by Adam Armstrong

Western Digital Launches Zoned Storage Initiative

Today Western Digital announced the launch of Zoned Storage. Zoned Storage is an initiative that leverages new technology to create more efficient Zettabyte-scale architectures for data centers while helping to maintain more competitive TCO. The company also launched a developer site they will be hosting that includes open-source, standards-based tools and resources. 

According to IDC, data will begin being generated at a rate of 103 zettabytes a year by 2023. Those numbers may go up before then. Data centers today leverage general-purpose architectures that are not up to the task of the coming data tsunami. Much of the data being generated or about to be is from video, IoT, Edge, and surveillance, all of which is sequential in nature and can be zoned into large chunks for better organizing and analyzing. This zoning of data can lead to better performance as well as lower TCO. 

In order to make things more efficient, Zoned Storage architecture will leverage two technologies that offer the highest capacities, these include: shingled magnetic recording (SMR) HDDs and the emerging zoned namespaces (ZNS) standard for NVMe SSDs to deliver better endurance and predictable, low-latency QoS performance. The two technologies are complimentary to each other and can be used under a single storage stack, regardless of media type. Though SMR seems like a fairly new technology, Western Digital states that by 2023, half of all its HDD shipments are expected to be SMR. This massive uptick in shipments will allow adoption to roll out much more efficiently. Western Digital is already shipping its 15TB Ultrastar DC HC620 SMR HDDs in volume with a technology demonstration of its 20TB SMR HDD at a press event and private customer gathering being held in Beijing this week.  

On the ZNS side of things, Western Digital announced that it is currently developing the technology for its SSDs. The company claims several benefits over traditional NVMe SSDs such as lower write amplification, increase capacity, and provide improved throughput and latency. 

As stated, the company launched the site. The Site works with the open-source community, customers and industry players to help accelerate application development initiatives within the developer community. Of course, the site centers around helping infrastructure engineers take advantage of Zoned Storage technologies. According to WD, the site hosts information about software development libraries, tools, ZNS information, SMR resources and reference architectures that provide a unified framework to manage purpose-built ZNS SSDs and capacity-optimized SMR HDDs.


The Western Digital 15TB Ultrastar DC HC620 is currently available and shipping in volume to qualified customers while the Ultrastar ZNS NVMe development SSD is available to select customers. site

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