Western Digital intros SiliconEdge Blue SSD

Just shy of a year ago, Western Digital acquired solid-state drive maker SiliconSystems. The company’s SiliconDrive SSDs have been listed on WD’s web site ever since, but they’re really not Western Digital designs. Today, however, Western Digital is launching a solid-state drive of its very own: the SiliconEdge Blue.

Targeted at consumer desktops and notebooks, the SiliconEdge Blue uses a new third-party storage controller that apparently isn’t available in any other SSD currently on the market. Western Digital isn’t revealing who makes the controller, noting only that it’s been working closely with the manufacturer on firmware development. This controller isn’t necessarily exclusive to WD, but the company says its firmware tweaks won’t be shared, should other drive makers start using the same chip.

According to Western Digital, the SiliconEdge’s controller has a faster processor core than competing designs. The controller features a garbage collection routine and supports TRIM and Native Command Queuing, which is to be expected of a modern SSD. That’s about all WD is disclosing about the controller itself. WD has even had its name silk-screened onto the chip’s surface to prevent prying eyes from learning the chip’s true identity.

To the left of the controller in the picture is a 64MB DDR2 memory chip from ESMT that presumably serves as the drive’s cache—WD wasn’t willing to reveal cache sizes when we asked. Just below those two chips lies a collection of multi-level cell NAND flash memory chips from Samsung. Our 256GB drive has eight of these chips on each side of its circuit board.

While Western Digital is keeping some SiliconEdge details close to its chest, the drive’s spec sheet is a little more forthcoming. The Blue uses a 3Gbps Serial ATA interface and can purportedly sustain reads at 250MB/s and writes at 140MB/s. WD says the drive’s maximum write speed is 170MB/s, and that the drive can process 5,000 IOPS with random 4KB reads and writes.

We’re currently in the process of completely overhauling our storage test suite, so we haven’t had a chance to benchmark the SiliconEdge just yet. However, Western Digital claims the drive’s performance is competitive with current Intel SSDs, which is very good company to keep. WD is also adamant that it isn’t aiming to have the fastest SSD with the SiliconEdge Blue, suggesting that another SSD is destined to become a part of the company’s high-performance Black family.

Although the Blue may not be the quickest SSD on the block, Western Digital expects it to have broader compatibility than other solid-state drives. WD’s Functional Integrity Test lab has invested more than 130,000 hours in the SiliconEdge, and the drive has endured 40 firmware changes since testing began in October of last year. The test lab only just cleared the SiliconEdge for release, and drives are shipping already.

At least one major e-tailer is supposed to have SiliconEdge Blue SSDs available for sale today. The drives will be available in 64, 128, and 256GB capacities that carry suggested retail prices of $279, $529, and $999, respectively. For reference, Intel’s X25-M G2 160GB can be had for as little as $429. Like the X25-M, the SiliconEdge is covered by a three-year warranty.

We should have a full review of the SiliconEdge Blue and a collection of other new SSD models soon.  In the meantime, you can check out some high-res nudies of the Blue in the gallery below.

Comments closed
    • 5150
    • 10 years ago

    ARGH! Got my new Vertex LE in the mail today and damn work got in the way. Hopefully a good testing will take place tomorrow!

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 10 years ago

    This is disappointing, but I’m still glad they are in the game. It is a blue and not a black, so I’m really hoping the prices do come down significantly…

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    I want to see more affordable SSD’s under the 200$ price point from the big hard drive makers

      • albundy
      • 10 years ago

      i don’t. and i don’t expect them to have low priced ssd’s. i wanna see them die a painful and meaningless death like they did when they bought each other out. they had many opportunities to get ssd out first, but they didn’t. they were greedy bastards and held out as long as they could. they even got together and tried to lower warranties, but it backfired. now the cheapest of memory makers release ssd’s that will crush the hdd makers into financial oblivion. gotta have some form of entertainment, right?

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        I’d rather have more competitors rather than fewer, thanks.

