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Western Digital Touts New 'Green' Drives

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the save-the-platters dept.

Data Storage 119

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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119 comments

No rotational speed spec. (4, Interesting)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453055)

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?

Re:No rotational speed spec. (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453087)

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.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (2, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453407)

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.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453709)

That would, of course, give you better battery life. Even better would be to cache the entire contents of the disk and never spin it up...

In the real world, even if you have enough RAM to cache the movie, other things also want to use some of it. The demands for streaming it from the disk are quite low; around 1-2MB/s, while my laptop's disk can do between 10-30MB/s in sustained transfers. Dropping the speed from 5400RPM to 540RPM would allow this demand to be met without swapping anything out and causing additional disk usage (expensive ones, since they require a lot of seeks) to swap it in again later.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

zergl (841491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454945)

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.
RAM needs quite some power to operate as well (at least as long as we're stuck with DRAM, with all that annoying refreshing going on, until we get decent NVRAM as replacement), so I'd say caching the whole Movie (MP3 collection, or whatever you're working at/with) to a relatively large solid state drive while keeping the System's RAM relatively small (I'd say <= 1GB, but YMMV) would be the most sensible solution to save power in that context.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21456307)

Unfortunately the hard drive has no way of knowing how much data a program is actually going to read from a particular file, so this is not something the hard drive firmware can handle.

It would be an issue for the software developers to determine the benefits of caching a huge file into RAM, and from their point of view there is little point in doing that for data you're just going to read linearly.
=Smidge=

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21456805)

an OS is quite capable of performing read-ahead.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21459109)

Again, that doesn't help the hard drive manufacturer, and the OS does not know how much data other applications may want to read at any given time. Only the application author can know that... maybe.

=Smidge=

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453505)

An interesting idea, but they better implement it correctly: keep reading while changing the speed. With high-speed CD drives I always get the impression they only start reading after the drive has arrived at top speed, which means that for small files a 40x drive ends up being slower than a 4x drive.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21457439)

Hitachi has already implemented the "incorrect" version for a number of years now:

From their Feature Tool User's Guide PDF [hitachigst.com]:

APM is a technology that adaptively adjusts the power saving feature of New Hitachi and Legacy IBM hard disk drives to suit your working style. Power is saved by idling the actuator arm, additional power is saved by unloading the actuator arm and heads from the disk to the off-ramp. The technology actively adjusts the trade-off between disk delay and power consumption. This program allows you to change the aggressiveness of the power saving.

I have a few old (2005) Hitachi Deskstars and I tried out this utility. What happens is when the disk determines it has been idle, the disk will (on it's own, no BIOS or OS intervention) lock the head and spin down the disk but not stop the disk completely. You can actually hear the head lock itself with a "click" sound and the drive noise lowers since the disk doesn't rotate as quickly. When you start reading from the disk again, it spins up quickly and reads/writes in about a second or two. When measuring total system power, when the disk went into a low power state, the system power went down 3 to 5 watts.

I don't know enough about hard drives to know why they don't have variable read speeds and why the head needs to be moved off of the platter when the disk spins down

Re:No rotational speed spec. (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454111)

Can't we just go straight to the solid-state memory and stop worrying about "spinning disks"? I mean, think about it: very soon, we're going to laugh about the fact that we used to use these boxes with spinning platters inside to save all of our data.

Personally, I'm not going to be making any further large investment in any storage media that has moving parts. I'll replace drives as they die in my little RAID box, but that's it for me.

I look down at the little 8gig Sansa mp3 player hanging around my neck when I ride my bike and I think: this little thing is pumping wattage into my cottage, rocking my head at serious volume and it runs for 20 hours on a one-hour charge, and I can fit the Herbert von Karajan recording of Wagner's Parsifal like 20 times over and still have room for a few movies, and there's scars all over the case from having bounced it off the pavement countless times, but it works like a charm. This has to be the future.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

d'fim (132296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455303)

I can't recall if it was one of Peter Norton's books, or in the preface to PC Magazine's _DOS_Power_Tools_, but back in the heyday of DOS 3.3 the observation was made that an HDD is an aluminum platter coated with iron oxide; and the author then asked "would you trust your data to a rusty pie plate?"

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455745)

Unless there's some incredible breakthrough coming soon, at prices that can at least match the old spinning disks technology, we're not about to replace TeraByte drives which are needed to store DVD and CD rips.

So yes, solid-state storage is the future, but not until it can match the capacity/price for massive amounts of storage. It's got the low-capacity (i.e. let's say 8GB for now) covered, but the high-capacity (let's say over 40GB) is still the domain of spinning disks.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21456475)

There's a post like yours in every /. thread about flash or hard drives.

