Western Digital steps up game in the cloud data centre and edge computing markets

Company will start transitioning own consumption of processors – over one billion cores per year – to an open and scalable compute architecture.

Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) has vowed to up its position in the edge computing and cloud data centres revolution by laying down its plans to lead the industry transition toward open, purpose-built compute architectures.

The roadmap has been presented by Chief Technology Officer Martin Fink who said the company intends to do so in order to meet the increasingly diverse application needs of a data-centric world.

Fink expressed the company’s commitment to help lead the advancement of data-centric compute environments through the work of the RISC-V Foundation. RISC-V is an open and scalable compute architecture that will enable the diversity of Big Data and Fast Data applications and workloads proliferating in core cloud data centres and in remote and mobile systems at the edge.

By taking part, Western Digital aims to accelerate the advancement of the technology and the surrounding ecosystem by transitioning its own consumption of processors – over one billion cores per year – to RISC-V.

Fink said: “The open source movement has demonstrated to the world that innovation is maximized with a large community working toward a common goal.

“For that reason, we are providing all of our RISC-V logic work to the community. We also encourage open collaboration among all industry participants, including our customers and partners, to help amplify and accelerate our efforts.

“Together we can drive data-focused innovation and ensure that RISC-V becomes the next Linux success story.”


End of one size fits all

Western Digital’s move with RISC-V is also the company’s way of sowing the industry that the “general-purpose” technologies and architectures that have been in place for decades are reaching their limits of scalability, performance and efficiency.

“General-purpose workloads that are supported by general-purpose architectures typically have a uniform ratio of processing resources, such as operating system (OS) processing, specialty offload processing, memory, data storage, and interconnect,” the company explained in a statement.

It continued: “As Big Data gets bigger and faster, and Fast Data gets faster and bigger, the ‘one size fits all’ approach of general-purpose computing is failing to meet the increasingly diverse application workloads of our data-centric world.”

Scalability of data-centric compute architectures becomes then paramount to allow standard resource ratios of general purpose compute architectures and enable purpose-built solutions with data-optimised levels of OS processing, specialty processing, memory, storage and interconnect.

The extreme data and compute workloads for analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and smart systems demand purpose-built environments.

Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer, Western Digital, said: “Western Digital is a leader in storage products and technologies, and we are now expanding that leadership to open, data-centric compute architectures.

“RISC-V will allow the entire industry to realize the benefits of next-generation architectures while also enabling us to create more purpose-built devices, platforms and storage systems for Big Data and Fast Data applications. We are moving beyond just storing data to now creating entire environments that will enable users to realize the value and possibilities of their data.”