Western Digital has teamed up with memory maker Sandisk to develop what it calls the world’s thinnest SSHD – Solid State Harddrive. WD Black SSHD is a hybrid between a mechanical drive and SSD that measures only 5mm in profile, and promises the best of two worlds.

WD has announced that with the help from Sandisk it has built the next generation of hybrid harddrives where they have been able to combine a 500GB mechanical harddrive with 24GB dedicated NAND flash memory in a 2.5″ harddrive only 5mm thick. The new drive is called WD Black SSHD and according to WD it is the thinnest SSD hybrid on the market; reducing the volume nearly 50 percent compared to a traditional 9.5mm harddrive used in modern laptops.

WD has used a software based cache solution in WD Black SSHD similar to Intel’s Smart Response Technology. Contrary to the solutions presented by Seagate that allows the unit to handle the data handling on the disk level this solution is shallower, which has both pros and cons. WD uses an optimized version of the Sandisk iSSD firmware that is exclusive for WD, but system builders could use WD Black SSHD with an Intel firmware if they want since the connection is handled by the software.

“WD Black SSHDs use WD hybrid technology that blends responsive, intelligent flash memory technology from SanDisk with high capacity hard drives from WD. This powerful combination greatly improves the PC user experience, enabling both high capacity and a higher level of performance than traditional hard disk drives, including increased speed, instant-on and faster application launching.”

WD has decided to bake in two separate storage units into the same product. The harddrive has its own controller and the Sandisk iSSD has its own integrated controller. These are then connected inside the SSHD through a Serial ATA bridge and this means that the units can operate physically free from each other. The harddrive has 500GB capacity, while the iSSD unit comes with 8-24 GB memory. Just like Seagate’s Laptop Thin SSHD the majority of the flash memory is addressed as MLC memory, while a smaller portion is configured as SLC for better durability and write performance.

According to Techreport that has acquired some additional information on WD Black SSHD the unit uses a 5,400 RPM harddrive and the 24 GB NAND flash memory is made with 19 nanometer technology. The flash portion will be capable of 450 and 350 MB/s read/write.

You can count on more hybrid solutions for ultrabooks and similar this year as PC builders try to increase both capacities and everyday performance in more budget friendly models. As we have seen in our tests there are considerable advantages of using a hybrid drive instead of a regular mechanical drive, but at the same time a SSD is even faster, but it all comes down the budget.

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