Western Digital has announced the latest in its line of SSD drives to carry the WD branding, as well as new lines from SanDisk.
The new WD Blue line also represents the first products to be built on 64-layer 3D NAND technology and is aimed at "DIY enthusiasts, resellers and system builders".
The SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD range is aimed at "gamers and creative enthusiasts" positioning SanDisk as the premium SSD brand, answering any questions about the future direction after the company was bought by Western Digital in 2015. Except, hold that thought. Because it actually doesn't.
"Delivering 64-layer 3D NAND-based SSDs into the PC segment marks a critical step in our ongoing conversion to this new technology, as well as offering long-term benefits for our customers," said Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer, Western Digital.
"Between our two, strong brands in SanDisk and WD, and their respective loyal customer bases and distribution channels, these advanced SSDs will appeal to a very broad footprint of the computing population that are seeking the benefits of today's newest technologies."
Both lines offer from 250GB up to 2TB capacities in a 7mm, 2.5 inch format, with the WD version also available as an M.2 2280 chip.
This is where the confusion begins, as both offer similar specs - 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write, three-year warranty and 1.75m hours MTBF. In other words - what exactly is the difference?
Well, the WD Blue comes with the backing of the WD Functional Integrity Testing Lab and comes with free Acronis True Image (WD Edition - so stunted from the paid-for version) and WD SSD Dashboard software for easy monitoring and firmware updates.
The SanDisk version is being pushed as an upgrade path for laptops, but doesn't claim much that we wouldn't see otherwise: cooler, quieter computing, enhanced endurance and reliability, no-wait boot up and quicker data transfer.
So we're pretty lost.
These products are pretty much identical in every way. Perhaps WD knows better than to let a good brand like SanDisk go - for now at least - and will essentially let the two brands compete against each other until they can comfortably retire the SanDisk moniker, or move it to portable drives.
Either way, and this is just speculation, but the future of the post-SanDisk-integration market for WD is weird.
We are also still waiting to see what happens to Toshiba, which is currently teetering on the brink, and co-owner of an SSD fabrication plant with Western Digital (originally SanDisk). That could be a game changer too, especially if Western Digital can arm-wrestle the other 50 per cent stake in the plant from Toshiba at a discount price.
Prices for all products start at $99.99 when then range goes on sale in the third quarter of 2017, which will be about the same in pound sterling when VAT is taken into account.
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