    • gtoulouzas
    • 10 years ago

    The suggested retail price is simply insane. WD are out of their minds if they expect us to pay a premium over intel’s SSD drives, which have been in the market for so long (no, marketing speak about “improved compatibility” is not more convincing than an actual, existing customer base of hundreds of thousands of end users, which the intel drives can boast).

    What a disappointment from Western Digital. I expected traditional drive manufacturers to become trend setters in this new market and start an era of affordable SSDs. Instead, they seem to be content with being followers. 🙁

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    Is there a site that keeps track of all the tech stats and current prices for these drives? The landscape is crowded enough that this is neededg{<.<}g

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    You guys are funny. So every JMicron-based controller (this is a tweaked JMicron controller much like the Kingston SSDNow V+ SNVP325) from now until the end of time is bad and not worth consideration? For tech geeks that’s a pretty ignorant position. How many people are now using Intel CPU systems after the Pentium 4, or AMD systems after the Phenom I? 😉 Go read that AT review posted in #4, it performs just slightly worse than MLC Indilix controller drives.

    The only ‘fail’ here is the MSRP, street prices have to be a lot lower.

    • Vaughn
    • 10 years ago

    Very sad that they chose Jmicron controller I wouldn’t touch this drive still.
    And the price is nuts, hope to see something better from them in like 6 months!

      • stdRaichu
      • 10 years ago

      The Anand review shows that the JMicron controller isn’t awful – sure, it’s not up with Intel or Sandforce controllers but it more or less holds its own with the Indilinx which is still a good controller in its own right, and it’s a world apart from the infamous JM602 (which had a minuscule 64kB of cache IIRC).

      Whilst I’d still be wary of anything made by JMicron, dismissing them out of hand is a tad silly – especially if it’s really WD that’s overseeing the firmware.

      That said, the drive is too expensive based on the MSRP, at least for the enthusiast market. I can see it making inroads for OEM’s though, what with all the validation WD says they’ve done.

      • TravelMug
      • 10 years ago

      From the Anandtech article:

      ” Although Western Digital did tell me that the price was purely a suggestion and it expects significantly lower prices from etailers.”

      That would make sense. It’s still a question what that significantly lower price will be exactly.

        • NeelyCam
        • 10 years ago

        It would have to be quite a bit cheaper than Intel’s drives, to be competitive in the market.

        But if that’s the case, I’m all for it. Almost all (modern) SSDs are “fast enough” for most mid-range systems – the problem is the price. Get this down to $1/GB and it’s golden.

    • TravelMug
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t understand the positioning. Why would I buy 128GB@529 if I can have 160GB@429 ? Not that I’d personally pay that money for an SSD, the 40GB X25-V was enough for me to test if this new SSD awesomeness is what it’s made out to be. BTW – it is 🙂

      • tay
      • 10 years ago

      Fuck this. It has a JMicron controller to boot. FAIL!

        • sweatshopking
        • 10 years ago

        take it easy on the cussing my friend. this site does not approve of such behavior.

        • Palek
        • 10 years ago

        Sooo… We have three options:

        1. You know this because you have access to some fairly expensive machinery which allowed you to peek inside the package and find the IC vendor’s markings on the silicon?

        2. You work for a competing company as a marketroid or over-zealous engineer and thought it might be fun to spread some FUD about Western Digital.

        3. You could be a specimen of the very rare breed of company XYZ’s SSD fanboys.

        I’ll vote for 3.

        [EDIT] Never mind, I can see now that Anand did some digging. My apologies for the fanboy accusation.[/EDIT]

      • tay
      • 10 years ago

      JMicron FAIL! Price FAIL!

      • Sargent Duck
      • 10 years ago

      ‘eh, just ignore this.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    It’s going to be a while before I can afford an SSD at the capacity that I want. I’ve got to stay mechanical until I can get a ~120 GB drive for ~100 dollars.

    • astrotech66
    • 10 years ago

    Nice! I was wondering when Western Digital would have some new solid state drives out. I’ve used WD hard drives exclusively for awhile now, so I’m very interested in how their SSDs will stack up against the competition.

    Edit: Just noticed that Anand has a review of this drive up today.

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