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WD Black Dual Drive is world's first SSD+HDD

WD Black Dual Drive is world's first SSD+HDD

The WD Black Dual Drive

Western Digital has announced the world's first combined SSD and HDD, the WD Black Dual Drive.

While hard drives with flash storage have existed for a while, the Dual Drive does actually provide something a little different. Instead of using the flash portion of the drive as a high-speed cache, with the system only seeing one drive, the Dual Drive actually presents both its SSD and HDD as two separate drives.

The idea is that it provides the mass storage of an HDD and the speed of an SSD in one package that also gives the user control over how both are used. In other words, it's the perfect upgrade for a laptop or small form factor system that's limited to a single 2.5in drive.

“Our customers told us they like our Solid State Hybrid Drive technology, but our tech savvy users asked for more control of where they store their data,” said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president of WD’s Storage Technology business unit.

The Dual Drive incorporates a 120GB SSD (MLC, 20nm) and a 1TB hard drive (single platter, 5,400rpm) into a 9.5mm tall 2.5in package that uses a single SATA 6GB/s connector. It is currently only available in this configuration with no options regarding capacity or to have a 3.5in version. The drive is also only compatible with Windows at the moment.

Available immediately from several etailers, including direct from the WD Store, the drive has an MSRP of £249.99. This is undoubtedly quite expensive, with 1TB 2.5in HDD and 120GB SSDs typical costing just under £100 each, but £50 isn't too bad a premium for the convenience this solution will provide. Also final retail prices may well be lower than this.

20 Comments

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Hustler 25th November 2013, 14:36 Quote
I wonder how a PS4 would cope with this?

I know it says Windows only ATM, but there would be an obvious, very large console market for this.

It would be ideal to shift the game your currently playing on to the SSD whilst storing others on the mechanical drive.
it's never that simple though, is it...bound to be issues with 2 drives being visible to the PS4 OS.
Cei 25th November 2013, 15:12 Quote
Clever, and a good idea for small builds as you'd only need a single drive.

I doubt it works in consoles, the dual partition would confuse them.
dactone 25th November 2013, 15:21 Quote
Stupid idea. Why would you buy this and not a ssd for £70 and and a hdd for £60 ?
Gareth Halfacree 25th November 2013, 15:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dactone
Stupid idea. Why would you buy this and not a ssd for £70 and and a hdd for £60 ?
Because the overwhelming majority of laptops on the market have only a single drive bay?
phuzz 25th November 2013, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Because the overwhelming majority of laptops on the market have only a single drive bay?
They do, but it's pretty easy to convert the optical drive bay to housing another HDD. Of course, a lot of laptops don't have an optical drive any more, but surely the Bit-Tech approach is to mod it, rather than buying a product to do it all for you?
Gareth Halfacree 25th November 2013, 16:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
They do, but it's pretty easy to convert the optical drive bay to housing another HDD. Of course, a lot of laptops don't have an optical drive any more…
And that is your problem, right there. I'm typing this on a device with a single internal SATA port. My last laptop had two, but one held a custom optical drive that would have been a real pain to convert. Prior to that? One SATA port, no optical drive again.

Too many people see "not useful to me" as "not useful." In a world where sales of portables are spanking sales of hulkin' gert desktops, it's churlish in the extreme not to welcome a way to get the benefits of two drives without actually needing two drives.

If you're happy hot-gluing an SSD to the lid of your laptop and running a cable inside, more power to you; don't buy WD's new drive. For everyone else, it's nice to have the option n'est-ce pas?
Redbeaver 25th November 2013, 16:02 Quote
Oooooooooooh perfect for building a mini PC.

Pro: physical space.
Cons: dat price. and 5400 rpm.
Meanmotion 25th November 2013, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
. They do, but it's pretty easy to convert the optical drive bay to housing another HDD. Of course, a lot of laptops don't have an optical drive any more, but surely the Bit-Tech approach is to mod it, rather than buying a product to do it all for you?

Seriously?

1. What if you want the optical bay as well?
2. Have you seen the inside of your average laptop? They are not at all easy to modify.
3. In my eyes modding should serve a purpose, whether it be aesthetic, financial or performance. I fail to see how any of those criteria will be fulfilled in this instance given the time, money and effort involved.
azazel1024 25th November 2013, 16:56 Quote
If they made options of

1) 60GB SSD and 320GB HDD in a 7mm height package
2) 120GB SSD and 320GB HDD in a 7mm height package
3) 60GB SSD and 640GB HDD in a 7mm height
4) 120GB SSD and 640GB HDD in a 7mm height

Then the 9.5mm option they have and maybe a 240GB + 1TB option

I could see some interest there. Most ultra books though are 7mm height drive bays (if they have one). Heck, I'd love an "inexpensive" 60GB SSD and 320GB HDD in one for my ultrabook, but this drive won't fit and its a lot more capacity and expense than I need or would want.
Icy EyeG 25th November 2013, 20:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler

it's never that simple though, is it...bound to be issues with 2 drives being visible to the PS4 OS.

