Source confirms Western Digital is closing WDLabs and canceling projects

microwave based hard drive could be a game changer wdlabs
Update: Added confirmation from an anonymous source.

A source requesting to remain anonymous confirmed with Digital Trends that Western Digital is shutting down WDLabs. According to an email received on Thursday, several members of the team were let go while others were permanently reassigned to different departments. Western Digital also canceled all related projects indefinitely.

The news arrives by way of former WDLabs employees who informed the anonymous contact that reached out to Digital Trends. The confirmation follows a recent statement by someone claiming to be a Western Digital employee on Reddit who indicated that WDLabs may close. He said the company supposedly fired the group working under the WDLabs branch and that Western Digital has no plans to manufacture new hard drives for the Raspberry Pi board. The comment was quickly removed after it appeared on Reddit, but not before Google grabbed a copy. Liliputing originally reported on this, and received additional confirmation from an unnamed source inside Western Digital.

At the time of writing, Western Digital has not provided any official statement about a potential closing. A quick look at the WDLabs web page showed that the site was still active and showcasing the WD PiDrive, the WD PiDrive Enclosure, and other related products. The dedicated community was also still up and running here.

“WDLabs is an internal team of innovators assembled to create exciting new products for emerging customers and markets,” the home page states. “We engage directly with lead users to get honest feedback, while exploring new trends and ideas. By leveraging our engineering talent, we’re embarking on new territory to stay ahead of the curve.”

Under the WD PiDrive umbrella, WD provides five products ranging from $19 to $110 in price. For example, the WD PiDrive Compute Centre is a complete do-it-yourself kit with a Raspberry Pi 3 board, a MicroSD card preloaded with custom software, a 375GB hard drive, a black square enclosure, a wireless mouse, a wireless keyboard, and several cables (no HDMI).

The Raspberry Pi 3 is the third-generation Raspberry Pi board sold for a mere $35. The latest “Model B” edition consists of a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of system memory, Wireless N and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, and a MicroSD card slot. It also includes four USB ports, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and other connections.

As shown here, the Raspberry Pi can be used to create all sorts of devices ranging from a portable computer for kids to a re-created Nintendo Entertainment System console. There are other boards produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to use as well, including the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 for even smaller computing devices.

Raspberry Pi devices are extremely popular, and talk that WDLabs may close should be chalked up as a mere rumor for now. However, the alleged WD employee said that customers were using the Raspberry Pi 3 and WD’s dedicated hard drive to run Bitcoin nodes, which require loads of storage. These nodes help broadcast messages across the bitcoin network, and validate transactions.

“Not sure if there will be an announcement, they might have enough inventory to last a while,” the individual said. “They aren’t going to make any more pi drives as far as I know, so if you’re interested in them I’d suggest you buy one now.”

Why WDLabs may close is unknown unless parent company Western Digital just isn’t making enough revenue off the dedicated products to keep the department running. And if what the alleged Western Digital worker claims is true, WDLabs may close without any fanfare whatsoever.

Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.

Nintendo 2DS XL vs. Nintendo 3DS XL: Which handheld reigns supreme?

The 3DS family of systems hasn't shown any signs of letting up in the age of the Nintendo Switch. With the New Nintendo 2DS XL in the picture, let's compare the newcomer to the New Nintendo 3DS XL.

These external drives have speed, durability, and storage space to spare

Whether you want an external storage drive that is fast, portable, or comes with a ton of storage, these are the best external hard drives available today. They all come with great features and competitive pricing.

Blockchain does way more than power Bitcoin. Here's how it works

What is a blockchain? It was once merely an academic idea and today it's the backbone of the cryptographic industry, helping to send billions of dollars worth of digital assets all over the world.

Take $250 off the HP Spectre x360 laptop with this Presidents’ Day sale

If you're hoping for something more powerful that will last more than a few months, you'll probably need to invest $1,000 or more. Unless, of course, you take advantage of the Presidents' Sale on the HP Spectre x360 13t.

Think crypto’s dead? JPMorgan to offer first cryptocurrency backed by a U.S. bank

J.P. Morgan Chase is making history by rolling out a trial, over the next few months, of the first cryptocurrency, dubbed JPM Coin, which is backed by a large United States bank.

Opera web browser targets enhanced accessibility with major redesign

The browser wars are heating up. In the latest move for Opera, a new development release pushes it even closer to Chrome with a redesign and overall goal of redefining the modern web browser. 

Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.

A new Mac Pro is supposedly coming in 2019, but what will it be like?

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the top news, leaks, and rumors about the new Mac Pro set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what's likely to show up with the new Mac Pro.

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.