Yes, having flash for bulk storage would be nice. It'd also be nice to have main memory run at the same clock speed as our CPU instead of having this complicated caching system. But we do caching and use spinning discs because they're cheaper, and as long as both flash and spinning discs improve at the same rate (roughing Moore's Law) and our demand for space keeps increasing, we're going to keep on using spinning discs for bulk storage.

In the short term, flash gets wedged into the memory hierarchy in between RAM and hard drives. The most frequently used program code and some mostly-read-only data gets moved onto flash. But you're not going to see the really big things stored in flash - like, say, archives of high def movies - stored in flash as long as flash costs 50x as much per byte as the spinning magnetic platters (or, if you prefer, 5x as much as the spinning optical plastic).

Or to reword it: in ten years, the 512 GB flash drives will be $100, but the 20 TB hard drive will also be $100, so we'll still have both.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454765)

It sounds like the drive alters its rotational speed based on the usage.
That's exactly what WD's marketing department wants you to think, and the previous text on their website implied that even more strongly than what's currently there. They now concede that the rotational speed only varies *between models* in the "Green Power" line, and multiple tests (including my own) have shown that the rotational speed of the 1TB model is at or very near to 5400 rpm.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454887)

I own one of these disks and I got the impression from WD that they run each disk at a constant speed based on the optimal speed for that individual drive because the motor would be more complicated to run at a variable rate - although I'm not a mechanical engineer, so bury me in salt before listening to that :-). What I do know is that it runs 10C cooler and significantly quieter than the other drives (Seagate) in my Mac Pro. The motors on the WD GP are definitely a lot quieter, especially when spinning up (the pitch of the sound is much lower).

Re:No rotational speed spec. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21456485)

I'm sure someone will test the drive's data speed and confirm Western Digital's specs., which seem to be as fast if not faster than other drives.

Regarding spin-up and spin-down power: doesn't/shouldn't someone do like the "hybrid" cars- extract the rotational energy during spin-down and store it in a capacitor or lithium (kaboom!) battery? This would have the additional benefit of being able to spin-up more quickly- power surge comes from local capacitor/battery, not main power source. Just a thought. Did I just give away, I mean open-source a patent idea?

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453113)

According to some (probably marketing) sources, the rotational speed varies between 5400 and 7200 RPM. I've only seen this 2nd handed by now, trying to locate the original source; will get back if I do.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (4, Informative)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453225)

I can't seem to find anything coming from WD mentioning RPM, so the data from some online stores near ("IntelliPower at 5400-7200 RPM) me isn't quite verifiable. According to independent reviews, the drives seem to clock in somewhere between those values, so those might be the theoretical upper and lower limits, respectively.

Assuming the [Green Power] also shares such a seek time, that leaves us with 15 ms [measured access time] minus 9.5 ms [assumed seek time] which equals 5.5 ms, almost exactly the rotational latency associated with a 5400 RPM spindle speed.
(from storagereview.com [storagereview.com])

[I]t's easy to convert [WD's values for average rotational latency] to revolutions per minute, or RPM. 5.6 milliseconds of rotational latency works out to about 5,400 RPM, which just happens to be the low end of the GreenPower's spindle speed range. Western Digital says that's by design; the latency spec it lists in the GreenPower's data sheets is merely an estimate based on the spindle speed range of the drive.
(from techreport.com [techreport.com])

Aside from those missing values, the drive's power consumption (4W idle, 7.5W read/write) seem pretty nice compared to the rest of the market.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (0, Offtopic)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453461)

Drop down lists are hard before coffee, is there any other way to undo a bad moderation with the new system?

Re:No rotational speed spec. (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454663)

Drop down lists are hard before coffee, is there any other way to undo a bad moderation with the new system?

Don't moderate before coffee. In fact, don't do ANYTHING before coffee.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21455553)

Apparently you found it. (posting in the same topic you have modded in kills the mod(s))

Re:No rotational speed spec. (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454283)

TFA says it *might* say you "up to $10/year" on electricity.

In other words, YMMV, etc.

So lets look at REAL figures.

I'll save 4 watts per drive on my 4-drive home box. 16*24*365/1000 = 140 kw/hours.

@ 7 cents/kwh, I'll save a grand total $9.80 for 4 drives, or less than $2.50/drive.

That's if I run it 24 hours/day.

