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Toshiba and WD Reach Global Settlement and Agree to Strengthen Collaboration

Toshiba Corporation, Toshiba Memory Corporation, and Western Digital Corporation have entered into a global settlement agreement to resolve their ongoing disputes in litigation and arbitration, strengthen and extend their relationship, and enhance the mutual commitment to their ongoing flash memory collaboration.

As part of this agreement, TMC and Western Digital will participate jointly in future rounds of investment in Fab 6, the state-of-the-art memory fabrication facility now under construction at Yokkaichi, including the upcoming investment round announced by Toshiba in October 2017. Fab 6 will be entirely devoted to the mass production of BiCS FLASH, the next-generation of 3D flash memory, starting next year. TMC and Western Digital similarly intend to enter into definitive agreements in due course under which Western Digital will participate in the new flash wafer fabrication facility which will be constructed in Iwate, Japan.

The parties will strengthen their flash memory collaboration by extending the terms of their joint ventures. Flash Alliance will be extended to December 31, 2029 and Flash Forward to December 31, 2027. Flash Partners was previously extended to December 31, 2029.

Western Digital Announces "State of Object Storage" Survey

Western Digital today announced the results of its first annual "The Growing Role of Object Storage in Solving Unstructured Data Challenges" survey conducted in collaboration with 451 Research. Two hundred enterprise and service provider decision makers and influencers participated in the September 2017 survey, providing new and valuable insights into their unstructured data storage requirements, and their interest in adopting object storage.

The survey validated the ongoing explosion of unstructured data, with 63 percent of enterprises and service providers reporting that their storage capacities are at 50 petabytes (PB) or more, of which, more than half is unstructured data. Most service provider respondents reported growth rates in the 60 to 80 percent range, while enterprise customers hovered more toward 40 to 50 percent annual growth.

Next-generation applications that are driving the adoption of new unstructured data storage technologies, like object storage, include analytics and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as traditional applications, such as web and email that are outgrowing their traditional infrastructures. Increased use of rich media, instead of text data, including audio, video and non-text research and engineering data, are also primary drivers for this data growth.

WD Announces New Line of SanDisk 3D iNAND Embedded Flash Devices

Western Digital today introduced a new portfolio of advanced iNAND embedded flash drives (EFDs) to empower smartphone users to unlock the full potential of today's data-driven applications and experiences. Leveraging Western Digital's 64-layer 3D NAND technology and advanced UFS and e.MMC interface technologies, the intelligent, new iNAND 8521 and iNAND 7550 EFDs deliver outstanding data performance and high storage capacity.

When designed into smartphones and thin, lightweight computing devices, they accelerate the possibilities of a wide range of demanding data-centric applications, including augmented reality (AR), high resolution video capture and rich social media experiences, as well as emerging artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) experiences at the "edge." The volume, velocity, variety and value of data continues to exponentially grow and evolve across Big Data, Fast Data and personal data. Many consumers around the world will experience this confluence of data on their smartphone.

WDC Announces Successful Repricing of $2.963 Billion of USD Term B Loans

Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) ("Western Digital" or the "company") today announced that it has successfully priced $2.963 billion of new U.S. dollar-denominated term B-3 loans at an interest rate of LIBOR + 2.00%, which priced 75 basis points lower than its previous term B-2 loans issued in March 2017.

This new financing marks the company's third successful repricing of U.S. dollar-denominated term B loans since issuing its original term B loans in connection with its acquisition of SanDisk Corporation in May 2016. In connection with this transaction, Western Digital settled the previous U.S. dollar-denominated term B-2 loans with the proceeds of this new loan. The new financing is expected to generate annual cash interest savings of approximately $22 million beginning on Nov. 8, 2017, resulting from the 75 basis point reduction in interest spread.

The new term loans have the same remaining tenor as the previous U.S. dollar-denominated term B loans and mature on April 29, 2023.

