No sooner did the latest Raspberry Pi 3 come out (see “Going Hands-On with the Raspberry Pi 3” on electronicdesign.com) than Western Digital delivers a new hard-disk drive designed for the Raspberry Pi that uses a USB interface instead of the more conventional SATA interface. The new drive is called the WD PiDrive and it is available in kit form (Fig. 1) that includes cables and an enclosure. The latest version is a 314 Gbyte drive for $45.81, although it is available for a limited time for $31.42, a 31.4% discount. Western Digital already had a larger, 1 Tbyte version. The drive and cables are also available separately.
The four-headed cable that comes with the kit is designed to link the drive’s USB interface to the Raspberry Pi’s USB interface. The other two connections are designed for power. One plugs into the Raspberry Pi’s power USB port and the other is used to provide power to both the Raspberry Pi and the drive. This simplifies the overall system.
A closer look at the WD PiDrive interface (Fig. 2) shows a USB 3 connector. The Raspberry Pi 3 still runs USB 2, but this is compatible with USB 3 drives. It does mean that other processor modules with USB 3.0 support can take advantage of the faster interface.
The kit is designed for the Raspberry Pi by WDLabs. It supports the open-source BerryBoot loader. A developer can start up this special version of BerryBoot and select an OS from the BerryBoot menu. The special version of BerryBoot is a free download.
External USB hard drives are very common, but internal USBs are not. It is possible to create one using a USB/SATA adapter, but Western Digital has put this on the drive, eliminating cables and a board and reducing cost. It is also a more reliable solution. Raspberry Pi and module developers also have access to other flash-drive solutions, but hard drives still offer more capacity at a lower price point.
The combination of the 314 Gbyte WD PiDrive and a Raspberry Pi 3 is a compelling streaming media solution that can be customized. The Raspberry Pi’s camera interface would allow a developer to create a video-capture system.
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