Most likely consumer-use scenario is less than a buck a year. I'll leave my drives spun up at full speed all the time, thank you. Easier to save a LOT more money just by turning off the lights and monitor when I leave for the office.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454739)

If you're just looking at energy/money savings, it will, of course, seem pretty pointless. Before WD's "Green" drives hard drives didn't use up much, after they don't use much less (because they didn't use up much in the first place).
On the other hand, if those drives actually save an average of 5W when compared to the competition, I find that a pretty damn impressive feat. Put into perspective (4W idle, 7.5W seek; assuming about 30% of total running time spent is seek/read/write), that's like Ford's newest model suddenly getting 80 instead of 40 MPG or the new Dell XPS running at 100 instead of 200 W.

I don't know if anything WD's telling is in any way related to reality or if that 4/5W figures are pure droppings of male cows, all I'm saying is if this is true, it's a nice step ahead.

What about heat? (2, Interesting)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21456617)

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...

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453143)

I tried one of these. Performance on large files is about the same as the seagate barracuda 750GB. Performance on small files, or when there's a lot of seeking to be done, or under heavy load (which requires seeking) is noticeably slower. Maybe 75% of the barracuda, as a off-the-cuff completely unscientific number.

The power is noticeably lower than the barracudas, even comparing an active one of these new WD ones versus an idle barracuda.

Overall I'm very happy with it. Those barracudas cooked - definitely needed some air circulation around them. The new WD can sit in a less-than-ideal spot and remain comfortably cool. And if your system has more than a few drives I can definitely see this making a nice difference in heat and power consumption with an acceptable tradeoff in latency. Maybe use one non-green fast drive for the system and other rapid-access data, and then these for the less critical stuff, media library, etc.

(Posted AC 'cause I don't feel like making an account for one measly post)

Re:No rotational speed spec. (5, Informative)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453169)

From what I remember from the reviews, the disc spins between 5400 and 7200rpm depending on load. Benchmarks showed it's not as fast as equivalent 7200rpm drives of the same capacity, but the performance disparity is in the region on 5-10% at worst. For people worried about power usage and/or noise though, it looks like a superb drive - perfect for an HTPC.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/13379 [techreport.com]

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454137)

Variable RPM during usage would be tricky; head flight height would be all over the place. Everything I've seen suggests it's fixed somewhere around 5400RPM, but is capable of throttling down when not in use so when it wakes up it doesn't have to spin up from 0RPM.

I wonder why WD don't seem to publish a read bit error rate for these drives. Seagate's 7200.11's rate 1 sector per 1^14, or 1^15 for the ES.2; neither of which are particularly wonderful (what's that, 1 error per 10-100TB read?), but you'd hope WD are closer to the latter than the former if they're touting these for enterprisey usage.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454307)

IIRC WD have brought out an "RE2" edition targeted at the enterprise market, as they do with mose of their range. Just been poking around WD's site and, as you point out, couldn't find a spec sheet listing the read error rate for any of the drives I looked at, which is a bit annoying.

Pretty sure there is a variable spindle speed though; is it possible they alter the height of the head during travel, depending on spindle speed...? Sounds quite tricky but surely some clever electricla engineering could solve that...? Curse WD for not going into more details about it...

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454817)

I wonder why WD don't seem to publish a read bit error rate for these drives. Seagate's 7200.11's rate 1 sector per 1^14, or 1^15 for the ES.2; neither of which are particularly wonderful (what's that, 1 error per 10-100TB read?), but you'd hope WD are closer to the latter than the former if they're touting these for enterprisey usage.


I've always had a question about that... is that reading the data off the media (and thus corrected before it hits the external bus), or is that an undetected error that makes it all the way to the external bus, thus your read(2) call gets back crappy data, or you crash when the CPU gets to that bit of code? It can be hard to tell...

Though, wasn't there a utility (I believe it was called fsprobe?) that basically wrote test patterns to disk and read them back continuously and discovered that there were events (misreads) to the tune of maybe once a month (or once a week)?

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21457303)

This reeks of the 4500 rpm Quantum Fireballs of old. They can pull off the bit density but not the corresponding channel throughput so they have to slow down the rpm to avoid wasting capacity. The Green thing is marketing's way of selling it.

Re:No rotational speed spec. (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21458935)

I first learnt about WD's green drives from their site and I remember they clearly explained the RPM rate spectrum of a green drive. I check now the link you provided and I don't see the rate. Did they remove it? Why? Whose marketer's idea was this? As a customer I would never consider a dynamic RPM drive if I don't know the rate range, no matter what they call it. Even though the rotational speed may change, it still has got to have a range, eg between 5400-7200 etc, and as consumers we want to know it. This IntelliPower kinda reminds me of the PR CPU metric, or even the current Intel/AMD model numbers where the actual MHz/GHz rate is downplayed. When the manufacturer tells you the MHz or RPM rate, you as a consumer have the power to take a meaningful decision after critically analysing the product specs (more MHz doesn't equal more performance, but the metric works between identical CPUs), but when the manufacturer cites a benchmark they do or a marketing term they thought of then it's like they tell you "buy our product on faith alone, as we guarantee you it's good for you, you don't need scientific details about our product". I consider this a consumer rights issue and I believe the consumer has a right and an expectation to be told actual measurable scientific properties of their product. My view is that a person who buys a product becomes its new rightful owner and as such has a natural right to be told everything about the product and its internals, and this right also extends to before the actual purchase as the consumer needs to be able to take the right decision. If this trend with marketing speak continues we will soon have to buy drives by their "holds thousands of image files" metric rather than by GBs!

