Disclosure: PC World reviews edtior Harley Ogier attended the WD Red launch in Sydney, as a guest of Western Digital.
Data storage vendor Western Digital announced on Tuesday a new range of mechanical hard drives, the ‘WD Red’ series. WD Red drives are designed for use in home and ‘very small business’ network attached storage (NAS) devices. The range joins WD’s existing three colour-coded series of hard drives: ‘everyday’ WD Blue, low-power WD Green, and enthusiast-level WD Black.
The WD Red series was created in response to the rapidly growing NAS market, in particular the trend toward ‘diskless’ NAS units aimed at consumers. Western Digital’s Albert Chang (Senior Manager, Product Marketing) said at the product’s Australia/New Zealand launch in Sydney that the company had seen an opportunity to “create a category”, and address consumer confusion regarding which series of hard drives, and which particular models, are suitable for home NAS use.
In order to clarify product choice, there will only be a single range of WD Red drives, the models in that series differentiated only by size. All models will run the same firmware, and the product range will be ‘refreshed’ at a slower rate than WD’s existing drive ranges.
Three major hardware changes define the WD Red series:
Cache has been upgraded from the DDR RAM found in Western Digital’s existing drives, to doubly-fast DDR 2 RAM, increasing transfer speeds.
During manufacture, a new ‘3D active balance’ process improves platter balancing within the drives, reducing vibration during drive use. This in turn leads to reduced heat generation and noise, valuable in multi-drive NAS setups.
Finally, new ‘NASware’ firmware is optimised for use with NAS devices, rather than the desktop PCs existing consumer drives are designed for.
Currrently WD Red drives are available in the 3.5-inch form factor, at 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities, priced at NZ$169, $209 and $279 respectively. All drives feature a 65MB DDR2 cache, and include 24/7 phone support.
NAS vendors Promise Technology, Inc, QNAP and Synology also attended the launch event, and have each tested a wide range of their existing consumer NAS devices for compatibility with the WD Red drives. All three vendors support for Western Digital’s creation of a NAS-specific drive category.
Sample drives are currently inbound to PC World, and we will pots a review as soon as those samples have been received and tested in our Auckland lab.