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Western Digital Touts New 'Green' Drives 119

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the save-the-platters dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Western Digital today announced the availability of a new line of serial ATA drives that are supposed to use 4 to 5 watts less than other competitive drives from Hitachi GST, Fujitsu and Seagate. The new "GreenPower" line comes in 500GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities. Western Digital says it achieves better power performance by balancing the platter's spin speed in order to make it more efficient, by optimizing seek speeds and by parking the read heads when the disk is idle, according to a Computerworld story."
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Western Digital Touts New 'Green' Drives

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  • by niceone (992278) * on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:50AM (#21453055) Journal
    Interesting - WD don't tell you the rotational speed [wdc.com]! Must be the first drive that doesn't. In the rotational speed row it just says "IntelliPower" and below "A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance."
    I guess I'd need to see some independent benchmarking before I would believe that performance is not hurt. Also is the power saving dependent on the drive not being used flat out?
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday November 23, 2007 @07:58AM (#21453087) Journal
    It sounds like the drive alters its rotational speed based on the usage. This would be really nice in a laptop drive. For example, when watching a video or listening to music, it would take less power to spin the drive slowly than to spin it up to full speed and then spin it down. I'm not sure about datacenter use. It might be that it could spin slower during periods of low demand and at full speed at other times.

    Hard drive power management is hard to get right, since spinning the drive up uses a lot of power, but keeping it spinning fast also uses some. If you spin the drive down, and then use it again, you use more power than if you leave it spinning. If you leave it spinning and then don't use it then you're similarly wasting power. Being able to spin the drive up a little bit might be a nice compromise. So would adding a large non-volatile cache.

  • Solid State? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Friday November 23, 2007 @08:23AM (#21453205)
    How does this compare to solid state drives in terms of power efficiency?
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday November 23, 2007 @09:00AM (#21453407) Homepage
    For that sort of scenario, you'd use the least amount of power if you cached the entire movie (or as much as you could fit) into memory in one fell swoop. Spin up, read the entire file, and spin down.

    I seem to recall that one of the ways in which Apple tweaked the battery life of the iPod was to considerably increase the size of the RAM cache, and read as much of the playlist as possible into memory.
  • by Charles Dodgeson (248492) * <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Friday November 23, 2007 @10:22AM (#21454013) Homepage Journal

    My thoughts exactly. 5 watts is a joke and is just a cheap attempt to jump on the "green" bandwagon. Unfortunately there are clueless folks out their that don't know a 'watt' from a 'when' and they'll get suckered in by this marketing.
    I fully agree that if the manufacturing process for these consumes more energy, then there is nothing green about these (other than marketing hype).

    But, there are plenty of situations where a consumer might wisely pay extra for these drives even if there is no overall positive environmental impact:

    1. Laptops have already been mentioned.
    2. I like trying to build fanless boxes for noise reasons
    3. longer UPS running time for the unreliable grid power we have where I am
    4. Every watt I save on power draw for my equipment saves additional power on air conditioning for a substantial chunk of the year.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday November 23, 2007 @10:40AM (#21454123) Journal
    shoots, if they sell just a million of these, that is 5MW. That adds up. Besides, many groups go ga-ga over saving .5 watt on always-on devices since, so this will be construed to be even bigger.
  • What about heat? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sensible Clod (771142) <dc-7@charte[ ]et ['r.n' in gap]> on Friday November 23, 2007 @03:40PM (#21456617) Homepage
    Another important benefit for such an improvement would be for cool/quiet computing, which is high on my list of desired system attributes. To put it simply, it's like taking a 4 or 5 watt heater out of the machine (which should also make it last longer).

    I'm a little concerned about parking those heads all the time, however. Last thing I need is a cool-running drive with worn-out ramps...

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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