How Green is Green? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453071)

It's good to see manufacturers trying to reduce power consumption in their products, and I hope the trend continues (without impacting performance). However the big savings are more likely to be found in the manufacturing processes. How much energy could be saved there? How much "greener" could the chemical processes be?

It's neat, it's a start, I'm sure it'll produce a decent amount of ad copy for them, but it's not really very "Green".

Re:How Green is Green? (1)

Echolima (1130147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455497)

...but it's not really very "Green".

I have to agree here.

There were/are a few articles about this, as well as broadcasts on the news about how recent products are claiming that they are 'Green', yet they produce more pollution while making the product than others who don't claim to be green.

According to this article [canada.com] some claimed to be green, being made of all natural ingredients. Well, Arsenic is natural.....

To me, this product isnt "green" but it is energy efficient.

5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453081)

Let me know when they save 50watts.
How much savings for a static memory drive?

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453109)

Let me know when they save 50watts.

How much savings for a static memory drive?


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 too would be interested to know how much power solid state drives use. I can't help but think that without any moving parts, they consume one hell of a lot less.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (4, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453135)

When you run a relatively small server room with 40 servers each with 5 drives in a raid that 5 watts turns into 1 kW fairly rapidly.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453163)

> When you run a relatively small server room with 40 servers each with 5 drives in a raid that 5 watts turns into 1 kW fairly rapidly.

So...

If you multiply a small number by a big number then you get a big number.

That doesn't stop the original number being small though.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453473)

that's the most stupid argument i've ever heard.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Zibblsnrt (125875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454425)

Come on, this is Slashdot. That can't be more than the third most stupid argument you've ever heard.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453711)

The trouble is that these drives are slower than their normal counterparts (up to 10%), so you'll need more of them. That doesn't sound so bad, and is easily offset by the 40% power savings. However, what is not taken into account here is the production of the drive. I'm willing to bet that the largest part of the CO2 etc. released is released in building the drive, not running it, especially since normal non-green drives only use just over 10W at most (though admittedly I've not actually calculated the CO2 cost of hard drives).

Another very important thing to take into account is the fact that these are Western Digital's figures, not independently verified. I suspect that within server situations, in which the drives will generally have a much higher workload, their power savings will be much less. If, however, they do still offer decent power savings, they will help solve one problem - heat in the server room.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453141)

Of course, 5 watts is about nothing, but if there is really no performance reduction, and with a price of only around 10$ more, they migh be marginally better (economically, from the selfish buyer point of view, ignoring the benefits of reducing CO2 emissions)

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

MrWeelson (948337) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453151)

Absolutely correct, 1 * 5 watts is insignificant. Multiply this by potentially thousands of drives and you quickly end up saving a lot of energy. 1 car doing 40mpg vs 35mpg = not much help 1 million cars doing 40mpg vs 35mpg...... If the specs are the same or similar to existing drives, and the price comparable then you may as well go for the slightly more efficient model.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453173)

Please excuse me for being a bit unnice, but (assuming WD provides correct specs) you sir are one huge moron.
According to the official product sheet [wdc.com] (some javascript magic, click the "Specifications" tab to get to the interesting bits), one of those drives eats up 7.5W during reads/writes and 4.0W when idle. According to a (I think it was the first) law of thermodynamics, it cannot "use" -42.5W since then it'd suck up energy which is impossible to accomplish without increasing it's mass which typically only black holes do (or something to that amount, anyways).

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (3, Informative)

agildehaus (112245) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453193)

Since when is a 5 watt savings on a 3.5 inch hard drive a joke? They typically use 10-14 watts when seeking (maybe 1.5 times that at startup) so any amount of savings that can be expressed as an integer is a significant savings. 2.5" and 1.8" Laptop drives are also FAR more power efficient than desktop drives, averaging about 2-3 watts during seeks.

