Western Digital Corporation (commonly referred to as Western Digital
and often abbreviated as WDC) is an American computer data storage
company and one of the largest computer hard disk drive manufacturers
in the world, along with its main competitor Seagate Technology.
Western Digital Corporation has a long history in the electronics
industry as an integrated circuit maker and a storage products
Western Digital was founded on April 23, 1970, by Alvin B.
Motorola employee, as General Digital, initially (and
briefly) a manufacturer of MOS test equipment. It rapidly became a
speciality semiconductor maker, with start-up capital provided by
several individual investors and industrial giant Emerson Electric.
Around July 1971, it adopted its current name and soon introduced its
first product, the WD1402A UART.
3.1 Hard drives
Parallel ATA hard disk drives
3.4 Consumer products
6 See also
8 External links
Initially financed with start-up capital provided by investors and
Emerson Electric Company, WDC made its money by selling calculator
chips through the early years of the 1970s, and by 1975 WDC was the
largest independent calculator chip maker in the world. The oil crisis
of the mid-1970s and the bankruptcy of its biggest calculator
customer, Bowmar Instrument, changed its fortunes, however, and in
Western Digital declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After this,
Emerson withdrew their support of the company, and WDC was on its own.
WDC introduced several landmark products during this time, including
MCP-1600 multi-chip, microcoded CPU. The
MCP-1600 was used to
implement DEC's LSI-11 system and their own Pascal MicroEngine
microcomputer which ran the UCSD p-System Version III and UCSD Pascal.
The processor was also used in several single-chip floppy disk drive
controller chips, notably the FD1771. However, the WD integrated
circuit that arguably drove Western's forward integration was the 1771
chip, the first disk drive formatter/controller, replacing boards of
TTL logic. Despite a price far higher than average CMOS chips of the
time, it was very successful and extremely profitable.
The FD1771 and its kin were WDC's first entry into the data storage
industry; by the early 1980s, they were making hard disk drive
controllers, and in 1983, they won the contract to provide
controllers for the PC/AT. That controller, the WD1003, became the
basis of the ATA interface (which WDC developed along with
Control Data Corporation's MPI division, now owned by Seagate
Technology), starting in 1986. Throughout most of the 1980s, the
family of controllers based on the WD1003 provided the bulk of WDC's
revenues and profits, and for a time generated enormous corporate
Western Digital Paradise VGA card, 8-bit ISA bus, circa 1989
Much of the mid-to-late 1980s saw an effort by WDC to use the profits
from their ATA storage controllers to become a general-purpose OEM
hardware supplier for the PC industry. As a result, WDC purchased a
number of hardware companies. These included graphics cards (through
its Paradise subsidiary, purchased 1986, which became Western Digital
Imaging), core logic chipsets (by purchasing Faraday Electronics Inc.
SCSI controller chips for disk and tape devices (by
purchasing ADSI in 1986), networking (WD8003, WD8013
WD8003S StarLAN). They did well (especially Paradise, which produced
one of the best VGA cards of the era), but storage-related chips and
disk controllers were their biggest money makers. In 1986, they
introduced the WD33C93 single-chip
SCSI interface, which was used in
the first 16-bit bus mastering
SCSI host adapter, the WD7000 "FASST";
in 1987 they introduced the WD37C65, a single-chip implementation of
the PC/AT's floppy disk controller circuitry, and the grandfather of
modern super I/O chips; in 1988 they introduced the WD42C22 "Vanilla",
the first single-chip ATA hard disk controller.
1988 also brought what would be the biggest change in WDC's history.
That year, WDC bought the hard drive production assets of PC hardware
maker Tandon; the first products of that union under WDC's own name
were the "Centaur" series of ATA and XT attachment drives.[citation
Western Digital Tidbit 60 (WDAH260) - 62.3 MB (2.5 inch drive mounted
in 3.5 inch adapter bracket)
Western Digital Caviar 80 MB (model number WDAC280-32), from a
series of HDDs for desktop PCs; it is a 3.5-inch HDD mounted onto a
5.25-inch adapter bracket.
