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….Company Aligns Growing Portfolio of Enterprise-Class SSDs and HDDs to Support Key Workloads Within the AI Data Cycle



By Love Ikuku-Oyedokun
Fueling the next wave of AI innovation, Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) today introduced a six-stage AI Data Cycle framework that defines the optimal storage mix for AI workloads at scale. This framework will help customers plan and develop advanced storage infrastructures to maximize their AI investments, improve efficiency, and 89the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their AI workflows
Cablenews24 reports that AI models operate in a continuous loop of data consumption and generation – processing text, images, audio and video among other data types while simultaneously producing new unique data.
As AI technologies become more advanced, data storage systems must deliver the capacity and performance to support the computational loads and speeds required for large, sophisticated models while managing immense volumes of data. Western Digital has strategically aligned its Flash and HDD product and technology roadmaps to the storage requirements of each critical stage of the cycle, and today introduced a new industry-leading, high-performance PCIe® Gen5 SSD to support AI training and inference; a high-capacity 64TB* SSD for fast AI data lakes; and the world’s highest capacity ePMR, UltraSMR 32TB* HDD for cost-effective storage at scale.
“There’s no doubt that Generative AI is the next transformational technology, and storage is a critical enabler. The implications for storage are expected to be significant as the role of storage, and access to data, influences the speed, efficiency and accuracy of AI Models, especially as larger and higher-quality data sets become more prevalent,” said Ed Burns, Research Director at IDC. “As a leader in Flash and HDD, Western Digital has an opportunity to benefit in this growing AI landscape with its strong market position and broad portfolio, which meets a variety of needs within the different AI data cycle stages.”
“Data is the fuel of AI. As AI technologies become embedded across virtually every industry sector, storage has become an increasingly important and dynamic component of the AI technology stack,” said Rob Soderbery, executive vice president and general manager of Western Digital’s Flash Business Unit. “The new AI Data Cycle framework will equip our customers to build a storage infrastructure that impacts the performance, scalability, and the deployment of AI applications, underscoring our commitment to deliver unparalleled value to our customers.”
Growing Suite of Enterprise AI Storage Solutions for Compute- and Storage-Intensive Workloads
The new Ultrastar DC SN861 SSD is Western Digital’s first enterprise-class PCIe Gen 5.0 solution with industry-leading random read performance and projected best-in-class power efficiency for AI workloads. With capacities up to 16TB, it delivers up to 3x random read performance increase versus the previous generation with ultra-low latency and incredible responsiveness for large language model (LLM) training, inferencing and AI service deployment. In addition, the low power profile delivers higher IOPS/Watt, reducing overall TCO. The increased PCIe Gen5 bandwidth addresses the growing needs of the AI market for high-speed accelerated computing combined with low latency to serve compute-intensive environments of AI.  Built for mission-critical workloads, the Ultrastar DC SN861 provides a rich feature set, including NVMe® 2.0 and OCP 2.0 support, 1 and 3 DWPD, and a 5-year limited warranty1.  The Ultrastar DC SN861 E1.S is now sampling. The U.2 will begin sampling this month and will begin volume shipments in CQ3’24. More details on E1.S and E3.S form factors will follow later this year.
Complementing the Ultrastar DC SN861, is the expanded Ultrastar DC SN655 enterprise-class SSD range designed for storage-intensive applications. The new options for the U.3 SSD will reach up to 64TB, driving higher performance and capacity for AI data preparation and faster, larger data lakes. These new DC SN655 variants are now sampling. More details about the drives will be released later this year when volume shipments begin.
Western Digital is also now sampling the industry’s highest-capacity, 32TB ePMR enterprise-class HDD to select customers. Designed for massive data storage in hyperscale cloud and enterprise data centers, the new Ultrastar DC HC690 high-capacity UltraSMR HDD will play a vital role in AI workflows where large-scale data storage and low TCO are paramount. Leveraging proven designs from generations of highly successful products, the new 32TB drive delivers unbeaten capacity with seamless qualification and integration for rapid deployment, while maintaining superior dependability and reliability. More details about the drive will be available later this summer.
“Each stage of the AI Data Cycle is unique with different infrastructure and compute requirements. By understanding the dynamic interplay between AI and data storage, Western Digital is delivering solutions that not only offer higher capacities but are also tailored to support the extreme performance and endurance of next-generation AI workloads,” said Soderbery. “With our growing portfolio, long-term roadmap and constant innovation, our goal is to help customers unlock the transformative capabilities of AI.”
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