Seagate Ready with HAMR Technology Enabling 20TB HDDs by 2018

Hot on the heels of Western Digital's announcement of an MAMR breakthrough enabling 40 TB hard drives in the near future, rival Seagate announced a magnetic storage technology breakthrough of its own, dubbed HAMR (heat-assisted magnetic recording). This technology will enable the development of hard drives with over 20 terabytes (TB) unformatted capacity by the end of 2018, which is a faster ramp-up than WD's 2019 timeline for the first MAMR-based drives. The first Seagate HAMR-based HDDs will ship with capacities of 20 TB, with the company promising 40 TB drives by 2023, well ahead of the 2025 timeline for 40 TB drives promised by WD.

Seagate HAMR is a fundamentally different technology than Western Digital MAMR. While MAMR relies on a spin-torque oscillator to generate a microwave field that burns finer magnetized bits on the disk, thereby increasing areal densities to 40 Tb per square inch, Seagate HAMR uses an extremely fine laser to heat up the RW head, creating finer magnetized bits. The physical layer of each bit is heated and cooled within nanoseconds, and hence a HAMR RW head draws relatively lower amounts of power - up to 8W for a random-write operation (the most power-consuming operation for a drive). Seagate promises RW endurance of 2 PB.

Source: ComputerBase.de

Western Digital Announces Magnetic Storage Breakthrough Enabling 40TB HDDs

At its "Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data" event today, Western Digital Corp. announced a breakthrough innovation for delivering ultra-high capacity hard disk drives (HDDs) to meet the future demands of Big Data with proven data center-level reliability. The event, held at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley, included a demonstration of the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) HDD and presentations from company executives and the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University. The company also showcased advancements in micro actuation and Damascene recording head technology. Western Digital expects to begin shipping ultra-high capacity MAMR HDDs in 2019 for use in data centers that support Big Data applications across a full range of industries.

"As the volume, velocity, variety, value and longevity of both Big Data and Fast Data grow, a new generation of storage technologies are needed to not only support ever-expanding capacities, but ultimately help our customers analyze and garner insights into our increasingly connected universe of data," said Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer at Western Digital. "Our ground-breaking advancement in MAMR technology will enable Western Digital to address the future of high capacity storage by redefining the density potential of HDDs and introduce a new class of highly reliable, 'ultra-high capacity' drives. We have a proven track record for identifying, investing in and delivering advanced technologies that create new product categories and enable the world to realize the possibilities of data. Five years ago we introduced our HelioSeal, helium-filled drive technology. Since then, we have shipped more than 20 million helium drives. That type of leadership and innovation continues today and we aim to leverage it well into the future."

SanDisk Initiates New Arbitration Proceedings Against Toshiba In the ICC

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) today announced that several of its SanDisk subsidiaries have filed an additional Request for Arbitration with the ICC International Court of Arbitration related to three NAND flash-memory joint ventures ("JVs") operated with Toshiba Corporation ("Toshiba").

On Aug. 3, 2017, Toshiba announced that it would unilaterally invest in manufacturing equipment for the Fab 6 clean room at the JV operations in Yokkaichi, Japan. The arbitration demand seeks, among other things, a permanent injunction preventing Toshiba from making unilateral investments in manufacturing equipment for Fab 6 without first giving SanDisk the opportunity to make a comparable investment in expansions and conversions of JV capacity for BiCS 3D NAND flash memory.

Western Digital commented: It is unfortunate that SanDisk is forced to initiate binding arbitration to remedy Toshiba's retaliatory breach of the JV agreement entered into by both SanDisk and Toshiba.

Western Digital Ships 12 TB WD Gold Hard Drives

Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), a global data storage technology and solutions leader, has expanded its WD Gold hard drive lineup to include a 12 TB capacity model, designed to address demanding Big Data workloads. The new high-capacity hard drives provide for increased storage density in a range of enterprise and cloud storage applications. Whether data comes in the form of confidential consumer data, healthcare records or business intelligence, WD Gold hard drives provide a no-compromise storage solution that modern day IT managers need.