By 1991, things were starting to slow down, as the PC industry moved
ST-506 and ESDI drives to ATA and SCSI, and thus were buying
fewer hard disk controller boards. That year saw the rise of WDC's
Caviar drives, brand new designs that used the latest in embedded
servo and computerized diagnostic systems.
Eventually, the successful sales of the Caviar drives resulted in WDC
starting to sell some of its divisions. Paradise was sold to Philips,
and since disappeared. Its networking and floppy drive controller
divisions went to SMC Networks and its
SCSI chip business went to
Future Domain, which was later bought out by market leader Adaptec.
Around 1995, the technological lead that the Caviar drives had enjoyed
was eclipsed by newer offerings from other companies, especially
Quantum Corp., and WDC fell into a slump.
Products and ideas of this time did not go far. The Portfolio drive (a
3-inch (76 mm) form factor model, developed with JT Storage) was
a flop, as was the SDX hard disk to
CD-ROM interface. WDC's drives
started to slip further behind competing products, and quality began
to suffer; system builders and PC enthusiasts who used to recommend WD
above all else, were going to the competition, particularly Maxtor,
whose products had improved significantly by the late 1990s.
In an attempt to turn the tide in 1998, WDC recruited the help of IBM.
This agreement gave WDC the rights to use certain
including giant magneto-resistive (GMR) heads and access to IBM
production facilities. The result was the Expert line of drives,
introduced in early 1999. The idea worked, and WDC regained respect in
the press and among users, even despite a recall in 2000 (which was
due to bad motor driver chips). WDC later broke ties to IBM.
Western Digital WD740GD 74 GB Raptor, a 10,000 rpm 3.5-inch
Western Digital became the first manufacturer to offer
mainstream ATA hard disk drives with 8 MiB of disk buffer. At
that time, most desktop hard disk drives had 2 MB of buffer. WDC
labeled these 8 MB models as "
Special Edition" and distinguished
them with the JB code (the 2 MB models had the BB code). The
first 8 MB cache drive was the 100 GB WD1000JB, followed by
other models starting with 40 GB capacity. WDC advertised the JB
models for cost-effective file servers. In October 2001, WD restated
its prior year results to reflect the adoption of SEC Staff Accounting
Bulletin No.101 and the reclassification of Connex and SANavigator
results as discontinued operations.
In 2003, WD acquired most of the assets of bankrupt one-time market
leading magnetic hard drive read-write head developer Read-Rite
Corporation. In the same year, WD offered the first 10,000 rpm
Serial ATA HDD, the WD360GD "Raptor", with a capacity of 36 GB
and an average access time of less than six milliseconds. Soon, the
74 GB WD740GD followed, which was also much quieter. In 2004,
Western Digital redesigned its logo for the first time since 1997,
with the design of new logo focusing on the company's initials
("WD"). In 2005,
Western Digital released the 150 GB version,
the WD1500, which was also available in a special version with a
transparent window enabling the user to see the drive's heads move
over the platters while the drive read and wrote data. As of
WD Raptor drives have a five-year warranty, making
them a more attractive choice for inexpensive storage servers, where a
large number of drives in constant use increases the likelihood of a
Western Digital introduced its My Book line of mass market
external hard drives that feature a compact book-like design. On
October 7, 2007,
Western Digital released several editions of a single
1 TB hard drive, the largest in its My Book line.
Western Digital acquired magnetic media maker Komag. Also in
the same year,
Western Digital adopted perpendicular recording
technology in its line of notebook and desktop drives. This allowed it
to produce notebook and desktop drives in the largest classes of the
Western Digital also started to produce the energy efficient GP
(Green Power) range of drives notable for their very low power
consumption and heat dissipation but surprisingly good performance.
Western Digital announced the WD GP drive touting rotational
speed "between 7200 and 5400 rpm", which, if potentially
misleading, is technically correct; the drive spins at 5405 rpm,
and the Green Power spin speed is not variable. WD GP drives are
programmed to unload the heads whenever idle for a very short period
of time. Many Linux installations write to the file system a few
times a minute in the background. As a result, there may be 100 or
more load cycles per hour, and the 300,000 load cycles rating of a WD
GP drive may be exceeded in less than a year.
