Storage Visions kicked off today and on the show floor Western Digital was showcasing a prototype of its new 3.5" dual-drive. The drive consists of a 128GB SSD along with a 4TB hard drive and utilizes PCIe 2.0 x2 interface through the SATA Express connector. Similar to the Black2 we reviewed last year, the prototype shows off as two separate volumes, although Western Digital is also working on a caching software to make the solution more user friendly. 2.5" version is also in the plans, although at first Western Digital is focusing on the 3.5" form factor.

Since the drive is in prototype stage, there are no specs available but since the drive is based on a JMicron SATA 6Gbps controller, the performance maxes out at ~550MB/s. At the booth, Western Digital was showing off two prototypes in software RAID 0 reaching 1GB/s, which is what you would expect from any two SATA 6Gbps SSDs in RAID 0.

Currently the product is more of a concept and there is no set release schedule, but the drive will likely appear on the market later this year. To be completely honest, the product as it stands today doesn't make much sense because it's internally SATA 6Gbps, but uses for PCIe for host connectivity. From a performance perspective the only advantage of PCIe is that the SSD and HDD can be accessed at the same time at full speed, but ultimately I think Western Digital has to go with a native PCIe SSD controller to be competitive. Western Digital told me that they are looking into PCIe controllers but since there aren't any available at this point, the prototype is stuck with SATA 6Gbps controllers.

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  • Guspaz - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    What exactly is the advantage of this? Sticking an HDD and an SSD in the same chassis makes a certain amount of sense for a 2.5" laptop drive, because in a lot of devices you only have room for a single 2.5" drive. But in a desktop drive? Desktops rarely only have one 3.5" HDD slot. Even my Shuttle XPC has two 3.5" slots, three if you put one in the optical bay... and like many SFF machines, it has an mSATA port on top of that.

    Hybrid drives make sense. But this isn't a hybrid drive, it's just two drives in one.
  • Scott_T - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    we can only hope they're planning on packaging it with some caching software at least??
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Unless you have a laptop with only one drive bay (Plenty have two!) then I would be more inclined jumping towards Sandisks Readcache SSD's.
    They're cheap and work well, I have them in my grand parents machines.
  • vnangia - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    The iMac? :)
  • nathanddrews - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    Yeah, why not make a hybrid with 128GB? It seems that the largest failing of hybrids is the small SSD cache. You're already paying for the hardware, so why not make it great?
  • StormyParis - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    My server is full, and currently runnign off an SSD I scotch-taped to the side of the chassis.
  • DanNeely - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    If they get the hybrid software ready by launch time I could see some value to it. Joe User doesn't want to have to worry about saving some files on his fast disk drive, and others on his slow one; but 2 separate drives is kinda pointless.

    Assuming they get hybridization working though; I think 3.5" makes more sense than 2.5 though. 2.5" bays have largely vanished from mid-range laptops. At the bottom of the market, the extra $50-75 for an SSD and an HDD is prohibitively expensive. At the top, the OEMs selling big gaming laptops wouldn't be interested; because they've gone full retard and wouldn't be interested in any flash that can't be combined into a 4-way raid-0 for maximum bogo-benchmark scores and warranty claims when the raid barfs.
  • Samus - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    This is just as dumb as the Black2. I'm a huge WD fan but the Seagate SSHD's are a significantly better implementation than this dual-drive crap. What kind of "gamer" is going to be able to utilize a 120GB SSD. That's like 2 modern games. BF4 and COD-AW are both 50GB and for AW that doesn't even account for the future expansions.
  • jb510 - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    The spec card in the photo clear says:
    "World's Fastest 4TB Hybrid Drive"
    "Engineering sample SATAe Hybrid Drive"

    The article states: "the prototype shows off as two separate volumes, although Western Digital is also working on a caching software to make the solution more user friendly"

    What gave you the idea they'd release this as two drives?
  • close - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Since they're calling it a hybrid drive I would expect to see ONE drive in the device manager. If it's seen as two drives then they should at least suggest in the naming scheme for the prototype that the "hybrid" part is still only on paper. It could be a bit misleading to name a prototype a certain way but not clearly state that the main feature mentioned is missing.

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