"As data growth continues unabated, retaining more of that data and generating meaningful insight from it becomes increasingly important," said Brendan Collins, vice president, Devices business unit, Western Digital. "Businesses that most effectively extract value from operational data are able to make smarter decisions, improve business outcomes and ultimately gain a competitive advantage."

WD Comments on Toshiba's Statement Regarding NAND Flash-Memory JV

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) today commented on Toshiba Corporation's ("Toshiba") statement regarding the transfer of its interests in its NAND flash-memory joint ventures operated with Western Digital's SanDisk subsidiaries ("JVs"):

"We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action despite Western Digital's tireless efforts to reach a resolution that is in the best interests of all stakeholders. Throughout our ongoing dialogue with Toshiba, we have been flexible, constructive and have submitted numerous proposals to specifically address Toshiba's stated concerns. Our goal has been - and remains - to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders, and most importantly, ensures the longevity and continued success of the JVs.

Furthermore, it is surprising that Toshiba would continue to pursue a transaction with a consortium led by Korea-based SK Hynix Inc. and Bain Capital Japan without SanDisk's consent, as the language in the relevant JV agreements is unambiguous, and multiple courts have ruled in favor of protecting SanDisk's contractual rights. We remain confident in our ability to protect our JV interests and consent rights."

Toshiba to Sell Memory Production Sector to WD-led Consortium for $18.3 billion

It's been an interesting time if you're an avid reader of memory-related news pieces. Between increasing prices, Toshiba's debacle and subsequent spin-off of their memory division, to Toshiba and Western Digital butting heads regarding acquisition of said spin-off, and today's news, little was left to thread. Now, reports are surfacing that place Western Digital's consortium as being the (as of yet unofficial) winner in the bid for Toshiba's partial spin-off of their memory division. The deal is being valued at $18.3 billion, Japanese news outlet Nikkan Kogyo says, with Toshiba planning to make a formal decision on Wednesday, with the signing of an agreement to come on Sept. 20.

Western Digital Looking Towards Apple for Additional Funds in Toshiba Bid

The partial spin-off of Toshiba's memory production business, which should see the company shed around 20% of its memory business production stake, still has a lot of water to run under the bridge. Reports said that Toshiba would be suing Western Digital, which Toshiba said tried to continuously interfere with the bidding process, it seems that Western Digital isn't looking to back down any time soon. Reuters is reporting that Western digital is now looking to Apple to bolster its bidding position by another 50 billion Yen (around $464 million) to increase the likelihood of acceptance.

Granted, that is somewhat of a fraction of Western Digital's $17 to $18 billion bid for the chip business, but any increased amount of investment is likely to only sway the decision towards WD, who has a joint venture with Toshiba towards furthering memory semiconductor technology. Even though Toshiba has already elected a preferred bidder, nothing is closed as of yet. That Western Digital is looking towards Apple is slightly surprising, but begins to look less so the more you think about it: Apple is one of the foremost buyers of memory semiconductors in the industry; pricing for both flash and DDR memory has seen price hikes in the past due to increased production of iPhones, after all. It's in Apple's best interests to have an amenable partner in the memory production business, which is why an Apple aid for Western Digital might turn out advantageous for the company. Toshiba executives, fearing that WD might be angling to eventually take over the chip business (which isn't unreasonable), are demanding that the U.S. company promise to limit the size of its stake in the company. Toshiba's board is now aiming to reach a final agreement with the consortium by Sept. 13.

Source: Reuters

Western Digital Updates My Book Duo Desktop Storage - Up to 20 TB

For some users, having three HDDs of differing capacities in their system isn't the right solution for achieving the storage space they need. Others don't want to have their files uploaded to the cloud, where security and access times to their files may become hindrances. Some people just like to have all their files offline, in a (somewhat) portable medium that achieves up to 360 MB/s sequential read speeds. Enter Western Digital's updated My Book Duo external desktop storage.