Two third-generation 1 TB VelociRaptors in IcePack mounting
On April 21, 2008,
Western Digital announced the next generation of
its 10,000 rpm SATA
WD Raptor series of hard drives. The new
drives, called WD VelociRaptor, featured 300 GB capacity and
2.5-inch (64 mm) platters enclosed in the IcePack, a 3.5-inch
(89 mm) mounting frame with a built-in heat sink. Western Digital
said that the new drives are 35 percent faster than the previous
generation. On September 12, 2008,
Western Digital shipped a
500 GB 2.5-inch (64 mm) notebook hard drive which is part of
their Scorpio Blue series of notebook hard drives.
On January 27, 2009,
Western Digital shipped the first 2 TB
internal hard disk drive. On March 30, 2009, WDC entered the
solid-state drive market with the acquisition of Siliconsystems, Inc.
On July 27, 2009,
Western Digital announced the first 1 TB mobile
hard disk drive, which shipped as both a Passport series portable USB
drive as well as a Scorpio Blue series notebook drive.
In April 2010,
Western Digital acquired the magnetic glass media
sputtering operations of HOYA Corporation and HOYA Magnetics Singapore
Pte. Ltd (HOMS). While
Western Digital had previously acquired other
magnetic glass media sputtering operations, the purchase of HOMS gave
Western Digital an edge in its striving to produce high-end hard disk
drives using magnetic glass media. By 2010, there were three surviving
independent HDD glass media manufacturing plants, namely Showa Denko,
Fuji Electric and HOYA Magnetics.
In October 2010,
Western Digital announced the first 3 TB
internal hard disk drive.
In March 2011,
Western Digital agreed to acquire the storage unit of
Hitachi, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, for about $4.3 billion
of which $3.5 billion was paid in cash and the rest with 25 million
shares of Western Digital. On October 21, 2011, Western Digital's
Thailand plant suspended operation in relation to the 2011 Thailand
floods. This caused a shortage of hard drives supplied by Western
Digital. PC manufacturers noted of the issue with Apple CEO, Tim Cook
stating that he was expecting an "overall industry shortage of disk
Dell spokesperson also stated they were "working with our
hard drive suppliers to address potential impact for the remainder of
the year." Despite this, Western Digital's profits increased
following the increase of HDD prices.
Western Digital "Red" 4 TB, a NAS-optimized 3.5-inch SATA HDD
In March 2012,
Western Digital completed the acquisition of Hitachi
Global Storage Technologies and became the largest traditional hard
drive manufacturer in the world. To address the requirements of
regulatory agencies, in May 2012 WDC divested assets to manufacture
and sell 3.5-inch hard drives for the desktop and consumer electronics
markets to Toshiba. In July 2012,
Western Digital announced a
"Red" series of drives, designed for network-attached storage (NAS)
devices. This series of drives has a special firmware designed for
Home/Small Business environments, has better reliability than standard
desktop drives, is more energy efficient and comes with a 3-year
warranty. In November 2012,
Western Digital announced a 4 TB
internal hard disk drive, a 3.5-inch, 7200 rpm drive belonging to
the "Black" series.
On January 27, 2013, Timothy Martin Leyden announced WD would invest
US $200 million to expand in Thailand. Operations resumed in Thailand
after it recovered from damage during the 2011 floods. In November
Western Digital (through its
HGST subsidiary) showed off new
helium-filled 6 TB Ultrastar He6 hard disk drives. When compared
to regular air-filled HDDs, they claim 49% of reduction in power usage
per terabyte of storage.
In February 2014,
Western Digital announced a new "Purple" line of
hard disk drives for use in video surveillance systems, with
capacities from 1 to 4 TB. They feature internal optimizations
for applications that involve near-constant disk writing, and
"AllFrame" technology which is designed to reduce write errors.
