WD announces SanDisk Pro-Blade modular SSD system aimed at content creators


posted Monday, May 9, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT


Update: We originally wrote that the Pro-Blade Station would ship next month. However, the Pro-Blade Station will begin shipping in late 2022. The SSD Mag and Transport products are expected to ship in June. 

At today's What's Next Western Digital Event, Western Digital announced new products under its SanDisk and SanDisk Professional brands, including the new Pro-Blade product. It's a modular solid-state drive (SSD) system built for content creators that allows users to hot-swap high-capacity storage magazines, or 'mags,' into a purpose-built enclosure.

The SanDisk Pro-Blade SSD Mag is basically an SSD in a cartridge form factor. It will be available in three capacities: 1TB ($180), 2TB ($290) and 4TB ($600). It uses a custom, although not proprietary, connector and can slot into either the Pro-Blade Transport, which has a single port, or the desktop-oriented Pro-Blade Station that holds up to four Pro-Blade Mags.

SanDisk Pro-Blade family. From left to right, Pro-Blade Station, Pro-Blade Transport and Pro-Blade SSD Mag

The Transport and Station utilize PCI Express 3.0 NVMe technology, allowing for sequential read and write speeds up to 3,000 MB/s and 2,600 MB/s, respectively. Further, the Mag is built to be sturdy and can withstand a 3-meter drop and 4,000 pounds of force. The Mag is guaranteed to survive insertion into the Pro-Blade Transport or Station more than 2,000 times. The Mag has an aluminum housing, which should help keep it cool when in use.

The Pro-Blade SSD comes in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities, ranging from $180 to $600

Imagine a scenario in which you have a lot of photos and videos, but you don't necessarily need to have access to them at any given time. You can put files from a specific period on one Mag, files from another time on another Mag, so and so forth. You can hot-swap them in a Pro-Blade Transport. Alternatively, you can use the Station with four Mags, which likely meets the needs of most photographers and many videographers. The new Pro-Blade system scales to your needs and workflow without sacrificing portability or performance.

The SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport holds a single Pro-Blade SSD Mag and uses USB-C (20Gbps)

While PCI Express 3.0 NVMe technology allows for breakneck speeds, it's worth noting that the Pro-Blade Transport promises only 2,000 MB/s read and write speeds over USB-C. Of course, that's still extremely fast. The Pro-Blade Transport ships with a 20 Gbps USB-C cable and can be purchased with a Mag at a discount. The Pro-Blade Station uses a Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) interface, allowing you to take full advantage of the potential speed of the Pro-Blade Mag. Like the Transport, the Station will be available with no storage or an SSD Mag included.

On the other hand, the SanDisk Pro-Blade Station holds four Mags and uses Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps), allowing for improved speed and performance. 

The SanDisk Pro-Blade system looks to be highly versatile and even the Station, which houses four Mags, has a small footprint that will take up little room on a desk. The Pro-Blade SSD Mag and Transport products will begin shipping in June. The Pro-Blade Transport housing is $70 when empty or can be paired with an SSD Mag in any of the three capacities for an additional $60. SanDisk hasn't announced pricing for the Pro-Blade Station desktop SSD enclosure, which should begin shipping in late 2022. 


Western Digital also announced improved speeds for its UHS-I SanDisk Extreme PRO line of SD and microSD cards. These cards use WD's proprietary SanDisk QuickFlow technology to reach up to 200MB/s, a record-breaking speed for UHS-I SD and microSD cards. WD also announced a new SanDisk Professional Pro-Reader SD and microSD device, which leverages the improved speed of the cards. The new products range from $20 (64GB) to $330 (1TB), and the new card reader will cost $50. The new cards and reader should be available from authorized retailers next month.