A strange thing happened in the G-Technology zone of Western Digital’s NAB booth this week. For the first time in a long time, the emphasis was not on capacity.
Think back over recent years. We’ve gone from four-bay G-SPEED Shuttles to eight-bay G-SPEED Shuttle XLs to 12-bay G-RACK network servers – with 12-bay expansion JBODs! Desktop solutions can offer nearly 100GB per tower, and to make accessing that mountain of data feasible, connections evolved up three generations of Thunderbolt technology.
The message was implicit in the look and specs: capacity came first. Faster interfaces were there to help. However, from the moment G-Technology Senior Product Marketing Manager Matthew Bennion (below, holding up drives) led off the announcements at NAB 2018, it was clear that things had changed. The conversation rarely mentioned capacity. Rather, speed defined the day, and reasons were all around the show hall.
Sure, all of the high-capacity hero products were present. There were Shuttle towers, G-RACKs, and Evolution Series drives in abundance. But the four new releases, the fresh flagships meant to lead this year’s NAB discussion, fit comfortably on a single pedestal hardly large enough for a coffee maker. And none of them contained hard drives.
Matt Bennion (above) whisked through the new hardware, from the tough G-DRIVE Mobile SSD (made so tiny thanks to its M.2 internal flash drive) to the compact, eight-bay G-SPEED Shuttle SSD, which easily fills all of Thunderbolt 3’s bandwidth (up to 2,800 MB/s).
RED showed off its EPIC-W 8K camera (above) – along with its staggering data load – and how its workflow could dovetail with G-Technology drives. Atomos headlined its support for Apple’s new ProRes RAWand ProRES RAW HQ, which enables 8K+ resolution and data rates of up to 140 megabytes per second. Well beyond HDR, the demands of 360-degree video and VR continue climb. Everywhere in the Convention Center stood evidence of content workflows desperate for faster media that wouldn’t choke productivity.
The roles have flipped in 2018. The trend is now about speed supported by capacity. Without question, drive capacities will continue to rise, as Western Digital demonstrated elsewhere in the exhibit. All of those massive video files need to reside somewhere; direct-attached and network-attached solutions remain front and center for such tasks. However, from creation to ingestion and into editing, creative workflow increasingly needs more performance than conventional approaches can muster. G-Technology heard this loud and clear from users, found new ways to apply advances in SSD technologies and interfaces, and answered the market persuasively.