Western Digital Corporation (often abbreviated to WD) is a manufacturer of computer hard disk drives, and has a long history in the electronics industry as an integrated circuit maker and a storage products company. Western Digital was founded on April 23, 1970 as General Digital, initially (and briefly) a manufacturer of MOS semiconductor test equipment. It rapidly became a specialty semiconductor maker, with startup capital provided by several individual investors and industrial giant Emerson Electric Company. In July, 1971, they adopted their current name, had moved to Newport Beach, California, and soon after introduced their first product, the WD1402A UART. Western Digital is currently the second largest hard drive company, after Seagate Technology.
WDC introduced several landmark products during this time, including the MCP-1600 multi-chip, microcoded CPU (used, among other things, to implement DEC's LSI-11 system and their own Pascal MicroEngine microcomputer which ran the UCSD p-System Version III and UCSD Pascal), and a string of single-chip floppy disk drive controller chips, notably the WD1771.
In the mid-to-late 1980s, WDC also dabbled in graphics cards (through their Paradise subsidiary, purchased 1986), core logic chipsets (by purchasing Faraday Electronics Inc. in 1987), and networking (WD8003, WD8013 Ethernet and 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 moneymakers. In 1986, they introduced the WD33C93 single-chip SCSI interface, which was used in the first 16-bit bus mastering SCSI controller, 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.
By 1991, things were starting to slow down, as the PC industry moved from 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, Caviar drives were selling so well that WDC started to dispose of its other divisions. Paradise was sold to Philips (it has since disappeared), their networking and floppy drive controller divisions went to SMC Networks, and their SCSI chip business went to 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 didn't go far; the Portfolio drive (a 3-inch 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 products by other makers, and quality began to suffer; system builders and PC enthusiasts who used to recommend WDC above all else were going to the competition, particularly Maxtor, whose products had improved significantly by the late 1990s.
To attempt to turn the tide, in 1998, WDC recruited the help of IBM. This agreement gave WDC the rights to use certain IBM technologies, 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 much respect in the press and among users, even despite a recall in 2000 (which was due to bad motor driver chips). WDC has since broken ties to IBM.
The latest video cards from WD were a Pipeline 64 graphics media accelerator card (WD9710 Rocketchip) and Tasmania 3D PCI 3D video accelerator (based on the Yamaha YGV612 Rendering Polygon Accelerator). At 1996 Paradise Graphics subsidiary was sold to Philips Semiconductors, which reestablished the Paradise name.
WDC is also notable because it is the first manufacturer which, in 2001, offered mainstream ATA hard disk drives with 8 MB (8 MiB) of cache buffer. At that time most desktop hard disk drives (HDDs) had 2 MB of buffer. WDC labeled the 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 and soon models with capacities from 40 GB to 250 GB and more followed. WDC advertised the JB models as a good choice for cost-effective file servers.
In 2003, WD acquired most of the assets of bankrupt hard drive one-time market leading magnetic read-write head developer Read-Rite Corporation. In the same year, WDC 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 6 milliseconds. Soon, the 74 GB WD740GD, which is also much quieter, followed and in 2005 Western Digital released the 150 GB version, the WD1500. As of 2004 the "Raptor" drives have 5 years of 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 drive failure. In 2006, Western Digital introduced its MyBook line of mass market external hard drives that feature a compact book-like design. On the 7th October 2007 Western Digital released several editions of a single 1 TB hard drive - the largest in its MyBook line.
In 2007 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 time. 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.
in 2007 Western Digital announce the WD GP drive touting rotational speed "between 7200 and 5400 rpm" which is technically correct, the drive spins at 5405rpm, but the Green Power spin speed is not variable.
On April 21, 2008, Western Digital announced the next generation of its 10,000 RPM SATA Raptor series of hard drives. The new drives, called WD VelociRaptor, feature 300 GB capacity and 2.5-inch platters enclosed in the IcePack™, a 3.5-inch mounting frame with a built-in heat sink. Western Digital claims the new drives are 35 percent faster than the previous generation Raptors.
On September 12, 2008, Western Digital ships a 500gb 2.5 inch notebook hard drive which is part of their Scorpio Blue series of notebook hard drives.
High performance Raptor drives still come with a five year warranty.
As of version 11 it contains the following features:
Supply chain optimization at Western Digital: Western Digital, the world's second largest hard drive manufacturer, substantially increased customer satisfaction and reduced inventory by implementing a solution from ICON-SCM (Karlsruhe, Germany). Synchronizing supply and demand along the entire supply chain could reap additional benefits.(case study)(ICON-SCM)
May 01, 2009; To improve the planning process for its international supply chain and gain the ability to fulfil demand based on specific...