Western Digital this week said that it would start volume shipments of its 20TB hard drives featuring OptiNAND technology next month. Western Digital's OptiNAND technology uses an iNAND UFS embedded flash drive (EFD) with an HDD to improve performance, reliability, and capacity. But the question is, will those 20TB drives be available to consumers?
"Next month, we will commence volume shipments of our 20TB CMR hard drives based on OptiNAND technology," said David Goeckler, chief executive of Western Digital, on a call with analysts and investors.
Western Digital's 20TB HDDs with OptiNAND rely on the company's familiar nine-platter 7200RPM helium-filled platform that uses energy-assisted perpendicular magnetic recording technology (ePMR).
OptiNAND adds several advantages to the platform as it stores various kinds of metadata data on the EFD instead of rotating media. The tech frees up onboard and makes metadata related to repeatable runout (RRO) and adjacent track interference (ATI) available to the controller faster, optimizing performance. The amount of metadata stored on modern HDDs is quite significant, so offloading it to NAND makes perfect sense both from a usable capacity and performance point of view. Furthermore, OptiNAND also boosts the reliability of HDDs.
Officially, Western Digital's OptiNAND-equipped HDDs are meant for cloud data centers and enterprises. However, OptiNAND is poised to solve performance and effective area density challenges of all hard drives, so nothing can stop a user from installing such a drive into a desktop or NAS and taking advantage of all the features that OptiNAND has to offer
At this point, we have no idea whether Western Digital plans to offer OptiNAND-equipped 20TB HDDs to the channel. However, unlike its SMR-based HDDs, these drives actually make a lot of sense for this market. Unless, of course, they are priced at levels not accessible to average enthusiasts.
In my limited experience, they worked well speeding up boot times, but the laptop drives weren't very reliable. It would occasionally flush out the cache entirely with large read/write operations (eg installing a new game) and the next bootup would take an eternity.
Then SSDs became way cheaper with similar amounts of storage, and that became the no-brainer way to go.