Western Digital hasn't bumped up the capacity of its high-end Black mechanical hard drive since the 2TB model debuted over three years ago. That older drive was eventually replaced by an upgraded variant with a 6Gbps SATA interface, but the total capacity remained unchanged. Today, there's a new addition with twice the storage: the Black 4TB.
Aside from doubling the capacity of its predecessor, the new Black has much in common with existing members of the family. The spindle speed is 7,200 RPM, the interface is 6Gbps SATA, and the DRAM cache is 64MB. The Black 4TB also features a dual-stage actuator whose design originated in the Black 2TB. This mechanism uses a second arm to move the drive head with additional precision, helping to keep the head on track with higher-density platters.
Although the spec sheet doesn't reveal how many platters the new Black uses to reach 4TB, I suspect the drive is a five-platter design like the Western Digital RE 4TB unveiled in September. The enterprise-oriented RE drives have long shared a common hardware foundation with the consumer-focused Blacks. It's also worth noting that the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 4TB is a five-platter design; Western Digital purchased Hitachi's storage division last year.
The Black 4TB should be available through "select distributors and resellers" soon. According to the press release, the suggested retail price is $340, or a little more than the going rate for the Deskstar 7K4000. That Hitachi drive gets only three years of warranty coverage, so we'd expect the Black to be priced at a premium. Neither Seagate nor Samsung offers a 4TB internal drive, although Seagate does have an external GoFlex product with that capacity. You have to crack open the case if you want to connect the underlying 3.5" drive via SATA, likely voiding the GoFlex's shorter two-year warranty.
We should have our hands on the Black 4TB shortly. Expect a full review just as soon as we can run the drive through our test suite. We may have to gather some other 4TB drives to keep it company.
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