RAID-optimized WD Red hard drives (formatted NTFS out of the box) enable those read speeds, and capacities of 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 12 TB, 16 TB and 20 TB are available. Connectivity-wise, the My Book duo offers USB Type-C and Type-A, while security isn't left out the door, with built-in password protection and 256-bit AES hardware encryption with WD Security software. The unit measures 7.09 x 6.3 x 3.94 inches and weighs between 5.05 to 5.25 pounds depending on drive capacity. The My Book Duo is available now, with pricing at $259.99 for the 4 TB unit, and a maximum of $799.99 for the 20 TB model, all with a three-year warranty.

Source: TechSpot

Western Digital Announces Four-Bits-Per-Cell (X4) Technology on 3D NAND

Western Digital Corp. today announced its successful development of four bits per cell, X4, flash memory architecture offering on 64-layer 3D NAND, BiCS3, technology. Building on its pioneering innovation of X4 for 2D NAND technology and past success in commercializing it, the company has now developed X4 for 3D NAND by leveraging its deep vertical integration capabilities. These include silicon wafer processing, device engineering to provide sixteen distinct data levels in every storage node, and system expertise for overall flash management. BiCS3 X4 technology delivers an industry-leading storage capacity of 768 gigabits on a single chip, a 50 percent increase from the prior 512 gigabit chip that was enabled with the three bits per cell (X3) architecture. Western Digital will showcase removable products and solid-state drives built with BiCS3 X4 and systems capabilities in August at the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California.

"The implementation of X4 architecture on BiCS3 is a significant development for Western Digital as it demonstrates our continued leadership in NAND flash technology, and it also enables us to offer an expanded choice of storage solutions for our customers," said Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president, Memory Technology, Western Digital. "The most striking aspect in today's announcement is the use of innovative techniques in the X4 architecture that allows our BiCS3 X4 to deliver performance attributes comparable to those in BiCS3 X3. The narrowing of the performance gap between the X4 and X3 architectures is an important and differentiating capability for us, and it should help drive broader market acceptance of X4 technology over the next several years."

Toshiba and WD Power Struggle Continues - WD Bid for Toshiba's Business 6 Times

You must remember the ongoing house of horrors that is Toshiba's financial situation. Granted, it isn't that bad - the company is still managing to push the envelope on its semiconductor production business. Still, I'm sure the company would have liked to not be on the verge of selling out 20% of its memory business production stake - which is one of the company's most profitable divisions to begin with.

Western Digital Introduces 10 TB RED, RED PRO HDDs

Western Digital has introduced new models to its RED and RED PRO line-up of HDDs. The RED series is oriented more towards a NAS environment, though nothing is really stopping you from putting on of these into your system. These use the same HelioSeal technology that WD uses on their enterprise-class drives, which allows the company to increase the capacity of the RED and RED PRO drives by 25%.

The normal RED drive is built for systems with up to 8 drive bays, while the RED PRO is built for systems with up to 16 drive bays. The RED series is more silent, with an internal spindle speed of 5400RPM, while the RED PRO series comes with a 7200RPM speed. This means the PRO series is louder while operating, but also that is has better performance and faster data access times.

Western Digital SanDisk Subsidiaries Initiate Arbitration with Toshiba at ICC

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ:WDC) today announced that several of its SanDisk subsidiaries have filed a Request for Arbitration with the ICC International Court of Arbitration related to three NAND flash-memory joint ventures ("the Flash JVs") operated with Toshiba Corporation ("Toshiba

The arbitration demand seeks among other things an order requiring Toshiba to unwind the transfer to Toshiba Memory, and injunctive relief preventing Toshiba from further breaching the Flash JV agreements by transferring its Flash JV interests, or any interest in an affiliate that holds its Flash JV interests, without SanDisk's consent. Per the provisions of the joint venture agreements, the arbitration will take place in San Francisco, California.

