WD Green Power: A New Benchmark in HDD Acoustics & Power

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December 4, 2007 by Devon Cooke

Western Digital Caviar Green Power WD7500AACS
750GB, 5,400 RPM Low Power Hard Drive
Market Price

Most of the time, buying a hard drive comes down to two criteria: Price and capacity. Performance may also be factored in to the equation on occasion, but differences in drive performance tend to be small and, outside of a few specialized applications, very difficult to notice. This is a tough situation for drive makers, since it means that the best selling drives tend to be the ones with the best price-to-size ratio — a scenario that leads to price wars and lower margins.

One way out of this is to find a market segment that will pay extra for certain features and design a product to fit that niche. Western Digital has done this before with the Raptor X, and they appear to be doing something similar with their new Green Power series. It's not hard to guess which sector it targets. It's main claim to being Green is reduced power consumption — a claim that Western Digital makes loudly. The marketing for the drive is filled with detailed numbers about the amount of power you (might) save, the amount of money it (may) save you, and equivalent amount of carbon it (potentially) saves.

Their most impressive claim is to have reduced power consumption by 40% over regular drives. That's impressive, but, given that drives aren't terribly power hungry to begin with, it translates into only 4~5W. That's something, especially aggregated over thousands of drives in a data center, but it's not a whole lot for an end user, especially given that most of the environmental cost of the drive is tied up in the manufacturing process, not the energy it consumes afterwards.

Western Digital Caviar Green Power WD7500AACS
(from Western Digital's web site)
IntelliPower™ — A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance. For each GreenPower™ drive model, WD may use a different, invariable RPM. Our 750 GB sample is 5,400 RPM. Storage Review's 1 TB sample was 5,400 RPM. WD's literature lists the possible speed range as 5,400~7,200 RPM, but we have yet to hear reports of any models above 5,400 RPM.
IntelliSeek™ — Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration. Just-in-time seeking that lets the seek head move more slowly when it would otherwise have to wait for the latency of the spindle. Should be good for reliability as well.
IntelliPark™ — Delivers lower power consumption by automatically unloading the heads during idle to reduce aerodynamic drag. A standard notebook drive feature migrates to the desktop.
StableTrac™ — Secures the motor shaft at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations (750 GB and 1 TB models only). Presumably, this is necessary to produce 3- and 4-platter drives.
Preemptive Wear Leveling (PWL) — Proactively monitors and prevents magnetic wear during high read/write duty cycle applications. Again, should be good for reliability. Flash drives use a similar technique to best use the limited number of read/write cycles.
Large capacity — Up to 1TB of storage—ideal for graphic design, video editing, gaming, advanced business computing, and other high-end desktop applications. The current maximum for most manufacturers.

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