WD_BLACK continues to stretch flash storage to its limits, pushing new boundaries for gaming. With the introduction of the WD_BLACK SN850X, set to release in the summer, the brand demonstrates not only that it can iterate on excellence, but it leads the storage industry forward by creating what’s next.
Iterating on excellence
It wasn’t long ago that WD_BLACK was recognized as a top 10 innovative company in the gaming industry for its WD_BLACK SN850 and D30 drives. These products set new standards across the board, but that didn’t stop the brand from aiming high once again.
“Enough is never enough,” said Luis Tenorio, product marketing manager for WD_BLACK. “We made a great product in the SN850, but why can’t we make something better?”
This ethos of pushing limits is core to WD_BLACK’s work and its products. While the SN850’s performance is prolific, the engineering team doubled down for the successor.
“The first thing we did for the 850X is we squeezed a little bit more performance out of the drive,” Tenorio said. “This is a PCIe Gen 4 dive, so we can theoretically get to an 8000 MB/s read speed.” These gains are hard-earned, as the 850X is at the very limit of what’s possible within the current architecture.
“We are so close we are to the limits of PCIe Gen 4, and we can’t really push [the drive] much farther than we have with the 850X, so we’re looking to add features,” he said.
These new features are how this drive earns its ‘X.’ Headlined by improvements for the Western Digital Dashboard, a software designed to monitor and optimize storage performance, WD_BLACK engineers worked hard to offer gamers precise control of their machines with Game Mode 2.0. Game Mode 2.0 optimizes WD_BLACK drives with new techniques, such as predictive loading and adaptive thermal management, to ensure that gamers get the most out of their components. While the difference is in the slightest of margins, these small advantages can have a massive impact on gameplay.
“Having better storage can give you a competitive advantage,” Tenorio said, “if you can respawn faster than the enemy, that’s enough to tip the scales.”
Brian Pridgeon, global marketing director for WD_BLACK, echoed that point in an interview.
“These new features do make a difference, even though they’re small,” he said. “And it’s all on top of the reliability and performance gamers have come to trust.” Trust is the foundation of WD_BLACK’s hard-earned reputation in the industry, helping the brand stay in tune with gamers and industry players alike.
Authentically for gamers
The gaming community is a notoriously savvy one and making products that not only meet but surpass expectations requires authenticity and authority in the market.
“Gamers are savvy, and we want to honor that. That’s why our products are authentically engineered for gaming,” said Pridgeon. “We understand that folks aren’t just looking for speed or performance, but for the product to elevate their whole experience.”
Jared Peck, director of product management for flash business at Western Digital, sees it similarly.
“Purpose-built for gaming means that, from the beginning, we are thinking about video games,” Peck said. “Performance, hardware components, yes, but things like RGB control, too. People take pride in their systems, and we want to empower them.”
Integral to this philosophy of “purpose-built for gaming” is a love for gaming. Engineers and marketers alike at WD_BLACK nourish a passion for the hobby, many of them equipping their own computers with the products they champion at the office. For many, this is personal work.
WD_BLACK’s authenticity isn’t just about the team’s love for gaming though. Equally important are the relationships with industry partners.
“To partners we’re saying, ‘Here’s where we think storage is going. How can we align with your technology to keep pushing gaming forward?’,” said Peck. “We’re trying to figure out what the future should be, and then build it. Everything we make is geared towards pushing games forward.”
“If game developers can rely on the fact that players have SSDs, a WD_BLACK drive, it changes what you can make, what you can imagine,” he said. A high-performing drive unlocks new gameplay experiences, like the portal-hopping antics of Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. That game wouldn’t have been possible in previous generations of hardware.
Top of the leaderboards
More than ever, PC gaming is pushing the limits of computing, and WD_BLACK is pushing the limits of what’s possible for storage.
“I think the advancement of all storage is pushing us into a new era of game development, and WD_BLACK is at the forefront of that,” said Tenorio. “Before storage was seen as a limiter, but with WD_BLACK we’re trying to make SSDs standard and we’re hoping to open up possibilities in gaming.”
Gaming, in many ways, is built on possibility. The possibility to be stronger or faster, the possibility of living in faraway lands with delightful characters. Getting lost in the experience is at the heart of the WD_BLACK SN 850X and all its products.