Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2018 - 12:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z-NAND, western digital, supernova, ssd, Samsung, podcast, NVMe, K68, Intel, evga, earnings, corsair, amd, 760p
PC Perspective Podcast #485 - 02/01/18
Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including Intel and AMD Earnings, Samsung Z-NAND, GDDR6 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Program length: 1:23:43
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Picks of the Week:
1:11:15 Ryan: APC 1500VA UPS
1:15:45 Jeremy: I’m impressed with how much I am enjoying Subnautica
1:17:15 Josh: Reasonably price Threadripper cooling
1:18:15 Allyn: Cheap portable batteries from Amazon? (act fast)
Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2018 - 07:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, quarterly earnings, financial results
Western Digital has reported its quarterly earnings for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2018 (the quarter ending 12/29/2017). The San Jose-based storage company reported revenue of $5.3 billion and an operating income of $955 million. Under GAAP reporting, Wester Digital is reporting a net loss of $823 million (-$2.78/share) which includes $1.6 billion tax charge resulting from Western Digital repatriating foreign assets under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Under non-GAAP reporting, Western Digital had operating income of $1.4 billion and net income of $1.2 billion ($3.95/share). The company is reporting 9% revenue growth year over year and 2% growth versus last quarter. Operating income increased 72% versus the same quarter last year and 3% compared to the previous quarter (Q1 FY2018). Using non-GAAP numbers, Wester Digital saw operating income increase 47% and net income increase 78% year-over-year. Versus Q1 FY2018, operating income stayed the same (1.4 billion) and net income increased 9%.
Western Digital announced a 50-cent per share cash dividend on January 16th. Western Digital has a positive outlook for following quarters now that it has resolved negotiations with Toshiba to secure flash production and withdrawn its litigations. The company stated that it is on track to sample MAMR hard drives in the second half of this year and is ramping up production of 96-layer BICS 3D NAND X4 flash later this year. Western Digital's positive numbers are reportedly heavily influenced by its performance in the enterprise market with its large capacity hard drives and the continued growth of its flash product stacks.
- Western Digital MAMR Tech Pushes Future HDDs Beyond 40TB
- CES 2017: Western Digital Launches WD Black NVMe PCIe SSD
- Western Digital Launches 12TB Gold Hard Drive To Consumers
Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2018 - 12:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, My Cloud, security, D-Link, DNS-320L, NAS
A few years back the D-Link DNS-320L NAS device made headlines thanks to the discovery of a hardwired user and password present which allowed anyone access to your device. Western Digital seems to have completely ignored that previous furor as it turns out they reused that same firmware, without the update D-Link provided years back, on a number of My Cloud devices. As of now, if you are running any of the devices listed by The Register here with a firmware version below 4.x you are exposed. If you can't find newer firmware, which may well be the case, you can use D-Link's 2.30.174 firmware patch on your My Cloud; as always back up anything you don't want to lose before doing a firmware update.
"If you have a Western Digital My Cloud network attached storage device, it's time to learn how to update its OS because researcher James Bercegay has discovered a dozen models possess a hard-coded backdoor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD CES 2018 Announcement Roundup @ [H]ard|OCP
- CES 2018 : The Acer Nitro 5 2018 Gaming Laptop @ TechARP
- Intel's eighth-gen Core processors with Radeon RX Vega M graphics @ The Tech Report
- CES 2018 : New Acer Swift 7 + Spin 3 Laptops @ TechARP
- Security hole in AMD CPUs' hidden secure processor code revealed ahead of patches @ The Register
- Qualcomm joins Intel, Apple, Arm, AMD in confirming its CPUs suffer hack bugs, too @ The Register
- Microsoft Halts Bitcoin Transactions Because It's An 'Unstable Currency' @ Slashdot
- EUV Lithography Finally Ready for Chip Manufacturing @ IEEE Spectrum
- EWin Champion Series Ergonomic Computer Gaming Chair Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage | December 14, 2017 - 04:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, wd gold, hdd, 12TB
The 12TB WD Gold is not quite as impressive as Toshiba's 14TB drive but it should be more affordable for consumers with specific needs or for SMBs. Like the Toshiba drive it uses PMR as opposed to a shingled design, which again helps keep the drive's price under $600 and in the price range Ryan would like to see SSDs reach. The drive is rated at 2.5 million hours MTBF and as far as performance, Kitguru saw 245.58MB/s for writes and 237.01MB/s reads. This is not a drive for most, but for those with huge amounts of data who need to be able to move it frequently and at decent speeds, this review is worth looking at.
