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Hard Drives Can Be More Efficient

Flash SSD Update: More Results, Answers
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We would like to talk a bit more about how hard drives can be more power efficient than many of the Flash SSDs on the market. While a mechanical drive will never be able to reach power requirements as low as shown by the OCZ drive when idling under Windows Vista with drive power management disabled or when playing a DVD stream, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

While many Flash SSDs show idle power requirements that are not clearly below the idle requirement of a hard drive, they will eventually leave mechanical drives in the dust (look at the results of the OCZ drive on the following pages). Until this is the case, the hard drive has a chance to keep up, as Hitachi shows impressively. Typically, 2.5” SATA hard drives require between 0.8 W and 1.5 W when idle, and 2.5 W to 4.0 W peak power.

Many people were wondering why the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 could do so well in our previous article, although we had measured an idle power that was significantly higher than idle power of some of the Flash SSDs. The reason is simple: idle isn’t always idle. While we’ve been measuring idle power after a few minutes of inactivity, some hard drives will switch into more energy-efficient operating modes a few minutes later. Hence, all the idle power measurements will now be conducted after 10 minutes of inactivity to make sure that a hard drive’s power saving mechanism can come into action. Have a look at the power saving technology as offered by Hitachi:

ssd hard drive

As you can see , there are various hard drive power states that go all the way from peak power (all on - mode 0) to standby (spin down platters - mode 2) and even off (all off - sleep). While many people will immediately say that the low power we measured must have been measured when the drive is spun down, we can assure you that this isn’t the case. Hitachi implemented a low power idle mode, which will reduce the drive power requirement while still providing sufficient performance to answer requests. Remember this when you check out the test results — especially DVD playback.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    JPForums , July 14, 2008 1:13 PM
    Kudos to Tom's for having the decency to admit their mistakes and revise the article. The results, while not extraordinarily different than the previous article (discounting newcomers) provided a much more complete picture of the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs.

    Articles like this one are a necessary step to regaining some of the lost credibility from previous articles like in this scenario. (Though it would be better if the articles didn't need revision) In short, it is encouraging to see that Tom's is listening to the readers. IMHO the real enthusiasts are more concerned with well thought out procedures, and accuracy/completeness/comprehensiveness of results than reading the "We posted first" articles that are all to easy to find on the internet.
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    Xeus32 , July 14, 2008 7:41 AM
    LOL
  • 1 Hide
    Xeus32 , July 14, 2008 7:43 AM
    Flash SSDs do not inherently contribute to increasing battery life and better efficiency comes with the appropriate Flash SSD used for a specific application. "Flash SSD" is not a qualifier for efficiency or performance.
  • 1 Hide
    swiftpulse , July 14, 2008 10:02 AM
    This is much better than the first article now. Specially the DVD playback is interesting.
  • 0 Hide
    swiftpulse , July 14, 2008 10:06 AM
    The 64GB OCZ seems to be an amazingly exceptional drive.
  • -3 Hide
    bloodymaze , July 14, 2008 11:37 AM
    Hahaha. Once again contradicting yourself as Xeus pointed out.
  • 11 Hide
    JPForums , July 14, 2008 1:13 PM
    Kudos to Tom's for having the decency to admit their mistakes and revise the article. The results, while not extraordinarily different than the previous article (discounting newcomers) provided a much more complete picture of the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs.

    Articles like this one are a necessary step to regaining some of the lost credibility from previous articles like in this scenario. (Though it would be better if the articles didn't need revision) In short, it is encouraging to see that Tom's is listening to the readers. IMHO the real enthusiasts are more concerned with well thought out procedures, and accuracy/completeness/comprehensiveness of results than reading the "We posted first" articles that are all to easy to find on the internet.
  • -3 Hide
    dragunover , July 14, 2008 1:23 PM
    iLOL
    I like when people talk about the power inefficiency of hard-drives,yet don't blame things like CPU's,or discrete GPU's in their laptops.

    However,I would like to see this as a high power part in desktops sooner or later,but with of course more power and(hopefully) stellar reliability.
    And I mean for under 300 dollars.
  • -4 Hide
    dragunover , July 14, 2008 1:25 PM
    iLOL
    I like when people talk about the power inefficiency of hard-drives,yet don't blame things like CPU's,or discrete GPU's in their laptops.

    However,I would like to see this as a high power part in desktops sooner or later,but with of course more power and(hopefully) stellar reliability.
    And I mean for under 300 dollars.
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 2:34 PM
    Is measuring only wattage correct? What about the amps? I'm no electrical/mechanical engineer but I have always thought you need to measure both wattage and amperage to get the actual power consumption?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 2:39 PM
    Dragunover - no one is refuting the fact that the CPU/GPU will be power hungry... that's not what is under discussion here. i'm interested by the fact you seem to be asking for SSDs that consume more power...?
  • 8 Hide
    igot1forya , July 14, 2008 2:51 PM
    Ziria, Wattage (P) is calculated by multiplying Voltage (V) by Amps (A).