Western Digital chief executive officer Steve Milligan stated, "The Flash JVs have been operated with Toshiba for the past 17 years and have been highly successful for the JV partners and for Japan. We continue to be actively engaged in discussions with Toshiba's stakeholders to ensure that they are fully aware of our joint venture rights and of our desire to work with Toshiba to achieve a favorable outcome for all parties. We firmly believe that we provide Toshiba with the optimal solution to address its challenges, and that we are the best partner to advance its legacy of technology innovation in Japan."

HGST Ships Ultrastar He12 12TB Enterprise Hard Drives

Western Digital Corp. today announced that it has begun shipping its fourth-generation helium-based hard drive with its 12TB HGST-branded Ultrastar He12 hard drive. The Ultrastar He12 12TB hard drive is the next generation of the company's award-winning high capacity enterprise-class drive with HelioSeal technology, providing customers with a data storage solution addressing the expansive information management needs and demanding performance requirements of today's enterprise, cloud and hyperscale workloads.

"We have again raised the bar in enterprise storage with the industry's most advanced and cost-effective highest capacity helium HDD storage solutions," said Mark Grace, senior vice president of devices at Western Digital. "The Ultrastar He12 hard drive advances Western Digital's portfolio leveraging the HelioSeal platform to deliver industry-leading high capacity HDD storage with exceptional power efficiency. Western Digital has shipped over 15M helium-based high capacity drives to date and continues to support our customers with outstanding reliability and Quality of Service (QoS). Our industry-leading data center portfolio enables customers across the spectrum to meet their evolving and dynamic data center demand."

G-Technology Announces Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C Updates to its Product Lines

Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), a global storage technology and solutions leader, today announced upgrades to its award-winning G-Technology product lines, including the addition of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connectivity technologies. The upgrades optimize the speed and performance of these drives, meeting the growing needs of creative professionals who are capturing and transferring vast amounts of high-resolution content.

"G-Technology recognizes the need for a complete workflow solution that takes advantage of the power of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C," said Sven Rathjen, vice president of marketing, Client Solutions, Western Digital. "The result is a substantial upgrade across several product lines that delivers reliable, fast, and easy-to-use storage solutions to fit the current and future needs of our customers."

Western Digital Unveils Its First WD Portable SSD

Western Digital Corporation, a global storage technology and solutions leader, today introduced its fastest WD brand portable drive yet, the My Passport SSD. Featuring blazing-fast speeds and award-winning design, the new My Passport SSD compliments the company's leading portfolio of My Passport palm-sized storage devices. Designed for content creators and tech enthusiasts, the new My Passport SSD combines exceptional speed and portability to manage massive files on the go.

"The WD brand is focused on delivering fresh, new personal storage devices that offer amazing performance in a beautiful, yet durable design," said Sven Rathjen, vice president of marketing, Client Solutions, Western Digital. "Our fastest portable drive yet, the My Passport SSD is a powerful solution for people who need to move content quickly and easily wherever life takes them."

Western Digital Announces a 10TB Variant of WD Purple Surveillance-class HDDs

Western Digital Corporation, a storage industry leader, today announced the availability of the WD Purple 10 TB HDD, the newest member of its high-capacity hard drive line for surveillance applications. According the IHS Markit, anticipated growth of 4K-compliant and high-resolution network cameras over the next few years is driving higher demand for surveillance-class storage to support systems featuring these technologies. With increased capacity and proven leading-edge technology, the WD Purple 10 TB HDD is optimized for 24x7 video surveillance systems and up to 64 high-definition (HD) cameras in home and small business security environments.

"Advanced imaging technology advancements are expanding the value that video surveillance provides for applications ranging from retail and public safety monitoring to smart-city infrastructure, all of which are driving new storage needs," said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing. "Our new 10 TB drive inherits the high performance, reliability and endurance qualities of our WD Purple family, with maximum capacity to offer VARs, integrators and consumers a 4K-ready solution for current and next-generation surveillance systems."

