January 19th, 2011 by Brian Beeler
Western Digital Hybrid Hard Drive in the Works
It's of little surprise to say that Western Digital is considering a hybrid hard drive. Seagate currently owns the market with their Momentus XT and Toshiba told us at CES they're working up a hybrid right now. What's interesting about WD though is they typically don't announce product until it's ready to ship and while this isn't a formal product announcement, it's the first time they've publicly talked about releasing a product in the hybrid hard drive market.
John Coyne, CEO of Western Digital (NYSE:WDC), casually mentioned the hybrid drive during the company's Q2 2011 earnings call last night. "Third, we are focused on growing our storage presence beyond rotating magnetic media through our leadership in the embedded SSD space and our planned entry into the Tier 0 Enterprise segment for SSD when that market evolves into a significant and profitable market opportunity. In the context of solid state technology, we also continue to evaluate the opportunity to combine rotating magnetic storage with flash into hybrid solutions."
That's all the was said until an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc. brought the topic up again in the Q&A session. Coyne responded, "...and as we look at that client environment and look at what might be an attractive offering that combine the best of both worlds in terms of the performance of solid state with the capacity of rotating media, at a balance of the two, which provided an accessible price point, as we look out into the future where such a device would be supported by operating system capability, which it is not really supported well today, as we look at that over the next couple of years, we see an emerging opportunity for such a device family to offer performance capacity and value."
Based on the quote above, it sounds like WD is waiting for the operating systems to better take advantage of the on-board NAND available in the hybrid hard drive environment. Even though he also mentioned pricing being a hurdle, we don't hear much complaint about the Momentus XT's $120 price tag in 500GB capacity.
While it doesn't appear that Western Digital will be debuting a hybrid drive this year, it is clear they're investing resources toward that end and will offer a hybrid product perhaps as early as 2012.