Brighter than the Stars: HGST rebranding and replenishment of the Ultrastar line

Late last year, the Ultrastar brand celebrated its 25th anniversary. Over the course of its existence, this brand of corporate drives has become truly legendary: it was under its banner that innovative products saw the light forever change the hard drive market. Such an important date (which is really shy) in the history of the whole industry almost coincided with the completion of the rebranding of HGST, the need for which had long been brewing due to legal circumstances. To make it easier for you to understand the current portfolio of Western Digital Ultrastar, we have prepared today’s material, at the same time deciding to conduct a short excursion into the history of the legendary brand.

The history of Ultrastar began a quarter of a century ago, when in 1994 IBM launched the production of “stellar” HDD lines: Deskstar intended for home computers, Travelstar for laptops and Ultrastar winchesters oriented to the corporate segment. The product turned out to be so successful that when, on January 6, 2003, the Japanese financial and industrial group Hitachi Ltd. bought the production of hard drives from IBM, the original name was retained – only the name of the company changed. As further development, Ultrastar products have undergone a number of important updates. The first major innovation was the use of GMR sensors made using thin-film technology and surpassing the usual MR heads in those days in almost all respects, as well as the transition to the method of perpendicular magnetic recording.

Recall that until 2006, the industry standard was longitudinal recording, in which the magnetization vector lay in the plane of the magnetic plate. Since the mutual influence of horizontal domains with this approach was too great, the maximum achievable recording density by this method could not exceed 23 Gbit / cm2. In the case of PMR, bits of information are stored in vertical domains, which made it possible to significantly increase the recording density (up to 62 Gbit / cm2 in the first prototypes) and overcome the psychologically important 1 TB barrier already in 2007.

March 8, 2012 HGST was purchased by Western Digital. During this time, the asset has appreciably increased in price, and the deal amounted to 4.8 billion dollars, but such a substantial investment was fully justified. The glorious traditions of the star series continued: already in November 2013, deliveries of innovative He6 hard drives with a capacity of 6 terabytes based on the first-generation HelioSeal platform began to data centers around the world.

The creation of a completely sealed housing filled with helium provided a number of important advantages. Reducing the resistance of the gas medium and turbulence helped to reduce the distance between the magnetic plates, increasing their number from 5 to 7, as well as to reduce the gap between the writing head and the surface of the pancake, which ensured high accuracy of its positioning and, as a result, significantly reduced the distance between the tracks. Due to all of the above, in 2014 the world’s first 10 TB hard drive was created – the HGST Ultrastar HE10, which turned out to be not only the most capacious in the world, but also the most economical.

2018 was marked by the completion of the merger of Western Digital and HGST, which naturally led to a consistent rebranding of the entire line (recall that the abbreviation stands for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, and Western Digital is not legally entitled to use a foreign trademark for commercial purposes). In connection with such an important event, it was decided to combine current hard drives and enterprise-class solid-state drives in a single series, while maintaining the legendary name Ultrastar. First of all, the existing product lines underwent rebranding.

Original name

Name after rebranding

HGST Ultrastar 7K2

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HA210

HGST Ultrastar 7K6

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC310

HGST Ultrastar 7K8

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC320

HGST Ultrastar He10

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC510

HGST Ultrastar He12

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC520

HGST Ultrastar SA210 SATA SSD

Western Digital Ultrastar DC SA210 SATA SSD

HGST Ultrastar SS200 SAS SSD

Western Digital Ultrastar DC SS200 SAS SSD

HGST Ultrastar SS300 SAS SSD

Western Digital Ultrastar DC SS300 SAS SSD

HGST Ultrastar SN200 PCIe SSD

Western Digital Ultrastar DC SN200 NVMe SSD

HGST Ultrastar SN260 PCIe SSD

Western Digital Ultrastar DC SN200 NVMe SSD

We also decided to eliminate the WD Gold product line. Since the hard drives of the “golden” series and devices coming under the Ultrastar brand were originally developed on the basis of a single hardware platform, the further development of two identical brands lost their practical meaning. We’ll make a reservation right away: all warranty obligations with respect to both drives already sold and those in retail and wholesale will be fully implemented.

Especially for those who already use WD Gold drives and plan to increase computing power in the near future, we have prepared a comparative table that compares the enterprise-drives of the “golden” line and the current Ultrastar models. This information will help you navigate your procurement planning.