Death By a Thousand Cuts: Toshiba to Sell Majority of its Semiconductor Business

Toshiba may not be dead in the water just yet, but news are dire for the company. After the company confirmed it was looking to spin-off its NAND production business so as to sell a minority, 20% stake for much-needed liquidity in the face of amounting debt and multiple management mistakes, reports now announce a much more aggressive stance from the company. It is now apparently looking to sell a majority stake (60%) on the spin-off, in the face of escalating costs and dwindling prospective chances.

WD Announces Pilot Production of World's First 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND

Toshiba may be in the ropes for now, but WD, one of its foremost partners (mainly due to its SanDisk acquisition) and most interested party in Toshiba's NAND spin-off efforts, has just announced that it is world first in actually producing a 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND die. WD is developing and producing this 64-layer NAND at its Yokkaichi, Japan fab which it operates alongside - you guessed it - Toshiba, under their joint Flash Forward venture, though there is no indication as to when the new dies will hit full production. The addition of the latest BiCS3 iteration indicates that, despite its recent challenges and snags, Toshiba continues to execute on its semiconductor roadmap, which is certain to be a boon in keeping the value of its NAND production capabilities in the face of the confirmed spin-off and sell-off of a 20% stake on its NAND production business.

There has been some difficulty in achieving any significant ramp-up in 3D NAND production over at the WD-Toshiba venture, with WD having announced a 256 Gb version of the same BiCS 3 technology it employs on the new 512 Gb die last year, to no considerable volume of production. That's one of the reasons for the current NAND shortage and price rises, among other factors, so let's hope all goes well in this ramp up. If all goes well, 1 TB SSD's with 512 Gb TLC NAND dies for $150?

Backblaze's 2016 HDD Failure Stats Revealed: HGST the Most Reliable

Backblaze has just revealed their HDD failure rates statistics, with updates regarding 2016's Q4 and full-year analysis. These 2016 results join the company's statistics, which started being collected and collated in April 2013, to shed some light on the most - and least reliable - manufacturers. A total of 1,225 drives failed in 2016, which means the drive failure rate for 2016 was just 1.95 percent, a improving over the 2.47 percent that died in 2015 and miles below the 6.39 percent that hit the garbage bin in 2014.

Organizing 2016's failure rates by drive size, independent of manufacturer, we see that 3 TB hard drives are the most reliable (with 1,40% failure rates), with 5 TB hard drives being the least reliable (at a 2,22% failure rate). When we organize the drives by manufacturer, HGST, which powers 34% (24,545) of the total drives (71,939), claims the reliability crown, with a measly 0,60% failure rate, and WDC bringing up the rear on reliability terms, with an average 3,88% failure rate, while simultaneously being one of the least represented manufacturers, with only 1,626 HDDs being used from the manufacturer.

Source: Backblaze

Toshiba to Spin-off NAND Production; WD to be Main Beneficiary

In an AMD-like move to generate more short-term liquidity so as to strengthen its somewhat precarious position, Toshiba may be moving towards one of the most interesting shakeups in the NAND production field: a possible spin-off of its NAND production business into a separate company.

This move to restructure comes in the wake of recent snags and strategic mistakes for the company - such as the $1.2 billion dollar accounting "misstated" earnings, which created difficulties for the company to refinance itself in the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Also not negligible was a gross miscalculation on the amount of debt of the CB&I Stone and Webster company that Toshiba acquired so as to facilitate its U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric nuclear plant subsidiary investment. This "miscalculation", where Toshiba considered the "goodwill" booking charges at $87 million, where recently restated as a roughly-defined "several billion U.S. dollars."

Western Digital Announces the WD Black PCIe SSD

Western Digital has announced the WD Black PCIe SSD, their first PCIe SSD for the consumer market. This particular SSD is aimed at the cheaper half of the M.2 PCIe SSD market rather than competing for the highest performance: it will be available in 256GB and 512GB capacities for $109 and $199.99 respectively, making it cheaper than any currently available M.2 PCIe SSD except the Intel 600p.
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