HDD ReImagined: OptiNAND™ Insights from Western Digital Leaders

HDD ReImagined: OptiNAND™ Insights from Western Digital Leaders

Innovation is what drives a business, Western Digital CEO David Goeckeler often says.

Western Digital has long led the HDD market with innovations such as EAMR (energy-assisted magnetic recording), HelioSeal®, and the triple-stage actuator (TSA), to name a few. Since acquiring SanDisk in 2016, it is the only company to possess both in-house expertise and the ability to vertically integrate innovations across HDD and flash.

Western Digital leaders hosted a virtual event introducing the company’s new breakthrough OptiNAND™ technology platform, bringing to life its unique advantage in drive development. 

Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, executive vice president and general manager of the HDD business, kicked it off with a glimpse into the state of the data market. “Industry sources say we will create two times more data in the next five years than has been created since the advent of digital storage,” said Gorakhpurwalla. “As this data growth continues, customers need to store vastly more information, whether from traditional or new data sources.”

That’s what led Western Digital to help close this gap for customers, with its unique blend of world-class technology and storage leadership in both HDDs and embedded flash drives.

Siva Sivaram, president of global technology and strategy, explained how synergies between HDD and flash development create a unique force multiplier that increases the capacity, performance, and reliability of HDDs. Sharing intellectual property and development teams enables the company to store more on a drive both today and into the future.

“We’re in the business of scaling,” said Sivaram. “OptiNAND is an enabler.”

In a Q&A session, Sivaram is quick to explain what this is not. OptiNAND is not a hybrid drive, but a technology that enhances HDDs with integrations and enhancements delivered by flash embedded in the drive. It’s not user or host data, but metadata that can now be stored in non-volatile flash instead of on the rotating media. As a result, the drive performance, reliability, and capacity are all improved.

Gorakhpurwalla says that the company is confident it will deliver a 50TB drive with OptiNAND before the end of this decade, adding to the more than 100 exabytes of ePMR that Western Digital has shipped to date. Today, samples of 20TB (2.2TB per platter) OptiNAND drives have been shipped to early customers, surpassing the density of any other drive in the industry.

“The beauty and elegance of OptiNAND is that we’ll be able to deploy it across our entire portfolio,” said Gorakhpurwalla. “This unique aspect is that of our HDD and flash engineers can sit side-by-side in the lab. With this kind of vertical integration, they’re able to develop a NAND cell and incorporate it into a drive. That’s the essence of what Western Digital brings to customers.”

To find out more about OptiNAND, see the press release here, the technology brief here, and an in-depth blog on how Western Digital created OptiNAND here.