Solid state drives use about a half a watt from the specs sheets I've looked at.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453201)

I just read from the drive's page on the WD online store:

This power savings equates to reducing CO2 emission by up to 13.8 kilograms per drive per year - the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 3 days each year
Let's see, 13.8 kilograms per drive per year. That's like saving 13.8/2.4 = 5.75 litres of gas every year... not superimpresive, but more than nothing. At least for the owner's pocket. But thinking about the "green" concept, it's certainly minimum. The economic value of 1 ton of CO2 is considered to be about 50$ (tops). Then, with 13.8 kg, you are saving about 0.70$ a year. Not saving the world here, even with lots of these drives.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (2, Informative)

asc99c (938635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453279)

How much energy do you believe a hard disc uses ?!?!? I thought a typical 7200 rpm desktop drive uses around 12W at max load. My media server at home currently has 11 hard discs, and is built on an Athlon 64 3000+ platform. The total energy use is 150W, measured through a power meter plugged in at the wall. This was up by 9W when I added the latest 2 500GB SATA2 discs.

It would be great if the discs could tell they were being asked to read only 1-2MB/sec and just spin at minimal speed that enabled that. The oldest hard discs in my server are rather old and small - I'll have to start replacing them soon rather than adding more. I'll definitely be looking at this range when I need more space.

I agree 5W isn't much, but it is actually quite a lot for just the hard disc. If every other component of a PC got the same treatment the savings would add up.

5 watt savings sometimes is green! (1)

eknagy (1056622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453643)

My laptop is rated as 20-60 Watts.
20 Watt = dimmed LCD, CPU at 800 MHz
60 Watt = bright LCD, CPU at 1800 MHz
I guess that 20=>15 W would prolong my battery time with an hour.

Maybe not "green" but useful (2, Interesting)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454013)

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.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455537)

You can get on the "green" bandwagon by changing your logo to use more green, and flying out attractive, young, female stars to Japanese dolphin fisheries to cry over the cute animals.

Actually reducing power requirements of something by even an insignificant percentage is way overkill.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Zebadias (861722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453129)

Let me know when they save 50watts.
How much savings for a static memory drive?
Why don't you look at how much the drive uses in total! Then 5 watts is a significant saving.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

chrischan (630726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453139)

Since a typical drive has about 10 watts, it will be very difficult to save 50. I think a 50% reduction is pretty impressive, though.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453155)

If your device originally took 10 watts, then a 5 watts saving is incredibly huge...

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (3, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453165)

5 Watts saved on an expected power usage of between 10 and 25 Watts is pretty significant.

See the power usage specs here: http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/storage/hddpower.html [digit-life.com], a bit older perhaps, but not that much.

Re:5watt savings is "green" ??? sheesh (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454123)

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.

5400 rpm, 4 platters and a lot of marketing lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453103)

Subject says all. Benchmarks by somewhat reputable sources I've read so far come up with read latencies and transfer rates that hint at the 5400 rpm / 4 platter geometry. "IntelliSpeed" merely means "we could take any of the drives of that series to 7200 rpm, (but we don't) and you're too stupid to understand that". All that said, the drive seems to be a reasonably energy efficient bulk storage device and more than sufficient for large media libraries. However, Samsung appears to be shipping Spinpoint F drives since yesterday.

Parking, Unload, Spindown Not Always So Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453125)

Just as I have read this, I was reminded of my Toshiba MK2003GAH disk which is "so green" that you can't even disable the spindown and instead need to continuously read something from it to not park/unload heads after 5-15 sec. Unload and spindown reduces HD life. (Hidden attempt to boost sales?)

Re:Parking, Unload, Spindown Not Always So Good (1)

chrischan (630726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453157)

This is the same for my WD drive. After 86 hours, 6000 load/unload cycles. It will reach the end of its lifespan in about 6 months I guess. Does anyone know some more details about that issue?

Re:Parking, Unload, Spindown Not Always So Good (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453207)

You've tried

hdparm -B 255
I suppose?

Re:Parking, Unload, Spindown Not Always So Good (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454745)

These drives (at least the 1TB model that I have) do not support the ATA Advanced Power Management feature set, and return an I/O error to "hdparm -B 255". I have confirmed with WD customer support that it is not possible to turn off "Intellipark" (the load/unload feature).

A kludge that does seem to work is to write a program that reads a sector from the disk every few seconds so that it never becomes idle, but of course that approach has its own drawbacks. It should be possible to move this kludge into the Linux I/O schedulers (so that it would send extra reads if and only if no real I/O had been requested in the last X seconds) but I haven't had time to look into this more closely.

Re:Parking, Unload, Spindown Not Always So Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21456053)

So much for the intelligence in "Intellipark".