Wd gold



Capacity, tb



































A brief overview of the current line of HDD and SSD Ultrastar

At the moment, the Ultrastar brand has absorbed an almost complete range of HDDs and industrial-grade solid-state drives suitable for solving a variety of application problems. Below we provide a brief description of each of the existing product lines.

Ultrastar DC HA 210

Low-cost drives with 1 or 2 TB, equipped with a SATA III interface with a throughput of 6 Gb / s, are focused on operation as part of Tier 1-2 data centers. Using 512 kilobyte sectors ensures compatibility with legacy operating systems and business applications. Support for TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) eliminates the possibility of a random RAID decay in cases of exceeding the error correction limit, and the head unit auto-parking technology provides the best protection for drive components during sudden power outages and during transportation.

The technology of adaptive compensation of rotational vibration RVS (Rotational Vibration Safeguard) in combination with a two-stage microdrive provides constant device performance and additional data protection thanks to the correction of the trajectory of the magnetic heads in real time based on information received from multi-axial accelerometers, which allows the use of hard drives in multi-disk storage facilities. The picture is supplemented by dynamic adjustment of the flight height of the magnetic heads above the surface of the plates in real time, which allows to achieve the optimal balance between reliability and performance.

Ultrastar DC HC 300

Industrial 3.5-inch drives with a capacity of 4 to 10 TB with SATA (6 Gb / s) or SAS (12 Gbit / s) interfaces and a spindle speed of 7200 rpm are adapted to work in conditions of highly loaded data centers and organically combine parameters such as roominess and economy. The ability to work with 512 byte and 4 KB sectors makes these models truly universal, providing support for outdated software. Among the many advantages of the series drives, it is worth noting the Rebuild Assist function, which significantly reduces the recovery time of the RAID array due to the selective processing of damaged data. In turn, Western Digital’s proprietary disk caching technology and nonvolatile flash-based cache (NVC) guarantee file integrity in case of power outages, and the second-generation two-stage magnetic drive of magnetic heads ensures constant server performance even in the most difficult conditions.

Ultrastar DC HC 500

Switching to enterprise-class drives based on the fourth-generation HelioSeal platform with a capacity of 10, 12 and 14 TB will help minimize operating costs for maintaining IT infrastructure by increasing data storage density (up to 75% compared to “airborne” hard drives), high energy efficiency (up to 58%) and lower costs for air conditioning server rooms. The technology of two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) and a two-position microactuator have significantly improved the reliability of the drive and the accuracy of the positioning of the writing heads, providing better performance and data integrity in conditions of strong vibration. In addition, filling hard disks with rarefied helium favorably affected their reliability: the MTBF of the DC HC 500 series reaches 2.5 million hours (25% higher compared to “airborne” hard drives), which is an absolute record for HDD enterprise class.

Ultrastar DC HC 600 SMR

The series includes high-capacity SATA and SAS drives focused on the use of cloud and hyper-scale data centers, including the world’s first 20-terabyte Ultrastar DC HC 650 hard drive, created on the basis of the sixth generation HelioSeal technology. The listed hard drives support the advanced Shingled Magnetic Recording method, which significantly reduced their power consumption at the rate of watts per terabyte of stored information. SMR allows you to reduce the distance between the magnetic tracks, further increase the recording density and, thus, increase the number of tracks on each plate, which is achieved by partially overlapping the previous track of each subsequent one. This approach provides up to 60% gain (compared to 12 terabyte solutions) in capacity.

For interaction between disks and Storage Stack, a set of ATA and SCSI (Host-managed SMR) standard extensions is used, which guarantees stable drive performance. Thanks to all of the above, Ultrastar DC HC 600 is one of the best solutions for building high-capacity backup systems and file storages, showing excellent results in multi-threaded data processing.

Ultrastar DC ME 200

Unique solid-state drives with a capacity of 1, 2 and 4 terabytes will help to significantly improve the performance of server hardware with minimal modernization costs. The device comes with proprietary software solutions Memory Extension Drive, which allows you to use the SSD to create a virtual pool of RAM in the same address space with the DRAM server. This makes it possible to increase the amount of system memory up to 24 TiB for a 1U server and up to 96 TiB for 4U.

Using Ultrastar DC ME 200 allows you to successfully overcome the existing technical limitations on the amount of RAM standard server platforms and create optimal price / performance systems suitable for solving demanding tasks such as distributed computing, digital analytics, virtualization, machine learning or infrastructure support IoT.

