Western Digital re-enters the SSD market with Green and Blue drives

— 11:00 AM on October 11, 2016

Mammoth hard drive manufacturer Western Digital is once again selling solid-state disks under its own name. This news comes a scant five months after the company completed its acquisition of SanDisk, a name so universally associated with flash memory that some people think SD stands for SanDisk. WD's new SSDs are named the same way as its entry-level hard drives, with two lineups called simply Green and Blue.

In hard drives, the Green name is associated with value and baseline performance, and WD seems to be carrying those basic characteristics over to its Green SSDs. These SATA drives come in 2.5" and M.2 2280 form factors, and appear to be similar to (if not directly based on) the SanDisk SSD Plus line. According to Anandtech, these new drives use a low-end Silicon Motion controller and no DRAM cache. That means performance could be middling even in the best of cases. WD says the Green SSDs should be good for 540MB/s of sequential reads and 405 MB/s writes. The company also quotes performance figures of 37K IOPS on 4K random reads, which isn't all that inspiring.

Of course, harping on the performance of a low-end SSD is missing the point a bit. The Green drives are aimed at not only low price-per-gigabyte but also a low final price. As a result, the new drives only come in 120GB and 240GB capacities. The 80-TBW endurance rating on the 240GB drive is higher than some of its competitors in the bargain-basement SSD market, and WD covers the Green drives with a three-year warranty.

The new Blues are a little more exciting. These SATA drives also come in 2.5" or M.2 2280 forms, and use SanDisk 15-nm TLC flash along with the same Marvell controller that Crucial used in the MX300 SSD we reviewed. That means the Blue SSDs are very similar to the SanDisk X400. WD specs the larger Blue drives for 545 MB/s on sequential reads, 525 MB/s on sequential writes, and 100K IOPS on 4K random reads—all numbers that hew to the X400's.

Anandtech got its hands on a sample of the 1TB Blue drive and tested it pretty thoroughly. The impression seems to be that it trades some performance for power efficiency versus the X400. That's not a bad trade overall, considering that the X400 was a pretty solid performer to begin with. Like their cheaper cousins, the Blue drives also get a three-year warranty.

WD hasn't revealed pricing on the Green drives yet, and they won't be released until "later this quarter." Meanwhile, the Blue drives are already out and selling at retail. Newegg has the 1TB WD Blue SSD for $299 in 2.5" form, or $319 as an M.2 drive.

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