I would not move the kludge into the schedulers - after all, there are at least three of them, which calls for code duplication. A userspace program is enough, but I have stuck to a kernel module (loaded early - unloaded late compared to userspace).

bandwagon labelling for the gullible (0, Offtopic)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453159)

Ooooh, it's green! It must be "good"

let's have green CPU fans, green memory, green chassis (made from wood?), green power plugs, green keyboards, green mice, green screens of death, green .... oh h*ll, I can't go on.

This is just a marketing ploy to try to differentiate the manufacturer from the competition.

If you want to save energy, turn the wretched thing off

A product with a niche (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453233)

I'll be seriously looking at getting one or more of these. My home media server is under the television and the bulk of the noise is drive vibration.

If these drives consume less power, then they are going to be quieter. I don't care about the performance ; as people are pointing out, it will be more than good enough to for media service, which doesn't need low seek times. At most my server only ever copes with five streams (three tuners recording and two pre-recorded streams being watched) with a potential total IO of 40MBit/s.

If a couple of these could increase my storage space and decrease drive noise I'll jump at it. And the Wife Acceptance Factor will be awesome - she loves all that green stuff almost as much as she loves having all the Scrubs she can watch on tap.

Re:A product with a niche (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453545)

You could also consider getting a straight 5400rpm drive. I've got one in my system (an old Maxtor 160gb), and it is about the quietest drive I've ever (not) heard. It has got a bit louder recently (within the last year or so), but when I got it about 5 years ago (I think - it was brand new and one of the largest capacities you could get, though I think 200gb were available too), I couldn't tell when it was active or not, unless I put my ear right next to it. I don't do anything much that relies on hard drive transfer speed, except gaming in which it only affects load times, so it has been perfect for me.

One problem is that lots of companies have stopped making 3.5" 5400rpm drives, so you can't get them very big. A quick search only found them up to 250gb. That may well be enough for you, it depends on your requirements. Also, I don't know how "green" they are - I presume they must draw less power than 7200 drives, but I'm not sure how they'd stack up against the drive in TFA.

Re:A product with a niche (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453763)

Another option is a 2.5" drive. These are up to around 250GB now and can be found as slow as 4200RPM. The drive noise from my laptop with a 5400RPM 2.5" drive is almost zero. And, since they're smaller, you can fit a couple in a media centre case for some redundancy.

Re:A product with a niche (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453821)

Exactly, the problem is that 5400rpm drives barely exist now. In addition to quieter, slower and less power also means cooler. I want to build a very quiet media server to house a slew of drives, so if I can avoid loud, hot drives which require a bevy of fans to keep them cool I'm all for it.

Re:A product with a niche (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454289)

Yeah, the size thing really blows.

I considered 2.5" drives, but they are too small in terms of data. And to get my current capacity in 250GB drives would mean doubling my drive count, which wouldn't be sensible. I presently have just over a TB of storage (as two 3.5" drives) in this machine. A single drive that was quieter than one of the units I have now would be a serious improvement.

My wife and I are both heavy hoarders of video. With the UK phasing out analogue broadcast in 2012, the media server is going to be the only source of TV in the house (it's the only DVB-T capable device). And it sees a lot of use now. I could hide the storage on a NAS in the loft, but that just moves the problem upstairs and leaves it vulnerable to squirrels (!). It also just hides the energy consumption, rather than leaving the side effects (noise) in my face.

Pending the arrival of an economic bulk storage scale non-volatile RAM technology, quieter hard disk seems like a great idea.

Re:A product with a niche (1)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455555)

And it sees a lot of use now. I could hide the storage on a NAS in the loft, but that just moves the problem upstairs and leaves it vulnerable to squirrels

That's what I plan on doing. I rip all of my media to my desktop computer so I don't have to worry about losing the physical media or trying to find it when I want to watch it. With HD getting more popular though you need a significant amount more of space and with the current crop of drives it's just not feasible to fit them into the media center case and keep it quiet.

The new place I'm moving into is going to have a gigabit network which should be more than plenty to pump signals all over the house.

Re:bandwagon labelling for the gullible (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454531)

This is just a marketing ploy to try to differentiate the manufacturer from the competition.
Yeah. How dare they build drives that use less energy, and then advertise them as somehow being more "environmentally friendly"? The gall!

Solid State? (3, Interesting)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453205)

How does this compare to solid state drives in terms of power efficiency?

Re:Solid State? (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453581)

Still not close, but I think they're competing in different markets. If you need 500GB disks, you're not looking at SSDs (unless you got a spare ten grand or so).

Re:Solid State? (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454115)

At the price flash drives are getting to it's tempting to get a SATA to CompactFlash adaptor and put the base system (where performance matters most) on that and keep the 500gb drive for logs and movies..