Ultrastar DC SA 210

Compact enterprise-class SATA drives with capacities from 120 GB to 1.92 TB, available in 2.5-inch and M.2 2280 form factors, optimally suited for use as 1U boot disks and blade servers, as well as for operation in highly loaded environments. The devices are based on the third-generation 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory and demonstrate an impressive 510 MB / s sequential read speed and throughput of up to 64,000 IOPS in mixed scenarios, allowing you to fully unlock the computing potential of your platform. The end-to-end protection function and support for the error correction algorithm based on low density parity check codes (LDPC) can additionally protect corporate data without adversely affecting device performance. To ensure the safety of critical information, Ultrastar DC SA210 has a hardware-based SED (self-encrypting drive) encryption mechanism compatible with TCG OPAL 2.01.

Ultrastar DC SS 500

High-performance SSDs with capacities from 400 GB to 15 TB with a dual-port SAS interface (12 Gb / s) are adapted for data processing models such as OLTP and OLAP. Thanks to a combination of high speed and fault tolerance, they are optimally suited for use in high-performance Tier-0 environments, software-defined storage systems (SDS) and high-performance computing (HPC), demonstrating record-breaking performance for their class up to 470 thousand IOPS in random mode read and up to 240 thousand IOPS in random write mode. The use of the latest generation of 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash chips made it possible to achieve an MTBF of 2.5 million hours and reduce the annual failure rate (AFR) ratio to 0.35%. In turn, support for corporate encryption standards TCG (Trusted Computing Group) and FIPS 140-2 ensures the security of confidential information.

Ultrastar NVMe

The Ultrastar NVMe family of SSDs includes four product lines: DC SN 200, DC SN300, DC SN 630, and DC SN 640.

Ultrastar DC SN 200

High-performance solid-state drives in form factors U.2 and HH-HL with capacities from 960 GB to 6.4 TB show record low latency reads (no more than 20 μs), which is 30% lower compared to previous generation drives, and also impressive speed in mixed read / write mode – up to 580,000 IOPS. Thanks to optimizations for working with OLTP and OLAP applications, they are optimally suited for cloud computing and use as part of hyperscale infrastructure. Dual-Port support provides dual redundancy, while ETEP (End-to-End Data Path Protection – End-to-End Data Link Protection) and proprietary power failure protection technology help minimize the chance of critical data loss.

Ultrastar DC SN 300

The Ultrastar DC SN 340 SSD series includes 3.84 and 7.68 TB models in the U.2 form factor of 7 mm / 2.5 inches. Demonstrating speeds of up to 420,000 IOPS in sequential read operations at 6.5 W, the Ultrastar DC SN 340s are the most efficient and economical NVMe SSDs in the Western Digital portfolio: with support for the PCIe Gen 3×4 interface, they can reach speeds of up to 3.1 GB / with sequential read and 1.4 GB / s – when writing files. The innovative architecture of Western Digital controllers provides record read latencies of up to 500 μs in 99.99% of cases, regardless of queue depth, using hardware-accelerated query processing mechanisms. All these features make Ultrastar DC SN 340 the best choice for hosting distributed NoSQL databases (for example, Apache Cassandra, MongoDB), AI / ML, OLTP or CDN.

Ultrastar DC SN 630

Industrial-grade SSDs with capacities up to 7.84 TB with PCIe Gen 3×4 NVMe 1.2 interface in U.2 (2.5 inch) and HH-HL form factor based on 64-layer 3D NAND BiCS3 flash memory provide high data storage density , while differing by record low power consumption – no more than 10.75 watts under load (versus 25 watts for similar drives). Improved traffic prioritization algorithms made it possible to further reduce the delay in processing requests, providing a gain of up to 30%, which makes these models the best solution for working with business applications using interactive analytical data processing technologies.

Ultrastar DC SN 640

NVMe SSDs with capacities from 800 GB to 7.68 TB maximize the performance of your IT infrastructure. Ultrastar DC SN 640 are characterized by ultra-low latency and lower total cost of ownership compared to traditional SATA-based SSDs, which makes them optimally suitable for use in virtualization systems, CDN, AI / ML, OLTP and some others. Based on 96-layer 3D TLC NAND BiCS4 flash chips and NVMe 1.3 Western Digital’s proprietary controller, these SSDs are capable of delivering up to five times the performance over SSDs using the SATA interface. Support for end-to-end protection of data transmission channels and power failure protection technology helps minimize the risk of losing critical data.

You can find more detailed information on each of the listed products on the Western Digital official website in the “Storage for data centers

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