This line was later expanded to include 5 and 6 TB models. In
September 2014, Western Digital's
HGST division introduced new
helium-filled 6 TB, 8 TB and 10 TB HDDs, out of which
the 10 TB variant also utilizes shingled magnetic recording
(SMR). In December 2014,
Western Digital acquired Skyera, a
flash-based storage development company, integrating the newly
acquired company into its
A red redesigned My Passport Ultra Drive with a storage of 2TB
In May 2015,
Western Digital redesigned the My Passport Ultra series
of portable hard disk drives, adding a 3 TB storage option.
Later in 2015, WDC also launched the WD Blue series of solid-state
hybrid drives, with a 4 TB desktop drive (WD40E31X) and a
1 TB laptop drive (WD10J31X) as the first in the series. In
August 2015, WDC added higher-capacity (2–6 TB) 5400 rpm
models to its Blue hard disk drives series, as well
as 5 TB and 6 TB models to its Black and Red
Pro hard disk drive series.
In May 2016,
Western Digital acquired
SanDisk for US$19
In April 2017
Western Digital moves its headquarters from Irvine,
California to San Jose, California.
In September 2017,
Western Digital acquired Tegile Systems, maker of
flash memory storage arrays.
North America: Canada,
United States (Irvine, California; Mountain
View, California; San Jose, California; Fremont, California; Longmont,
Colorado; Belleair, Florida; Pasadena, Maryland; Reading,
Massachusetts; Bellevue, Washington; Cleveland, Ohio; North Sioux
City, South Dakota; Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; Salt
Lake City, Utah)
Europe: Czech Republic (Prague), France (Issy les Moulineaux), Germany
(Dornach bei München), United Kingdom (Leatherhead), Netherlands
Asia: India (Bangalore); China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen); Hong
Kong; Taiwan (Taipei); Japan (Tokyo); South Korea (Seoul); Malaysia
(Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sarawak); Singapore; Thailand (Ayuthaya,
Pathumthani); United Arab Emirates (Dubai)
Western Digital hard drives feature product names based on colors;
these colors signify the characteristics of the drive:
Green drives were energy efficient, with slightly slower performance;
they have been discontinued.
Blue drives are average performance.
Black drives are high performance.
Red drives are designed for NAS use.
Purple drives are designed for surveillance data storage.
Gold drives are designed for "datacenter" use.
Western Digital (WD) distributes the following utilities for use with
its hard drives.[clarification needed]
Data Lifeguard Tools is a software utility suite for basic setup of
hard disks, developed under contract by Kroll Ontrack Inc (who also
provides similar suites for other drive manufacturers). It runs on
Microsoft Windows and
DOS operating systems. It is free to download
and use, however doesn't support modern WD drives – an
installed drive will be ignored. As of September 30, 2009,
Edition replaced Data Lifeguard Tools.
As of version 11 it contains the following features:
displaying built-on-demand installation manuals (with jumper settings)
Western Digital hard drives,
partitioning and formatting hard disks,
copying files between disk partitions,
displaying numbers, size and type of partitions,
displaying basic technical disk information, such as firmware
revision, S.M.A.R.T Support (Enabled/Disabled), ATA # supported, R/W
Multiple, PIO Mode Support, IORDY Support (Yes/No), Sectors/Block, PIO
Data Lifeguard Diagnostics is a software utility used primarily for
determining the physical condition - but only of older models of
Western Digital hard drive. It includes features such as:
Quick and extended test
Write zeros to drive
View and print test results
Enter and print return merchandise authorization (RMA) information
Western Digital also ships WD Smartware with many of its drives for
use as backup drives, with an exception for its Touro Mobile hard
drives, which is a HDD brand from its
HGST division. Additionally,
this software does not detect any HGST-produced hard drives, in
contrast with the automatic detection of Western Digital's My Passport
or My Passport Ultra hard drives once the user plugs it in a computer
where WD Smartware is installed. This software regularly backs up all
Documents, Pictures, Movies, Emails, and more on the drive, and
continually checks for changes to drive locations. The software
appears to detect particular hard drives' brand and differs Western
Digital hard drives from another hard drives, a similar way to
Seagate's SeaTools software.
