Western Digital enters edge server space for remote and rugged conditions

edge compute
Edge servers are catching on, and Western Digital introduced two new devices that feature Nvidia GPUs and Intel CPUs. One unit is designed for military and rugged conditions. (Getty Images)

Western Digital on Tuesday announced two new Ultrastar Edge servers, including one for rugged military conditions, as it focuses on putting compute capabilities in the field or in locations such as factories or remote data centers far from centralized data centers.

The move to edge computing has been underway for years and equipment makers are taking advantage with new products. Western Digital has a 51-year history in electronics as an integrated circuit maker and storage products company and is perhaps best known in the consumer-facing world for its SanDisk products. In 2020, the San Jose-based company earned nearly $17 billion in revenues with nearly 64,000 employees, making it one of the largest in its segment.

Kurt Chan, vice president of data center platforms at Western Digital, said the new servers have grown out of more data creation at the edge and the ability to gain value from that data. Customers are also beginning to work at the edge.

“In the world of 5G and IoT, compute must happen at the edge closer to devices, end users and the machines that generate data,” said Omdia analyst Manoj Sukumaran. “We’re glad to see Western Digital enter the market as the industry needs reliable products from vendors they can trust.”  Omdia has predicted server deployments at edge locations will reach five million units through 2024, double where they are today.

Western Digital’s new edge servers are designed for cloud service providers, telcos and system integrators. One of the servers, the Ultrastar Edge server, features an Nvidia Tesla T4 GPU for AI tasks, along with eight Ultrastar NVMe SSDs with up to 61 TB of storage. Forty CPU cores are provided with two Intel Xeon Gold CPUs along with 512 GB of DDR4 memory. Networking is provided with dual 10GBase-T RJ-45and Mellanox ConnectX-5 100 Gbps Ethernet that can be used as two 50Gbps Ethernet.

western digital edge server carried
Western Digital Ultrastar (carried)

The other server, the Ulstrastar Edge-MR, features the same CPU, GPU and storage configuration. It is stackable and designed for extremely rugged conditions to guard against shock and vibration as well as water and electromagnetic interference. Both new servers come with tamper-evident enclosures.

Aeon Computing in San Diego is adding the Ultrastar Edge-MR to its compute offerings. “We can now deliver a secure, rugged solution that brings the power of the cloud to virtually any edge or tactical environment around the world,” said Jeff Johnson, co-founder, in a statement.

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