So they may not be entirely different markets.

Re:Solid State? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454879)

Can't we just go straight to the solid-state memory and stop worrying about "spinning disks"? I mean, think about it: very soon, we're going to laugh about the fact that we used to use these boxes with spinning platters inside to save all of our data.


Problem is, storage capacity has risen faster tha Moore's Law, thus, spinny disks get more storage faster than solid state memory gets more memory. Also, people want large disks. A 64GB SSD costs the better part of a grand, and people want it in their laptops to hold Vista, Office, other applications, games, *AND* their music and movies. It gets filled rather fast. For the same price, you can get a ton of storage cheap (500GB drives are what? Under $200 now?), which holds tons of music and video (and applications/games are hardly a consideration).

At the price flash drives are getting to it's tempting to get a SATA to CompactFlash adaptor and put the base system (where performance matters most) on that and keep the 500gb drive for logs and movies..


IIRC, performance would suck. CompactFlash, except the massively expensive ones that support UDMA, only support PIO mode. Fine for small servers, but might be a touch annoying. But great for low power applications and extreme environments, or where the CPU power it needs is minor (disk rarely accessed).

Re:Solid State? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453589)

You want to compare a 500GB hard drive that uses 5-15W against a SSD of 32 or 64GB that uses only 2 to 5W? You're welcome

Re:Solid State? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454239)

thanks for your approval, now i feel validated as a person. Perhaps I only care about power usage rather than capacity. Ever consider that?

Re:Solid State? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454411)

Please excuse my harshness.
      You will find here a comparison of HDD power use (and others characteristics):
http://www.anan/ [www.anan] dtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=2982

Power Draw Idle / Load .16W / .48W .87W / 2.42W 9.19W / 10.02W
                                                SSD 16GB 2.5" Laptop Raptor

So, a 5W reduction in power would bring a 500GB 3.5" HDD power envelope at 10 times a 16GB, 2.5" SSD
      Note that the SSD was an early model. Newer models will probably increase the power consumption (double it, let's say)

Re:Solid State? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454491)

Power efficiency?
      compared to a 160GB laptop drive, you end up with:
about a fifth of power use
a tenth of capacity
probably a lower weight
no noise
half the average speed and a fifth of burst speed
depending on scenario, somewhat lower performance to a fifth of the performance
      As for power efficiency, you have:
Half the capacity/power use
Better performance/power (from somewhat lower to more than 5 times better, depending on the scenario)
More $ multiplied by Watts

Green, my ass! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21453215)

Call it "efficient" or "low power" and I might be interested. But, appeals to the naive desire for "green" products is me away, fast.

Re:Green, my ass! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21454457)

...driving me away, fast.

Marketing people of tech companies are incompetent (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453373)

Marketing people in technological companies often have no knowledge of technology and don't think it is important to have any.

Western Digital GreenPower Hard Drives [westerndigital.com] seem to be heavily influenced by that attitude. There seems to be no information about actual speed, giving the impression that arrogant marketing people have decided that technically knowledgeable people can be manipulated, and won't notice that lack of specifications.

It's difficult to compete with Seagate's 5-Year Warranty [seagate.com], reliability is extremely important in most cases. The cost of a drive failure is far greater than any energy savings, except perhaps in large data centers with special software. The 5-year warranty says that Seagate management believes in the reliability of their hard drives, and will pay if they aren't reliable.

Both the Western Digital and Seagate web sites show the lack of interest in technology that is due to the arrogance of marketing people. The WD web site is heavily dependent on JavaScript; web site designers want to add JavaScript to their resume, but don't want to take the time to understand a complicated computer programming language, so JavaScript is often poorly written. The WD web site advises me that WD Enterprise Class GreenPower drives can hold "Up to 250,000 songs (MP3) [westerndigital.com]". I imagine that will impress Slashdot readers who buy hardware for data centers. NOT.

The Seagate web site advises me that the search facility uses a certificate that is out of date. I am also advised to upgrade my version of Flash; I guess Seagate is sucked in by Macromedia/Adobe's method of advertising its name: Make everyone who visits web sites with Flash frequently see an advertisement to visit the Flash web site. Do that by bringing out numerous versions of Flash, and advising visitors to "updgrade".

The Seagate web site Flash is especially embarrassing [seagate.com]. It says "Your On". Click on the Flash and it talks about "leveraging", a favorite word of those who don't understand technology. The CEO of Seagate supposedly tells us, "The explosive growth in digital devices, applications and content is breathtaking..."

The marketing of technical products is usually incompetent, dishonest, despicable, and self-destructive.