However, as of June 2013, one can no longer use a boot disc to test a
modern WD drive independently of an operating system. In the
explanatory note on its support site,
Western Digital omits to
elaborate on why it forces users to use Windows to test its drives,
alluding to an
OS X issue: "Due to limitations in Mac OS X, you will
need to connect your drive to a PC running Windows in order to run our
Parallel ATA hard disk drives
WD was the last manufacturer of parallel ATA hard disk drives for
laptops (2.5-inch form factor) and desktop PCs (3.5-inch form factor),
by producing them until December 2013.
Western Digital sells consumer storage products under the WD brand,
with product families called My Passport, My Book and My Cloud.
Western Digital Media Center
Western Digital announced products in the over the top set top box
market to compete with the Apple TV, Roku, and Google TV.[citation
Western Digital also manufactures networking products. For their
wireless router: My Net 600, My Net 750, My Net 900, and My Net 900
Central. For the remaining: My Net AC Bridge, My Net Switch, and My
Net Wi-Fi Range Extender.
See also: Binary prefix § Legal disputes
Lawsuits have been filed against various manufacturers including
Western Digital, related to the claimed capacity of their drives.
The drives are labelled using the convention of 10^3 (1000) bytes to
the kilobyte, resulting in a perceived capacity shortfall when
reported by most operating systems, which tend to use 2^10 (1024)
bytes to the kilobyte.
Western Digital maintained that they used "the indisputably
correct industry standard for measuring and describing storage
capacity", and that they "cannot be expected to reform the software
industry", they agreed to settle in March 2006, with a $30 refund
to affected customers in the form of backup and recovery software of
the same value. A disclaimer is now included with all drives
explaining the capacity figures.
Western Digital hard drives have been reported to have
severe faults and to be easy to decrypt.
Los Angeles portal
Western Digital Raptor
Western Digital My Book
Western Digital My Passport
^ a b c d e f "
Western Digital Technologies 2017 Annual Report (Form
10-K)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. July 2017. Retrieved
1 April 2018.
^ Disk Drive Industry Update: Volume 76, Needham Company, June 14,
^ Smith, William D. (February 11, 1975). "Bowmar Will Ask
Reorganization". The New York Times. p. 55.
^ Michalopoulos, Demetrios A (October 1976). "New Products:
Single-chip floppy disk formatter/controller". Computer. IEEE. 9 (10):
64. doi:10.1109/C-M.1976.218414. "The FD1771 is a single-chip
floppy disk formatter/controller that interfaces with most available
disk drives and virtually all types of computers."
Western Digital Reports $4 Million Profit in HDD Business on
Revenue of $441 Million, Unit Shipments of 5.4 Million". October 25,
2001. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
Western Digital Launches New Logo with Universal Appeal". October
6, 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
Western Digital - Biomedical Innovation with Colin Stewart -
OCRegister.com". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
^ "GreenPower Hard Drives". Retrieved May 15, 2017.
^ "WD Green Mobile Series Spec Sheet" (PDF). WDC. June 26, 2013.
Retrieved January 21, 2013.
^ "hdparm(8) - Linux manual page". man7.org. November 2012. Retrieved
March 31, 2014. Get/set the
Western Digital (WD) Green Drive's "idle3"
timeout value. This timeout controls how often the drive parks its
heads and enters a low power consumption state. The factory default is
eight (8) seconds, which is a very poor choice for use with Linux.
Leaving it at the default will result in hundreds of thousands of head
load/unload cycles in a very short period of time.
^ "discussion list". Arch Linux. If linux tends to write to /var/log/*
every 30s, then the heads can park/unpark every 30s.
^ WD Green Spec Sheet (PDF), WD
Western Digital launches 2TB hard drive". ZDNet. January 27, 2009.
Retrieved January 27, 2009.
^ "WD ships industry's first 1 TB mobile hard drive". WDC. July 27,
2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
^ "WD's New 3TB Drive Packs More Storage Than 32-Bit Can Handle".
WIRED. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
^ Hitachi Rises on $4.3 Billion Sale of Hard-Drive Unit to Western
Digital. Bloomberg. Retrieved on July 17, 2013.
