Western Digital's 'What's Next' event back in May 2022 had seen the announcement of its 22TB platform based on ePMR and OptiNAND (with ArmorCache). At the event, WD indicated that the 22TB 10-platter drives would make its market appearance under different product categories - Ultrastar DC HC570 for data centers and enterprises, WD Gold for enterprises, SMEs, and SMBs, WD Red Pro for SMB and SME NAS systems, and WD Purple Pro for surveillance network video recorders.

Today, WD is announcing retail availability of these models along with technical details. All drives have a 3.5" form-factor and sport a SATA 6 Gbps interface. The drives are equipped with a 512MB cache and have a 7200 rpm spindle speed. The acoustics rating for all of them are the same too - 20 dBA at idle and 32 dBA for the average seek.

Western Digital 2022 22TB Hard Drives - Metrics of Interest
  WD Gold WD Red Pro WD Purple Pro
Rated Workload (TB/yr) 550 300 550
Max. Sustained Transfer Rate (MBps) 291 265 265
Rated Load / Unload Cycles 600K 600K 600K
Unrecoverable Read Errors 1 in 10E15 1 in 10E13 1 in 10E15
MTBF (Hours) 2.5M 1M 2.5M
Power (Idle / Active) (W) 5.7 / 9.3 3.4 / 6.8 5.6 / 6.9
Warranty (Years) 5 5 5
Pricing $600 $600 $600

Based on the above specifications, it is clear that Western Digital has taken the ePMR / OptiNAND / triple-stage actuator platform and tweaked the firmware suitably to cater to different market segments. The Red Pro CMR drive comes with NASware 3.0 firmware that includes features such as adjusting parameters based on the integrated multi-axis shock sensor, maintaining balance using the dual-plane balance control technology, and TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) configuration for compatibility with various NAS systems. As is customary for the Red Pro family, the new 22TB drives are recommended for usage in systems with up to 24 bays.

The WD Purple Pro drives meant for network video recordings has firmware tweaked for continuous sequential writes to multiple drive regions simultaneously. WD indicates the capability of the drive to handle up to 64 concurrent HD stream recordings at 3.25 Mbps, and up to 32 streams for machine learning / object detection tasks. Similar to NASware 3.0 in the Red Pro, the custom firmware has a specific moniker - AllFrame AI.

The WD Gold is the flagship in today's retail launch announcement. It's firmware is tweaked for the highest possible performance, without focusing on the active and idle power numbers. The ArmorCache feature is specifically turned on in the WD Gold 22TB model only (July 27, 2022 Update: WD reached out to inform us that the ArmorCache feature is turned on in all the three models covered here, as well as the Ultrastar DC 22TB and 26TB models, and that the oversight in their product briefs would be fixed soon)..

Interestingly, all the three drives have been launched with the same MSRP of $600. Even though the WD Red Pro has a much lower workload rating, peak performance number, and reliability metric (MTBF), it appears that WD believes the market will be willing to pay a premium for the lower power consumption numbers.

The overall push with these high-capacity hard drives is one of TCO. The ability to reduce physical footprint of storage servers for the same capacity can result in significant savings in allied IT costs related to power, cooling, and rack space. Moving forward, WD can hopefully address the plateauing of access speeds compared to capacity (using dual-actuators or some other similar technology). This can make high-capacity HDDs attractive to home consumers / prosumers who may be rightly worried about long RAID rebuild times.

Source: Western Digital

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  • Dizoja86 - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    Is that 10E13 read error rate on the Red Pro correct? If so, that's ridiculously high.
  • meacupla - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    Yeah, that is oddly high. I would have expected the purple drive to have that error rate, but I guess not.

    I don't get the point of the Red drives when it's priced like that against Gold and Purple.
  • Kamen Rider Blade - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    Realistically, it's the same HDD with different Firmware underneath.
  • Samus - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    I wonder if such a high read error rate is reflective of the testing conditions to calculate that (like a 24-bay NAS enclosure)
  • Silver5urfer - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    No, Gold uses ePMR for 16TB and up and TSA as well, from their previous datasheet and the only revision of Gold drive is 20TB, all the rest are same. So I doubt they revised and removed both. Red is not Gold. Not at all. And shucking drives White Labels are not binned to Gold standards either. When they sell a retail Gold drive it must have that rating and reliability. And this is WD who nick and dimes consumers.
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    10E13 is the same as 10^14, which is pretty standard/average for a consumer grade hard drive.
  • Sheppyb - Tuesday, August 23, 2022 - link

    No, it is not!
    10E13 = 10^13 :)
  • jamesindevon - Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - link

    At least in part, that's the Time-Limited Error Recovery mentioned in the article. The drives simply won't retry for as long, preferring to fail fast and allow the RAID to get the data off the other copies in the RAID. That's a lot less intrusive for users than locking up the whole RAID for one request for one user.

    Also, if the disk waits for too long, some RAID controllers might conclude the whole disk is dodgy, and drop it from the RAID, causing significantly more problems.

    Hopefully the RAID will re-write a good copy of the data to the disk with the failing sector(s), allowing the hard disk to substitute spare sectors.
  • PEJUman - Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - link

    I think this MTBF got to be a copy paste error in WD marketing group. they all have to be 10E15. It's the same media & heads.... or is it?
  • Silver5urfer - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - link

    WD Gold is the only drive I would go for. Esp the 16TB and up because of higher reliability rating first and second they have ePMR / EAMR and TSA. No other series has that except Gold. OptiNAND is only available for 20TB and up due to the CMR and their new iNAND UFS tech making space with the existing 9 and 10 platter designs.

    Also the datasheet has 2 revisions of 20TB, I wonder what's the difference with them esp one has lower power consumption vs the other. I bought the higher power consumption one, maybe I should wait for the new drive and return this ? No idea, esp this WD is really a mess when it comes to these revisions, last time they did the revision for WD101KFBX Red Pro 10TB to WD102XXXX and they removed Helium from them.

    Finally the ArmorCache thing was supposed to be on all OptiNAND drives because their datasheet for the tech brief showed that only but now they are gating that to WD Gold line only lol that too only Gold 22TB variant, horrendous practices by WD really.

    One has to be super careful in choosing WD drives no doubt.

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