Re:Marketing people of tech companies are incompet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21454649)

It's difficult to compete with Seagate's 5-Year Warranty, reliability is extremely important in most cases. The cost of a drive failure is far greater than any energy savings, except perhaps in large data centers with special software. The 5-year warranty says that Seagate management believes in the reliability of their hard drives, and will pay if they aren't reliable.

Or it says that customers are gullible and think something is more reliable because it has a longer warranty. Warranty doesn't mean shit about reliability. All it means is, "we'll take back your garbage and send you a replacement piece of garbage to shut you up"

Re:Marketing people of tech companies are incompet (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455201)

Let me guess, you finally get up the nerve to ask out that cute girl in marketing and got turned down?

Re:Marketing people of tech companies are incompet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21455501)

Anger problem

Re:Marketing people of tech companies are incompet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21455933)

It seems to be a trend. The world is full of disappointed techies in every IT-related field. Which is more likely, the disappointment is caused by that girl (irrespective of the genre of the techie) in the marketing or just wrongly targeted marketing communications ("Marketing Collateral Damage" or "The Friedly Fire of Marketing")?

Look... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21453917)

Look, WD, I don't care what color you spray paint your hard drives. After my failed HD was replaced by another that started clicking almost immediately, I ain't never going back.

The greenest green is cash (1)

neimon (713907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454127)

Yes. I'm sure WD is green. Their failure rate makes them some of the least power-consuming drives in the industry. Well done for being 10 years ahead of the curve.

Lower Power Means Cooler Too (1)

AdiBean (653963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454163)

Something I have not seen discussed is that 40% less power means 40% less heat generated. Potentially, this means fewer fans (and less fan noise), lower air conditioning costs if you have a lot of drives in a data center, and longer electronics life for the drive.

GreenPower? Really! (1)

link5280 (1141253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21454291)

I really hate the term "green" when used to describe a products so-called friendliness with the environment. Just about every computer product touted as green has some form of toxic substance contained within it or uses nonrenewable energy to function. Anyhow, kudos on the HD power reduction technology by WD, but don't call it "GreenPower".

Re:GreenPower? Really! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21454815)

Maybe their next model will include a hamster that spins the platters.

Re:GreenPower? Really! (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21457235)

On one hand, you have every manufacturer these days putting eco-babble into their marketing. On the other hand, every alarmist "We're DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED" (imagine Bender) article I read, eventually turns into a sales pitch for some product.

And yet, I'm a callous fool for looking at all of it skeptically.

Myself, I "consume" as little as possible. I buy used cars and electronics, and am the type to repair my TV set if possible. Yet, society wants me to buy a new Prius, and ditch my TV in favor of one with no standby LED.

And all this "consuming" will help, how?

The vehicles on the road account for 5-20% of CO2 emissions, depending on who you ask, but the manufacturing industry (esp aluminum smelting!) account for the rest.

So, in order to gain an immeasurably small gain, we need to kick our manufacturers into overdrive, while we all trip over each other to buy Priuses, new washing machines, new nintendos, new phones, and new hard drives.

Bah, I'm tired of even thinking about it. It's tedious.

To me it seems like the average Joe found a way to shoehorn the wests throwaway culture into some environmentalist hogwash, to make himself feel better. I'd think the real answer would be to shift back to a service-based economy. We don't need to keep buying so fucking much new stuff. MAKING NEW STUFF WASTES MORE ENERGY AND MATERIALS THAN USING OUR OLD STUFF!

A shiny new Prius is so much more of a vanity purchase than my used Mustang.

How can people be walking around the mall talking about how they're "reducing their footprint" GACK

How Geeen is Green ? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21455769)

Is in Green in the same way that a 500GB disk holds 5,000,000,000 bytes (== 465 GBytes) rather than 536,870,912,000 bytes ?

Re:How Geeen is Green ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21458527)

Is in Green in the same way that a 500GB disk holds 5,000,000,000 bytes (== 465 GiBytes) rather than 536,870,912,000 bytes ?
There, fixed that for you.

$10/year at the PC "users" level? Blow it out your (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21456087)

Quote: Western Digital said that large data centers could save up to $100,000 annually if they replaced 10,000 standard drives with GreenPower drives. At a PC level, users might save $10 a year per drive.

Nonsense ! Assuming 5W savings (big if) AND 24hrs/day, 365days/yr AND 10 cents/kWh:

5x24x365= 44 kWh or $4.40

Who pays 25 cents/kWh? I pay 8 cents. I don't run 24 hrs a day. I MIGHT save two dollars a year. How much more is this drive going to cost me? Assuming 5-year life, if it's $10 more than a non-green, I save nothing.

 
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