^ Bohn, Dieter. "Hard drive shortages and higher prices coming after
massive flooding in Thailand". This is My Next. Retrieved October 24,
^ Latif, Lawrence (Jul 26, 2012). "
Western Digital posts three-fold
increase in profits despite floods". The Inquirer. Retrieved October
^ "Press Release". wdc.com. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
^ "February 28, 2012-WD Reaches Agreement with
Toshiba Corporation to
Divest Certain 3.5-Inch HDD Assets". Retrieved December 22,
^ "May 15, 2012-WD® Completes Divestiture of Assets to Toshiba
Corporation". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
^ "WD Red". wdc.com. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
Western Digital expands Thai operations". Investvine.com. February
4, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
^ Shankland, Stephen (March 25, 2014). "
Western Digital enlists helium
for 6TB energy-efficient drives". CNET. Retrieved April 27,
^ "WD releases 6TB Ultrastar He6: The world's first helium-filled hard
drive". ExtremeTech. November 4, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
^ "WD says its new Purple hard drives are optimized for 24/7 video
surveillance". PC World. IDG. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
Surveillance Hard Drives WD Purple - Specifications". Retrieved
June 1, 2015.
HGST introduces new 6TB, 8TB and 10TB hard disk drives".
Retrieved September 10, 2014.
^ "December 15, 2014-
HGST to Acquire Skyera, Inc". Retrieved December
^ "May 27, 2015-WD Redesigns World's No. 1 Selling Portable Hard
^ "WD Blue SSHD - PC SSHD".
^ "WD Expands Its Performance Level Desktop Hard Drives to 6 TB
Capacity". August 18, 2015. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
Western Digital to acquire
SanDisk for $19B". USA Today. Gannett
Company. October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
Western Digital officially closes
SanDisk acquisition". The Verge.
Vox Media. May 12, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
^ "Amid job cuts,
Western Digital moves HQ to San Jose". Silicon
Valley Business Journal. American City Business Journals. April 25,
2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
^ Gagliordi, Natalie (August 29, 2017). "
Western Digital buys flash
storage company Tegile Systems". ZDNet. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
Western Digital just announced that it plans to buy flash storage
vendor Tegile Systems. [...] The Tegile acquisition is expected to
close next week.
^ "Understanding The Differences Between WD HDD Colors". April 10,
^ "Western Digital's colour coding – Red, Blue, Green or
Western Digital Knowledge Base Answer 1202". wdc.custhelp.com.
Retrieved November 27, 2011.
^ "Data Lifeguard Tools for Windows Version 11.2". support.wdc.com.
Retrieved November 6, 2008.
^ "Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for
DOS (CD) Version 5.04f".
support.wdc.com. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
^ "wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/940/p/85,8/". Retrieved
May 15, 2017.
Western Digital to Stop Shipping PATA Hard Drives". TechPowerUp.
Retrieved December 22, 2014.
Western Digital Settles Capacity Suit, betanews.com
^ a b
Western Digital settles drive size lawsuit, arstechnica.com
^ NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION AND PROPOSED SETTLEMENT (“NOTICE”),
^ "Some Popular 'Self Encrypting' Hard Drives Have Really Bad
Encryption". Motherboard. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
"25 Years of Innovation: The History of Western Digital" (PDF).
Western Digital. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 10,
Great Microprocessors of the Past and Present by John Bayko
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Western Digital.
Business data for Western Digital: Google Finance
Companies of the
21st Century Fox
American Airlines Group
Automatic Data Processing
Cadence Design Systems
J. B. Hunt
J. B. Hunt Transport Services
Maxim Integrated Products
O'Reilly Auto Parts
Sirius XM Holdings
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Hard disk drive
Hard disk drive manufacturers
History of hard disk drives
Computer Memories Inc.
Control Data Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
Storage Technology Corporation
Major information storage companies
Companies with an annual revenue of over US$3 billion
Dell Technologies (
Hitachi Data Systems
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Western Digital (SanDisk)
Largest IT companies