"Western Digital’s Gold range of hard drives have been designed to service nearline enterprise environments and as such they have a range of sensors and technologies onboard to help them maintain peak performance in such environments."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- HP SSD M700 @ Benchmark Reviews
- LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 @ Kitguru
- Synology DiskStation DS418play NAS @ Modders-Inc
- ASUSTOR AS6302T NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DS918+ 4-Bay NAS @ TechPowerUp
- SilverStone TS421S 4-Disk SATA/SAS Disk Enclosure @ Phoronix
- Thecus N4350 4-Bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Synology DiskStation DS418j @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2017 - 11:16 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, STO, Spin Torque Oscillator, SMR, PMR, Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, microwave, MAMR, HAMR, FMR
Today Western Digital made a rather significant announcement in the field of HDD technology. We’ve previously talked about upcoming ways to increase the density of HDD storage, with the seeming vaporware Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) forever looming on the horizon, just out of reach.
WD, like others, have been researching HAMR as a possible way of increasing platter densities moving forward. They were even showing off prototypes of the technology back in 2013, but a prototype is a far cry from a production ready, fully reliable product. Seagate had been making stronger promises of HAMR, but since we are already 5 years into their 10-year prediction of 60TB HAMR HDDs (followed by further delays), it's not looking like we will see a production ready HAMR HDD model any time soon.
Ok, so HAMR is not viable for now, but what can we do? Seems WD has figured it out, and it's a technology they have been kicking around their labs for nearly a decade. Above we see the PMR limit of ~1.1 Terabits/square inch. SMR pushes that figure to 1.4, but we are running up against the so-called 'writeability limit', which is the point at which the write head / magnetic field is too small to overcome the paramagnetic threshold of the smaller magnetic domains of higher density media. We are used to hearing that the only way to raise that limit was to heat the media with a laser while writing (HAMR), but there is a different / better way - Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, or MAMR for short.
Don't let the 'microwave' part of the term fool you - we are not microwaving the media with sufficient energy to actually heat it. Instead, we are doing something *way* cooler. The slide above shows how smaller grain size (higher density) requires a stronger write field to reach sufficient energy levels to reliably store a bit of data. Now check out the next slide:
This is a lot to grasp but allow me to paraphrase greatly. Imagine a magnet with a north and south pole. If you came along with a stronger magnet and attempted to reverse its polarity by directly opposing the currently stored state, it's generally difficult to do so. Current HDD tech relies on the field being strong enough to overcome the stored polarity, but MAMR employs a Spin Torque Oscillator, which operates at a high enough frequency (20-40 GHz) to match the ferromagnetic resonance of the media. This causes a precession of the stored field (like a gyroscope) and tilts it about its vertical axis. This resonance adds the extra energy (in addition to the write field) needed to flip the field to the desired direction. What's amazing about this whole process is that thanks to the resonance effects, the STO can increase the effectiveness of the write field 3-4x while only consuming ~1/100th of the power compared to that needed to generate the write field. This reduction in the damping constant of the media is what will enable smaller magnetic domains, therefore higher platter densities in future MAMR-equipped HDDs.
One of the best things about this new tech is that it is just a simple addition to all of other technologies already in place today. Western Digital was already making their drive heads with an advanced 'damascene' process, silently introduced about three years ago. To oversimplify the description, damascene is a process that enables greater physical precision in the shape of the head, which helps increase density. What makes this process a bigger deal now is that it more easily enables integration of the Spin Torque Oscillator into the head assembly. Aside from this head-level change and another pair of leads to provide a very small drive current (~1-2mA), every other aspect of the drive is identical to what we have today. When it comes to a relatively radical change to how the writing can be accomplished at these upcoming higher densities, doing so without needing to change any of the other fundamental technologies of the drive is a good thing. By no change, I really mean no change - MAMR can be employed on current helium-filled drives. Even SMR.
Western Digital also slipped in another announcement, which is the shift from the older style 'nested actuator' (introduced with 2TB HDDs back in 2009), to a newer 'micro-actuator'. The newer actuator moves the articulation point much closer to the head compared to the previous technology, enabling even finer head tracking, ultimately resulting in increased track pitch. WD currently sits somewhere around 400 tracks per inch (TPI), but they hope to reach 1 million (!) thanks to this new tracking combined with MAMR and improved media chemistry.
Now this doesn't mean we will see a sudden influx of 40TB HDDs hitting the market next week. WD still has to scale up production of STO-enabled heads, and even after that is complete, the media technology still needs to catch up to the maximum capabilities of what MAMR can achieve (creating smaller magnetic domains on the disk surface, etc). Still, it's nice to know that there is a far simpler way to flip those stored bits around without having to resort to HAMR, which seems to be perpetually years away from production. Speaking of which, I'll leave you with WD's reliability comparison between their own HAMR and MAMR technologies. Which would you choose?
