WD ships first 5mm hard drive and SSHD

WD announces the availability of the 500GB WD Blue hard drive and the WD Black solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD).

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
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WD's first SSHD, the 5mm WD Black.
WD's first SSHD, the 5mm WD Black. Dong Ngo/CNET

Western Digital announced on Tuesday the availability of its first solid-state hybrid drive, the WD Black SSHD.

SSHD is the new name for hybrid drives that combine both solid-state storage (used in solid-state drives) and regular platter-based storage (as found in regular hard drives) in a single standard box.

The WD Black is not the first SSHD on the market, but it's very different from the Laptop Thin SSHD that Seagate released just last month.

For one, the WD Black SSD is ultraslim, just 5mm thick (compared with 7mm for the Seagate drives), making it almost half the thickness and 36 percent lighter compared with a standard 9.5mm 2.5-in hard drive. Second, it comes with up to 24GB of NAND flash memory (compared with just 8GB in the Seagate drive). And finally, the new drive is the first that supports the new SFF-8784 edge card connector, the type of connector used in internal storage devices for smartphones and tablets.

In addition to the WD Black SSHD, WD also announced the availability of the WD Blue drive, which shares the same physical design as the SSHD but is just a standard hard drive with no flash memory.

Both drives support SATA 3 (6Gbps), retain the 2.5-inch dimension standard, and offer 500GB of storage space. Seagate says the two new drives are designed mostly for OEMs, especially those that make tablets and ultraportable devices, but can also be used with standard desktops and some laptops when coupled with its new data cable. This data cable draws juice from the host to power the drive, eliminating the need for a separate power connection like in existing standard drives.

The new 5mm WD Blue hard drive from WD.
The new 5mm WD Blue hard drive from WD. WD

Other than that, the two new drives also support WD's StableTrac and Dual Stage Actuator technologies. The former ensures that the motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations, and the latter means the drives come with two actuators to improve positional accuracy over the data track.

Both drives are now shipping to OEMs, with the WD Blue costing $89. The price of the WD Black SSHD is currently not available.

As WD showed off at CES 2013, the storage vendor has also been working on the 7mm versions of both the WD Blue hard drive and the WD Black SSHD, which are predicted to be released later this year.