WD announces two lines of SSDs with 64-layer 3D NAND

In May, Toshiba made some headlines when it announced that its 64-layer BiCS flash memory was about to debut in consumer devices. As it turns out, Western Digital is the first to bring this 3D NAND to market, courtesy of a NAND supply agreement between Toshiba and Sandisk, which WD acquired in 2015. The new drives will retail under the company's WD Blue and Sandisk Ultra brands.

Western Digital will sell the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs in two form factors and four capacities. They'll be available as 2.5" drives or M.2 2280 sticks. As expected with the dense 64-layer flash, there will be models with ample capacities. The Blues start at 250 GB and go up to 2 TB, with 500 GB and 1 TB capacities along the way. Western Digital touts the efficiency of the new drives, claiming that they draw up to 25% less power than former generations of WD Blue SSDs. Owners of the WD Blue 3D drives will also get access to the company's cloning and dashboard software.

So how do the drives perform? By Western Digital's numbers, quite similarly to the company's last generation of WD Blue SSDs. They can reach 560 MB/s in sequential reads and 530 MB/s in sequential writes, a modest bump in performance over last year's versions.

The SanDisk Ultra 3D SSDs employ the same BiCS flash as the WD Blue 3D drives, but there are a few key differences between the product lines. These drives will be available in the same 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB capacities as the Blues above, but only in the 2.5" form factor. The Sandisk Ultra 3D drives employ a high-speed buffer to boost the drives' burst speeds. They offer 560 MB/s sequential reads and 530 MB/s sequential writes, just like the WD Blue 3D SSDs. The new Sandisk Ultras can hit 95K IOPS for random reads and 84K IOPS for random writes. Western Digital notes that the 250 GB models are just a bit slower than the larger-capacity models, posting 550 MB/s sequential reads and 525 MB/s sequential writes.

Western Digital plans to make all of these drives available for sale in the third quarter of 2017. They'll be backed by a three-year warranty. While the company hasn't released full pricing info, the 250 GB models (of both brands and form factors) will carry a suggested retail price of $100.

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