Western Digital has started to ship its SanDisk Ultra 3D drives based on 3D TLC NAND memory. The drives, which were formally introduced nearly two months ago, are identical in terms of hardware to the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD, but come in different form-factors. As for pricing, Western Digital wants the SSDs to be affordable, which is why it sells the 1 TB models at below $300, in line with competiting drives from Crucial and Mushkin.

As reported, the SanDisk Ultra 3D as well as the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA are based on the Marvell 88SS1074 controller and use Western Digital’s 64-layer BiCS 3D NAND TLC memory. The drives take advantage of Marvell’s third-generation NANDeXtend LDPC-based ECC technology, but come with proprietary firmware developed in-house. The new products made in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB configurations, but in different form-factors: the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs come in 2.5"/7mm and M.2-2280 form-factors, whereas the SanDisk Ultra 3D SSDs are only available in 2.5"/7mm DFF packaging.

Western Digital rates its 3D TLC NAND-based drives for 1.75 million hours MTBF, which is higher than their drives featuring planar TLC memory, but a bit lower than the MTBF number offered by some competing drives. Meanwhile, the TBW ratings of the drives range from 100 TBW for the 250 GB models to 500 TBW for the 2TB models. Being a bit cautious with reliability/endurance ratings is normal because companies typically do not want elevated expectations when they deal with a new type of memory.

From performance point of view, the new SanDisk and WD-branded drives and offer up to 560 MB/s sequential read speed and up to 532 MB/s sequential write speed (when pseudo-SLC cache is used to boost write speed), which is comparable to other mainstream SATA SSDs. As for random reads and writes, we are looking at 95K IOPS and 84K IOPS, respectively, again, in line with what competing drives offer.

Specifications of WD Blue 3D NAND SATA and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSDs
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factors: WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs: 2.5" and M.2-2280
SanDisk Ultra 3D: 2.5"
Controller Marvell 88SS1074
NAND Flash 64-layer 3D TLC NAND
Sequential Read 550 MB/s 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 525 MB/s 530 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 95K
Random Write IOPS 81K 84K
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer unknown
Encryption unknown
Power Management Slumber, Device Sleep, etc.
Power Consumption Max Read Operating 2.2 W 2.05 W 2.55 W 3 W
Max Write Operating 2.25 W 3.35 W 3.75 W 3.8 W
Average Active Power 52 mW 60 mW
Warranty 3 years
MTBF 1,750,000 hours
TBW 100 TB 200 TB 400 TB 500 TB

Since all SATA-based drives offer more or less similar performance, pricing becomes one of the main features of SSDs with this interface. As expected, Western Digital charges $99 for the entry level SanDisk Ultra 3D model with 250 GB capacity. Meanwhile, the drives with 500 GB and 1 TB memory are available for $165 and $280 from Amazon. As for the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs, the company promises on its web site that they will be available in “late summer 2017”, presumably at similar price points.

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  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    I can't see this as an advantage over Mushkin's Reactor Armor3D SATA SSDs which are 3D MLC drives that don't suffer from endurance and performance penalties associated with TLC AND are cheaper than the MSRP for WD/SanDisk offerings. In fact, in general terms, TLC doesn't appear to really offer a cost advantage over MLC at the moment at least where SATA drives are concerned.
  • Lolimaster - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    Mushking MLC seems like a godlike dinosaur about rat sized mammals. A shame that industry force users to forget about MLC. With current tech we should have 256-512 SLC drives either sata or nvme.
  • Hairs_ - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - link

    Mushkin drives aren't as readily available, so in terms of the market, performance isn't terribly relevant if people can't buy the product.
  • Samus - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - link

    I think that's the key to mushkins success. If their drives were better known there wouldn't be enough MLC to meet demand.

    For people in the know, it's a no brainer to buy Mushkin drives. Half their lineup still uses MLC.

    And I've been saying what we all have noticed for years. TLC isn't bringing prices down. It's just padding margins if anything. Only in the tech sector could the industry collude to force users into an inferior technology at the same or higher (is the global nand shortage even real?) prices.
  • PixyMisa - Sunday, August 6, 2017 - link

    The mobile phone makers are buying up all the RAM and flash chips they can get their hands on. That's why prices stopped going down
  • Magichands8 - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    Oh joy! It's another small, over-priced SSD crippled with slow transfer speeds! I have to hand it to them though, at least they've got the form factor half-right and unlike many of their competitors these drives are only going for about two and half times what they're worth. I simply can't wait for the reviews so we get to measure how much worse WD's controller is than everything else on the market.
  • smilingcrow - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    It uses a Marvell controller as per the article.
  • Lolimaster - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    For sata slow transfers is not an issue since everything will reach 500MB+.

    You will only feel and need a 2GB+ drive if you move heavy data for high res video editing. That's basically the only usage for an HEDT user.
  • Lolimaster - Friday, August 4, 2017 - link

    I mean, most demanding to the drive.
  • Chaitanya - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - link

    overpriced? its cheaper than Samsung 850 Evo and seems to have better endurance rating(advertised) at all capacities.

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