Western Digital Launches 3.5" SAS WD XE Drive

Today, Western Digital [NASDAQ:WDC] announced their newest offering for the enterprise market. This is the SAS WD XE drive and it is a 3.5" solution which incorporates a 2.5" 10,000 RPM SAS drive. This drive is very similar to the Velociraptor that we see in workstation implementations, which we reviewed, but it comes in lower capacities with SAS connectivity and more enterprise server-like features.

The purpose of this drive is to really help certain older data centers to upgrade their speeds and capacities while reducing power consumption and noise. Western Digital appears to be focusing on customers that have 15K RPM drives (obviously Seagate Cheetah) and compare their drive stating that it consumes 67% lower power consumption. Furthermore, these drives claim a MTBF of 2 million hours, which definitely classifies them for enterprise application.

As expected, the drive delivers high performance over the 6 Gb/s SAS connector with a stated sequential data rate of 204 MB/s. This is complemented by the dual port, full duplex connectivity and Western Digital’s own NoTouch ramp load technology which enables for the drive head to never actually touch the disk, reducing wear on the drives over time. Western Digital states that these drives are already available for sale via the expected retailers and distributors. The drives will be offered in three capacities ranging from 300GB to 900GB, meaning that there will also be a 600GB variant.

Based on the current market situation, Western Digital is pricing these drives at $229 to $599 for the 300GB and 900GB models. While we still aren’t sure on the 600GB pricing, we have a feeling that most customers will want to go for the 900GB model since it really isn’t that expensive and you actually save money by going with the bigger drive.
It appears as though the hard drive shortage caused by the Thai Floods has completely subsided and that the prices have come back down to levels we have come to expect.

While we aren’t sure how this will affect Western Digital’s and Seagate’s bottom line just yet, the more worrying trend for these companies is the slowing of the traditional PC sector. As such, expect them to move their consumer brands into thinner and lighter form factors (like Western Digital is already doing) and to expand their enterprise lineups to feed the demand in the data centers to feed all of those mobile devices.Western Digital seems properly poised to move forward with their new product lines and continue to live in this brave new world of mobile.