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Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA III SSD Review

Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA III SSD Review
WD acquires SanDisk, revamps the X400, calls it Blue and offers it as their first true mainstream SSD.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: Dec 13, 2016 10:20 pm
TweakTown Rating: 88%Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction

 

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Seeing the handwriting flashing on the wall, Western Digital acquired SanDisk back in May of this year. As one of the world's largest mechanical HDD manufacturers, Western Digital has been a first-hand witness to the changing landscape of storage. It is becoming overwhelmingly obvious that the future has little room for mechanical storage media. If you are going to stay in the game, you had better get onboard the flash train. Not part way with SSHDs, but all the way or be left in the dustbin of history. To truly be a major player in the flash arena, you need fab-level access to NAND flash memory. More than anything else, this is the reason WD acquired SanDisk.

 

 

Western Digital's "Blue" SSD is effectively a SanDisk X400 with new firmware and some space on the drive's flash array dedicated to internal flash maintenance. This non-user addressable space dedicated for flash maintenance is known as overprovisioned space or "OP." Overprovisioning plays a key role in maintaining a high level of sustained performance as well as extending the overall endurance of a drive's flash array. The more OP, the better a drive will perform, and the longer it will last. SanDisk's X400 is already an excellent performer. In fact, it is one of our favorite planar TLC flash-based SSDs. Adding OP into the mix is only going to make an already fantastic product even better.

 

Western Digital is marketing their new "Blue" line of SSDs as an affordable HDD replacement that delivers superior performance, leading-edge reliability, and broad compatibility. These attributes are basically the same proposition that any modern SSD brings to the table, so other than Western Digital's worldwide recognized brand name, nothing special per se. Like the X400, the Blue is offered in both 2.5"x7mm cased and M.2 2280 form factors at all capacity points.

 

Because Western Digital's Blue series SSDs are based on SanDisk's X400 series, we already know that the WD Blue is going to deliver excellent performance. What we really want to know is how much better it will perform with new firmware and overprovisioning.

 

 

Specifications

 

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WD Blue 1TB SATA III SSD:

 

  • Sequential Read: up to 540 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 525 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 100,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 80,000 IOPS
  • Endurance: 400TBW
  • MTTF: 1.7 Million Hours
  • Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty
  • Avg. Active Power Consumption: 70mW
  • ECC: LDPC
  • SMART
  • TRIM
  • Garbage Collection
  • Software: WD SSD Dashboard

 

WD's Blue 1TB SATA III SSD is currently selling for $271 at Amazon and Newegg.

 

Powering the Blue is Marvell's 88SS1074 4-channel flash controller. We've seen this versatile controller at the heart of numerous recently-released SSDs. Marvel's 88SS1074 controller is essentially a blank slate. Marvell sells the controller and vendors provide their own custom firmware. Marvell's controller-only sales model means we don't see Marvell-controlled SSDs coming from small companies, but rather large companies that have in-house firmware engineering teams.

 

The Blue series pairs Marvell's 88SS1074 controller with SanDisk 15nm planar flash in BGA flash packages. BGA packaged flash is the good stuff; it is capable of higher bus speeds than TSOP packaged flash. Table caching is handled by Micron LPDDR3 DRAM cache packages with a capacity of 1MB to 1GB DRAM to NAND ratio.

 

WD backs the Blue with a three-year limited warranty. The limitation being TBW (Total Bytes Written). SanDisk's X400 carries a five-year limited warranty, but a lower TBW. We aren't sure of the reasoning behind the lower warranty period you get from the Blue, however, in our opinion, three years with an industry leading TBW is plenty good enough.

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