Oh yeah, and about that supposed SSD vs. HDD cost/GB crossover point. It may not be as soon as we previously thought:
Full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | October 5, 2017 - 01:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, SMR, hgst, HelioSeal, big data, 14tb
Western Digital is raising the enterprise hard drive stakes once again with the announcement of a 14 TB 3.5” hard drive. The HGST branded Ultrastar Hs14 uses fourth generation HelioSeal and second generation host-managed SMR (shingled magnetic recording) to enable a 14 TB drive that is just as fast as its smaller capacity enterprise predecessors despite the impressive 1034 Gb/sq in areal density. Western Digital claims the new hard drive offers up 40% more capacity and twice the sequential write performance of its previous SMR drives.
The 3.5” SMR hard drive comes in SATA 6Gbps and SAS 12 Gbps flavors with both equipped with 512 MB cache, operating at 7200 RPM, and supporting maximum sustained transfer speeds of 233 MB/s. The enterprise drive is geared towards sequential writes and is intended to be the storage target for big data applications like Facebook, video streaming services, and research and financial workloads that generate absolutely massive amounts of raw data that needs to sit in archival storage but remain easily accessible (where tape is not as desirable). According to the data sheet (PDF), it is also aimed at bulk cloud storage and online backup as well as businesses storing compliance, audit, and regulatory records.
For those curious about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), Allyn shared some thoughts on the technology here.
Western Digital rates the drive at 550 TB/year and supports the Hs14 with a five year warranty. The drive is currently being sampled to a small number of OEMs with wider availability to follow.
Subject: Storage | September 18, 2017 - 09:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, wd gold, TLER, enterprise, datacenter
Western Digital has a new mechanical hard drive for your treasure trove of digital data. Utilizing fourth generation HelioSeal technology and eight PMR platters to fit 1.5TB of data per platter, the WD121KRYZ has a capacity of 12TB and features quite a few enterprise technologies to improve reliability and reduce data loss.
The WD Gold 12TB drive is an eight-platter 3.5" drive spinning at 7200RPM paired with 256 MB of cache and featuring a SATA III interface. The helium sealed hard drive uses a dual stage actuator head positioning system that can adjust the fly height of the read-write heads in real time. Enterprise focused features include RAFF to monitor and correct linear and rotational vibrations and TLER to protect the integrity of a RAID array. The vibration monitoring Is overkill for a desktop PC or even a NAS, but can be useful in a datacenter environment where hundreds of drives are packed together. The time limited error recovery technology ensures that bad sectors do not cause a RAID rebuild to fail (and Allyn has a more in-depth explanation here).
The WD Gold 12TB is built for continuous operation with an annual workload rate of 550TB running 24/7 with a 5-year warranty and 2.5 million hours MTBF. The maximum sustained transfer is 255 MB/s. The digital hoarder’s dream is available for $521.99 from Western Digital which works out to $0.0435 / GB. If you do not want to wait for a Red Pro 12TB variant (there does not appear to be one available and WD only recently launched 10TB models), the Gold series drive might be a good option with a better warranty and lower error rate.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 14, 2017 - 10:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, toshiba, nand, flash memory, bain capital
Toshiba remains in a financial crisis in the aftermath of massive losses in its Westinghouse US Nuclear power division and has been attempting to sell off its still very much profitable NAND flash manufacturing business to compensate and right the company to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Unfortunately for Toshiba it has now missed three target dates for selling off the business. Not for lack of suitors, but primarily because of legal issues resulting from anti-trust concerns as well as legal battles brought by Western Digital – who Toshiba is in a joint venture with for flash manufacturing in Japan – to attempt to prevent the sale.
Jumping to the present, Toshiba has decided to proceed with the negotiations with an investment group led by Bain Capital despite disappointment (and more legal objections) from Western Digital who tried to block similar negotiations back in June. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Toshiba had signed a “memorandum of understanding” and is engaging in private talks to negotiate the sale with an investment group led by Bain Capital and including SK Hynix (who is allegedly only providing financing at this point and not going after a stake in the business to try to avoid further delaying the sale from increased anti-trust red tape), Apple, Dell, Seagate, and two Japanese government controlled entities known as Innovation Network Corp and Development Bank of Japan (again, Bain Capital is offering them the chance to invest post any WD concessions and legal battles in the business to improve chances of the sale going through). As the preferred (by Toshiba) buyer, the Bain Capital-lead group deal is reportedly worth nearly 2.4 trillion Yen ($22 billion USD) including $1.8 billion earmarked for infrastructure. The company expects come to an agreement in late September and is hoping that it will be able to finalize the sale by March so that it can avoid reporting negative net worth and risking being de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and being cut off from a huge swath of public investors and capital.
