WD Announces Fast NVMe Storage For IoT Devices, Maybe An In-House Controller

At Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Western Digital announced two new client SSDs designed to "enable the capture and transformation of the massive quantities of data in real-time at the edge of a smart city, smart home and personal data environment."

Essentially, the new PC SN720 and SN520 are high-speed storage devices for glorified smart lamp posts and other Internet of Things (IoT) systems covered in sensors that record your conversations, watch traffic patterns, and process data locally rather than offload it to a central server. Intel presented information on one such system from Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) at last year's Computex, but there are many other companies involved in the IoT market.

1984-fear-inducing monitoring devices aside, the two new SSD models from Western Digital use language we haven't seen from the company before. WD said in a press release:

The groundbreaking new NVMe SSD firmware and controller architecture is purpose-built to maximize the performance and scalability benefits of Western Digital 3D NAND, and is in lock-step with the company’s NAND evolution. “With this new vertically integrated SSD platform, we are able to optimize the architecture to our NAND for low latency and power efficiency, and most important, for the growing range of applications benefiting from NVMe,” said Eyal Bek, Senior Director of Client SSD, Devices Business Unit, Western Digital. “The scalable architecture supports a range of capacity and performance points, while streamlining system qualification to improve time-to-market for our customers.” 

That sounds a lot like WD just said it has a new in-house NVMe SSD controller. Did you miss it?

"...controller architecture is purpose-built to maximize the performance and scalability benefits of Western Digital 3D NAND" [...] “With this new vertically integrated SSD platform..."

To our knowledge there is not a third party building a specific controller exclusively for WD's BiCS FLASH memory. The closest we've seen so far is the Phison E12, but that also supports Toshiba's BiCS FLASH. The second section we highlighted tells us more. "Vertically Integrated" is code for "we make the components." Samsung uses the phrase all the time because it designs and manufactures the SSD controller, DRAM, and NAND flash.

WD says the PC SN720 is capable of up to 3,400 MB/s sequential read and 2,800 MB/s sequential write speeds, which means this model is a very fast SSD capable of competing with the best Samsung has to offer today. The series will ship in sizes from 256GB to 2TB.

WD didn't disclose performance information for the PC SN520, but did say it will ship in several form factors from M.2 2280 to M.2 2230 in capacities of 128GB to 512GB. The release went on to say this model has one of the lowest power draws in the industry.

The release didn't mention pricing or time frame for availability, but we're more interested in seeing this cross over to the consumer upgrade market, possibly in the reshaping of the Black PCIe series.

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