WD has revealed its Black2 dual drive, which is a fusion drive that contains both a solid state drive (SSD) and hard drive in the same package. It’s a design that’s come about due to extensive feedback from WD’s customers, who expressed a desire to have more control over the SSD portion of a hybrid drive, as well as a higher solid state capacity.
The new drive shuns one of the features of the hybrid drive that WD’s users found annoying, which is the fact that the small SSD portion of the drive is completely controlled by pre-set algorithms that optimise the drive’s performance depending on the user’s data access patterns. With the Black2 dual drive, the SSD, which is based on 20nm MLC technology, has a large 120GB capacity (this is much larger than the 8GB capacity of most hybrid drives), and it’s completely accessible by the user as its own partition.
Basically, the WD Black2 dual drive is like having both an SSD and a hard drive installed in the same system, but it will only take up one drive bay and SATA port. With a 2.5in form factor and a 9.5mm thickness, the drive is suitable as an upgrade for many laptops that only have one drive bay, as well as being a good option for all-in-one PCs, media centres and any other computers in which space is limited for multiple drives. The user can install the operating system and applications on the SSD partition so that the system will run quickly, and all data files can be stored on the larger, 1TB hard drive.
There is a caveat, though: in order to use the 1TB hard drive, a piece of software has to be installed to allow the system to see that full capacity. For the moment, only Windows systems are supported by that software, which means that Mac and Linux users won’t be able to take advantage of this drive. It’s compatible only with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 (and 8.1).
WD said that the software required to activate the 1TB hard drive doesn’t run in the background, and that it’s not needed in order to process any data coming to and from the drive. It said that there is no performance hit when it comes to accessing data off the hard drive, despite both the SSD and the hard drive running off the same SATA interface. The drive also isn’t capable of running in a RAID array, and it also won’t work on systems with NVIDIA and ASMedia storage controllers.
The WD Black2 Dual Drive costs $409 ($499 in New Zealand), has a five-year warranty for both the SSD and the hard drive parts, and it ships in a kit that includes Acronis True Image WD Edition software, a USB 3.0 to SATA cable, and a USB key that takes you to the specific download location for the drive’s installation software.
Related: WD Black2 dual drive unboxing