Due to the negotiations being private, details are not readily available yet. It is not clear whether Toshiba will be able to pull it off or what the implications will be for the market if it does. (With Toshiba being the world’s second largest flash memory supplier, whoever ends up acquiring the company is going to have a lot of influence on the market and flash technology R&D.) It certainly seems Toshiba’s battle to right itself is going to continue into next year and Western Digital is not going to make it easy. The US-based WD stated:
“We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action. Our goal has been — and remains — to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders.”
A California court has reportedly ordered Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks’ notice of any deal with the consortium and its two previous arbitration requests through ICC are still pending resolution. Barrons reports that Toshiba may convince WDC to allow the sale if it gives its joint venture partner enough concessions such as an assured long term NAND supply contract and agreed participation in joint Fab projects that would protect SanDisk's contractual rights. Other interested parties for the sale include Foxconn and Western Digital itself. Perhaps SoftBank or the $100 Billion Vision Fund will come in and scoop it up as well.
[Opinions follow heh] I am interested to see how it all will eventually shake out. It remains less than ideal to see Toshiba must sell it off and have the market possibly lose a big flash memory player as the market share power gets more consolidated if it does get picked up by an existing memory manufacturer (see: hard drives, flash memory seems to be going through the same consolidation of companies from lots of little players into fewer bigger ones). I am not certain on the deal specifics as far as ownership and control of TMC and any cash only vs equity splits but with Japanese investors as part of all three bidding / competing consortiums it seems at least part of the business (if only money from it if not voting power) will remain rooted in Japan even if not under the Toshiba brand.
- Apple Is in Talks With Bain for Toshiba Chips Business (VIDEO) @ Bloomberg
- Toshiba to focus on chip talks with Bain, but doesn't rule out other suitors @ Reuters
- Toshiba Says It Favors Bain Group’s Bid for Microchip Business @ NYT
- Toshiba agrees sale with Bain Capital over protests @ ABC News
- Group Including Apple, Dell Moves to Buy Toshiba’s Chip Business @ WSJ (requires subscription)
- Toshiba Plans To Spin Off Storage Business, Sell 20% Of New Company @ PC Perspective
Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, tlc, slc, QLC, nand, mlc, flash, 96GB, 768Gb, 3d
A month ago, WD and Toshiba each put out releases related to their BiCS 3D Flash memory. WD announced 96 layers (BiCS4) as their next capacity node, while Toshiba announced them reliably storing four bits per cell (QLC).
WD recently did their own press release related to QLC, partially mirroring Toshiba's announcement, but this one had some additional details on capacity per die, as well as stating their associated technology name used for these shifts. TLC was referred to as "X3", and "X4" is the name for their QLC tech as applied to BiCS. The WD release stated that X4 tech, applied to BiCS3, yields 768Gbit (96GB) per die vs. 512Gbit (64GB) per die for X3 (TLC). Bear in mind that while the release (and the math) states this is a 50% increase, moving from TLC to QLC with the same number of cells does only yields a 33% increase, meaning X4 BiCS3 dies need to have additional cells (and footprint) to add that extra 17%.
The release ends by hinting at X4 being applied to BiCS4 in the future, which is definitely exciting. Merging the two recently announced technologies would yield a theoretical 96-layer BiCS4 die, using X4 QLC technology, yielding 1152 Gbit (144GB) per die. A 16 die stack of which would come to 2,304 GB (1.5x the previously stated 1.5TB figure). The 2304 figure might appear incorrect but consider that we are multiplying two 'odd' capacities together (768 Gbit (1.5x512Gbit for TLC) and 96 layers (1.5x64 for X3).
Press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | May 29, 2017 - 11:42 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Ultra, ssd, sandisk, nand, computex 2017, Blue, BiCS, 3d
Western Digital bought SanDisk nearly two years ago, but we had not really seen any products jointly launched under both brand labels. Until today:
The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD are both products containing identical internals. Specifically, these are the first client SSDs built with 64-layer 3D NAND technology. Some specs:
- Sequential read: 560 MB/s
- Sequential write: 530 MB/s
- Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Form factor: 2.5" (WD and Sandisk), M.2 (SATA) 2280 (WD only)
MSRP's start at $99.99 for the 250GB models of all flavors (2.5" / M.2 SATA), and all products will ship with a 3-year warranty.
It might seem odd that we see an identical product shipped under two different brands owned by the same company, but WD is likely leveraging the large OEM relationship held by SanDisk. I'm actually curious to see how this pans out long term because it is a bit confusing at present.