That's the problem: they'd have to update the firmware to deal with that somehow. So, it probably won't happen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article

The drive is also only compatible with Windows at the moment.

If you guys ever get one for review, please try it on Linux, just to see how the OS deals with the drive.
Pete J 25th November 2013, 20:20 Quote
I wonder: if you installed two of these, would you be able to link the SSDs in RAID 0? And the HDDs? Though as others have pointed out, if you have two slots available, you're better off picking up a separate HDD and SSD.
Meanmotion 25th November 2013, 20:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy EyeG
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler

it's never that simple though, is it...bound to be issues with 2 drives being visible to the PS4 OS.

That's the problem: they'd have to update the firmware to deal with that somehow. So, it probably won't happen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article

The drive is also only compatible with Windows at the moment.

If you guys ever get one for review, please try it on Linux, just to see how the OS deals with the drive.

Should be arriving tomorrow but Linux is unsupported. Appears as a single drive - the SSD - and requires a Windows only driver to have second drive show up.
AiA 25th November 2013, 22:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbeaver
Oooooooooooh perfect for building a mini PC.

Pro: physical space.
Cons: dat price. and 5400 rpm.

5400 rpm (but the other half's is a SSD :)
Gareth Halfacree 25th November 2013, 22:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meanmotion
Should be arriving tomorrow but Linux is unsupported. Appears as a single drive - the SSD - and requires a Windows only driver to have second drive show up.
This gives me a sad. Wonder if it's reverse-engineerable?
iwod 26th November 2013, 03:41 Quote
I see two problem.
1. Price, that is like 30 - 40% premium i am paying for. Which seriously i could do without.
2. Speed. SSD already saturate the SATA Bus. Until we get PCI-Express.... ( Which the current SSD still dont have a problem saturating it........ may be we need PCI-E 4.0 real soon ?)
Corky42 26th November 2013, 09:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iwod
I see two problem.
1. Price, that is like 30 - 40% premium i am paying for. Which seriously i could do without.
2. Speed. SSD already saturate the SATA Bus. Until we get PCI-Express.... ( Which the current SSD still dont have a problem saturating it........ may be we need PCI-E 4.0 real soon ?)

I didn't think SSD's were at those kinda speed yet, are we talking saturating SATA I,II, or III ?
Atomic 26th November 2013, 12:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meanmotion
requires a Windows only driver to have second drive show up.
That's such a shame, one of these would have been perfect in my MacBook.
GuilleAcoustic 26th November 2013, 12:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
This gives me a sad. Wonder if it's reverse-engineerable?

I second you on that point. Just saw the retail price on my fav French store ... 299€ :(. It's twice the price of a 1TB / 5400 rpm + 120GB SSD :'(.
azazel1024 26th November 2013, 16:33 Quote
Hmmm, looking at some prelim reviews, it looks like the driver/firmware is a little bugged. Concurrent hits to the HDD and SSD apparently caused at least one hardlock that required a reboot and I think deleting and restoring the partitions. It only happened once...but that is one hell of a problem to have.

Also the SSD speeds are slow. Only ~350ish MB/sec reads and 140ish MB/sec writes. Its apparently just 2 NAND dies on the package (maybe stacked?). So it is actually narrower than most mSATA drives (which are often 4 NAND dies). Seems like WD would have been much better off going for a lower HDD capacity and using the thinner profile to put a full SSD in there, or at least a bigger board with a couple more NAND packages.

So basically it is a slow SSD with a slow HDD at a big mark-up.

I get the space saving, but most laptops with only one drive bay and no mSATA slot made in the last 2-3 years seem to have 7mm drive bays. You can always use a spacer to fit the drive in a laptop with a 9.5mm drive bay, so I don't see a good reason they should have limited themselves on this one.

For the price though, I'd think most users would be better off just getting a 240GB SSD, or even a 480GB SSD as its almost the same price. US MSRP is $299. Checking Newegg there are a few SSDs in the 480/512GB capacity range that are $300-330 right now.

So I guess I am not seeing the alure anymore at the price WD is trying to sell it at. At $200, sure. Or at much better performance and the price they are asking, sure. I really still think they'd be better of selling a 7mm height 60/120GB SSD and 320GB HDD package at $130 for the 60/320 option or $180 for the 120/320 option. I'd bet WD could still make a good profit off that and I'd bet that would be a very attractive setup for a lot of ultrabook users on a budget (and laptop users).
bawjaws 26th November 2013, 17:43 Quote
I'd imagine that if these take off, the price will come down to the point where they are a viable alternative to individual SSDs and HDDs. Until then, however, it's a pretty expensive niche product.
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