Western Digital resurrecting the ‘Hybrid’ internal storage: 20TB OptiNAND is a platter-based Hard Drive with iNAND UFS SSD

Western Digital OptiNAND SSD HDD
An SSD within an HDD for best of both worlds scenario? Pic credit: William Hook/Flickr

Western Digital has announced OptiNAND, a “hybrid internal storage” hard drive with 20 Terra Bytes of storage space with a small UFS SSD on its mainboard. The company has released the first few batches of 20TB OptiNAND hard drive with a faster iNAND UFS EFD SSD for burst write sessions and platter-based storage for large volumes to select customers.

Solid State Drives are rapidly outselling traditional platter-based Hard Disk Drives (HDD). Although extremely fast in comparison, SSDs are way behind HDDs when it comes to large storage space.

Western Digital is revisiting an old technology. It has combined HDD with an SSD to offer the best of both worlds.

Western Digital introduces OptiNAND, a 20TB HDD with UFS SSD inside:

At the HDD Reimagine event today, Western Digital revealed OptiNAND. The company calls it a “novel architecture involving the integration of an embedded iNAND UFS Embedded Flash Drive (EFD) on the drive’s mainboard.”

The OptiNAND technology brings together Hard Disk Drives (HDD) with iNAND flash memory chips. Western Digital indicated the new internal storage drives will give enterprise customers and individual consumers the ability to store vast amounts of data.

The company also claimed the innovations would break the barriers of traditional storage. Western Digital expects modern-day users will create double the amount of data in the next five years.

The rate at which the enterprise and individuals will create the data will obviously be way faster than in earlier times. However, the momentum will not cease or slow down.

Traditionally hard drives were the backbone of every computer, be it laptop or desktop. However, Flash Drives are now increasingly a part of the average consumer. However, these drives severely lack the storage capacity that the platter-based HDDs offer.

Hence, many users compromise and purchase a small-sized SSD for booting the operating system. Meanwhile, they store the majority of the data on platter-based storage. Although this arrangement works, for now, users are quickly running out of space for their programs and data.

What is an OptiNAND-enabled memory?

The new OptiNAND-enabled memory uses the drive System On a Chip (SoC) to control communication with the iNAND EFD. In simple terms, the new HDDs will have a faster SSD that interfaces with the OS and the computer.

Meanwhile, OptiNAND will execute key drive housekeeping functions as it can take advantage of an increase in metadata capability. In other words, the platter-based storage will deal with the SSD component to accept and store data optimally.

The new OptiNAND HDDs can also reduce future DRAM needs, as well as enabling more sophisticated mechanisms to achieve greater capacities, increased performance, and enhanced reliability indicated Western Digital.

It appears Western Digital is committed to OptiNAND technology. The company indicated that moving forward, the new flash-enhanced drive architecture with OptiNAND technology will be available across the company’s portfolio of drives and storage platforms.

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