WD My Passport SSD: Up to 1 TB, AES-256, USB-C

Western Digital has announced its first external SSDs to be sold under the WD brand. The My Passport SSDs are shock resistant, support hardware-based AES-256 encryption, use USB 3.1 Type-C at 10 Gb/s and promise to offer up to 515 MB/s transfer rates.

Western Digital does not disclose too many details about its WD My Passport external SSDs, but only says that the family includes models with 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB capacities. From the rated performance point of view, the WD My Passport seems to be faster than many other external SSDs that typically come rated for ~450 MB/s read speed, but real-world performance will need to be tested.

WD My Passport SSD Specifications
256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Speed Up to 550 MB/s
Interface USB 3.1 Type-C (10 Gbps), USB-C => USB-A adapter included
Color Grey and Black
Dimensions Height: 10 mm (0.39 in)
Depth: 90 mm (3.5 in)
Width: 45 mm (1.8 in)
Operating Temperature 5°C to 35°C
Non-Operating Temperature -20°C to 65°C
Price $99.99 $199.99 $399.99

Typically manufacturers use their internal SSDs for their USB-powered drives, so, it is logical to expect Western Digital to use either its current or next generation of its mainstream SATA offerings, with appropriate firmware, for the My Passport products. Given the fact that we do not know which drives are inside the external SSDs, we cannot say whether the My Passport SSD devices use planar or 3D NAND flash, but keep in mind that so far Western Digital has not announced a single 3D NAND-powered consumer SSD. Some good news is that the actual drive inside the My Passport SSD supports hardware AES-256 encryption (which indicates a more or less sophisticated controller) to improve performance for those who care about the security of their external data storage devices.

Unlike the WD My Passport hard drives, the My Passport SSD does not resemble an actual passport, but comes in a rugged 90×45×10 mm enclosure made of a gray metal that is tested to survive a 1.98 meters (6.5 feet) drop.

The drive is formatted as a single exFAT partition and is compatible with all modern versions of Apple macOS (Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra) and Microsoft Windows (7, 8, 10). WD’s Backup software only works with Windows, whereas Mac owners can use only WD Security as well as WD Drive Utilities. Unfortunately, the My Passport SSDs do not support Google Android (at least for now).

Western Digital is currently offering its My Passport SSDs exclusively in Best Buy stores in the US, with wider global availability expected later this quarter. Each drive comes with a USB Type-C cable rated for 10 Gbps as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter. As for pricing, WD plans to charge $99.99, $199.99 and $399.99 for the 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB models respectively.

Western Digital Expands Purple Lineup with a 10 TB

Western Digital has expanded its Purple lineup of hard drives, aimed at video surveillance applications, with a 10 TB helium-filled HDD. The drive is optimized for write-intensive workloads and supports various technologies that minimize the number of potential errors due to the high-number of incoming data streams. The new WD Purple is also the company’s first 10 TB HDD with a 5400 RPM spindle speed and a large cache.

The WD Purple 10 TB drive (WD100PURZ) is based on the HelioSeal platform featuring seven PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters with ~1.4 TB capacity apiece, which it inherited from last year’s top-of-the-range HDDs. The increased areal density of the platters allowed the hard drive to increase its sustained transfer speed from host to drive to 210 MB/s, or by ~18% compared to the previous-generation helium-sealed WD Purple 8 TB HDD (WD80PUZX, 178 MB/s). This is at the same 5400 RPM spindle speed and at a slightly lower power consumption (up to 6.2 W vs up to 6.4 W). Just like other hard drives with a 10 TB capacity, the new WD Purple is equipped with a 256 MB DRAM buffer, which may further increase the real-world performance of the HDD against its predecessors.

Comparison of Western Digital’s WD Purple HDDs
Capacity 10 TB 8 TB 6 TB 5 TB
RPM 5400 RPM
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
DRAM Cache 256 MB 128 MB 64 MB
Helium-Filling Yes No
Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive) 210 MB/s 178 MB/s 170 MB/s 150 MB/s
MTBF unknown 1 million hours
Rated Workload (read and write) 180 TB/year
Acoustics (Seek) 29 dBA 26 dBA
Power Consumption Sequential read/write 6.2 W 6.4 W 5.3 W
Idle 5 W 5.7 W 4.9 W
Sleep 0.5 W 0.7 W 0.4 W
Warranty 3 Years
Price (as of April 2017) $399.99 $281.99 $214 $200
$0.04 per GB $0.035 per GB $0.035 per GB $0.04 per GB
25 GB per $ 28.39 GB per $ 28.03 GB per $ 25 GB per $

Since the WD Purple hard drives are purpose-built for video surveillance applications, they support the ATA streaming extension of the SATA standard as well as a number of WD proprietary technologies, including AllFrame 4K cache policy management and firmware enhancements to optimize data flows during playback and writing. All WD Purple drives can work with up to 64 cameras and are rated for a 180 TB/year workload. In addition, high-capacity WD Purple HDDs are optimized for operation in NVRs and DVRs with more than eight drives and support time-limited error recovery technology (TLER), which prevents drive fallout caused by extended HDD error recovery processes.

Western Digital claims that the new WD Purple 10 TB is compatible with new and existing video surveillance systems (including chassis, chipsets, etc.) and thus can be used for new and current deployments (except those that require drives with 512B/512e sectors – the new WD Purple only support 4Kn sectors). The manufacturer has already started to ship the new hard drives to its partners and they will be available shortly for $399.99.

While the addition of a 10 TB HDD into the WD Purple series is a significant event, the fact that Western Digital began to roll out 10 TB helium-filled hard drives with a 5400 RPM spindle speed is even more important (until recently, WD used to offer only 8 TB helium-filled 5K HDDs). With the introduction of a 10 TB product with a reduced spindle speed, Western Digital can launch WD Red and WD My Book hard drives of the same capacity in the coming weeks or months. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that recently Western Digital cut down the price of its WD Purple 8 TB HDD by 30% and it can now be acquired for $281.99 from Amazon.