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Western Digital Announces First Black Series SSD

Western Digital announced the first Black Series SSD. The new high-performance product uses PCIe 3.0 x4 with the NVMe protocol to deliver flagship-level performance in a small package.

The new series will initially come to market in two capacity sizes: 256GB and 512GB. This marks Western Digital's first attempt to place an SSD with flagship Black branding, a designation reserved for the highest performing storage products dating back many years. The Black SSD series comes to market during a transition from legacy SATA with the AHCI protocol, to PCIe with NVMe, a new lightweight interface that increases the user experience by reducing protocol overhead latency.

“We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation interface change,” said Eyal Bek, senior director of client SSD, Devices Business Unit, Western Digital. “The WD Black PCIe SSD ramps up performance while delivering worry-free reliability for our customers worldwide. We believe that this will accelerate the transition that is already occurring from SATA to PCIe. Western Digital is uniquely positioned to offer customers a complete storage portfolio—HDD or SSD, and SATA or PCIe form factors for every segment of the market.”

Western Digital didn't release many details on the new Black series. The press release gives performance specifications in a Twitter-friendly format. The 512GB model will deliver up to 2050 MB/s sequential read and up to 800 MB/s sequential write performance.

The company is working with motherboard powerhouse, Asus, to fine tune the technology for gamers and enthusiasts. It will be interesting to see how the new NVMe SSD differs from other newly released products in this price category. We expect substantial growth in NVMe products for 2017.

“ASUS is dedicated to advancing technologies and leading innovation. WD and Asus worked closely together to ensure that the WD Black PCIe SSD delivers performance that our customers expect with hassle-free installation and use. With the latest Asus motherboards and WD Black PCIe SSDs, gamers can focus on winning rather than the distraction of waiting for games or levels to load,” said Joe Hsieh, corporate vice president and general manager, Motherboard Business Unit and New Product Planning Division, ASUS.

The Western Digital Black NVMe PCIe SSD will be available in the first half of 2017. The 512GB model will sell for $200 and the 256GB model for $109. Both come with a limited 5-year warranty.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.