April 23rd, 2013 by Josh Shaman
WD Announces 5mm WD Blue HDDs and WD Black SSHDs
WD is announcing the shipment of the very first 2.5" hard drives and solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs) in an ultra-slim 5mm form factor that are being offered in a 500GB capacity. The WD Blue comes in an HDD version while the WD Black is the hybrid model. WD has produced both of these new drives to fit the strictest minimal-space applications. They are targeted at use cases that are constrained by the physical room that the drive can use as well as their requirement to have solid performance in the case of the Black SSHD.
In designing the new WD Blue HDDs and WD Black SSHDs, WD used precaution to create secure drives understanding that the smaller the drive, the more likely it is to encounter stress created by users. The ultra-slim 5mm form factor drives not only weigh up to 36% less and use WD acoustics technologies to reduce drive noise, they also provide operation and non-operation shock specs at a tough 400G and 1000G for Blue and Black respectively. One of the methods WD used to achieve these numbers was using cell phone miniaturization technology to increase sway space to aid in protecting the drives from shocks.
Other physical characteristics of the WD Blue HDDs and Black SSHDs ensure their safe and efficient operation. The new SFF-8784 edge connector has a small form factor and does the job of two connectors by both receiving power and SATA interfacing. Another safeguard is that the motor shaft is secured at both ends to lessen system-created vibrations from effecting the drives and also to keep platters stable. Rounding out the features, for greater accuracy the drives also offer two actuators; the primary actuator provides coarse displacement, while the secondary actuator uses piezoelectric motion.
The WD Black SSHD marks WD's first effort in the hybrid space. Initially the drives will only be available to OEMs and not available in retail. OEMs can order the Black hybrid in a variety of cache configurations including 8MB, 16MB and 24MB capacities. WD has opted for lower cost MLC NAND for their cache, which is the trend with hybrid hard drives. Both the new 5mm Blue and 5mm Black use the same mechanical platform. WD has specified the 5mm Blue as a 5400 RPM spindle speed, but has not disclosed the 5mm Black. If pressed for a guess, we'd assume it's also 5400 RPM for consistency of build. Compared to the Seagate Thin, the company's third generation hybrid, WD's offering comes in with the same capacity, but up to 3 times more NAND and a case that's 2mm thinner. Due to the specialized edge connector though, mass adoption from the DIY upgrade set is unlikely; WD is trageting the OEM market almost exclusively at launch.
Pricing and Availability
WD Blue HDDs are shipping now to distributors and OEM's with an MSRP of $89 and come with a 2 year warranty. WD Black SSHDs are shipping to OEM's and system integrators and will not immediately be available at retail.