    Hence, the only important number is Wattage.
  • 3 Hide
    mdillenbeck , July 14, 2008 3:10 PM
    This article demonstrates that too often people generalize from specific test data.

    Whether SDD or HDD, how you use your electronics device will influence how it much power it consumes. To conclude that one drive uses less power because a specific test does is an inaccurate conclusion - the testor can only state that it uses less power under those given circumstances and that is most likely will hold true under similar circumstances. (For example: this test is for random read/write operations, so the results most likely will be true for most applications that follow that pattern of disk usage.)

    My point? Many times reviewers do not have the time to evaluate a product in depth, and thus they should not make broad generalizations or exaggerated claims.

    Hopefully Tom's will keep up with in-depth reviews for a variety of users - road warriors (office apps/web/email), multimedia entertainment (DVD/video streaming apps/music playing), gamers, and "typical home users" - and creating good summary tables of their findings.

    Myself, I find the IOs/Watt information especially valuable. I'll use that to find the IOs/Watt/$ when evaluating my future purchases. I'm kinda curious how the SSDs stack up against each other in that category (and I'm sure the HDDs are still waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy ahead of the SSDs right now).
  • 3 Hide
    Fadamor , July 14, 2008 6:50 PM
    demonhorde665to me teh argument isnt so much a "efficency" issue , to mee flash SSd's represent a future in computing where we don't have to replace , storage devices every 5-6 years (this is assuming you are getting agood high quality hard drive ) old mechanical hard drives (the current standard) fail after about 5-6 years to date the longest livinf hard drive i have is at 6 and i'll be amazed it it last half another year./ Also note you can cut this hard drive life expectancy in half if you smoke around your computer or you ahve a dusty home like many peopel in more rural areas. This hard drive death is soemthign that can't be stoped as the metal paltes require mechanical parts to spin them , and like any motor the parts will wear outa nd eventually stop working all together. Now fast forward to when they have SDD's that range in a better size (like at elast 250 gb) i can see these drive replacing even desk top hard drives , simpply for teh reason ... They HAVE NO MECHANICAL PARTS THAT WEAR OUT !

    Not true. Flash SSD's suffer the same flaw as your typical Flash "thumb drive"... The recording medium fails after X number of writes. They've added technology in the controllers to extend the drive's life by spreading the writes around the drive's landscape, but the drive WILL fail eventually... even if you treat it with kid gloves.
  • 2 Hide
    gxsolace , July 14, 2008 6:55 PM
    Wow. Pretty rare these days to see a big publication go out and admit a mistake and even make a big public apology. kudos to you guys.
  • 2 Hide
    uday_ananth , July 14, 2008 7:03 PM
    hard disks have been here for ages.. give ssds some more time and only then we can actually evaluatethe differences..
  • 3 Hide
    hergieburbur , July 14, 2008 7:29 PM
    Wow, I have to admit, I did not expect Tom's to admit their errors in the last article. I am glad they did though, and this one looks to be much more along the lines of what we would expect to see. Props for having the gut to admit your mistake Patrick and Aaron.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 8:10 PM
    All that really matters to me in regards to these articles, is that i'm not going to notice any difference in battery life while using my lapop. I could however expect to enjoy the speed if i got a good SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , July 14, 2008 9:06 PM
    Nice job Tom's. I thoroughly enjoyed this article a lot more than the previous one. It seems like the last one way maybe rushed. Either way, thanks for keeping things legit and up to (at least my idea of) Tom's quality standards. Thanks again!
  • 0 Hide
    shadowmaster625 , July 14, 2008 9:15 PM
    so where are the benchmarks for OCZ Core Raid-0?
  • -1 Hide
    JonnyDough , July 14, 2008 9:53 PM
    It's pretty simple. Solid state storage power can be turned off while in use in between read and writes. Hard drives have to continue spinning, or their access times would be seconds. I think the future is pretty clear, and there is no "hoax." Early hard drives were sub-par as well. If you release garbage stories like this, you'll hurt the SSD market and it will take longer for fast efficient SSDs to come into play. This is more like a retraction to an advertisement trying to slow the SSD market than anything. Methinks Tom's Hardware has been bought and paid for by the very companies it reviews, even going so far as to post articles and videos about integrity among video game reviews, to paint themselves in a "holy" light. Tom's, you have become an absolute farce. Leave it to California business to be corrupt and try to favor certain companies over others. We'd be morons to believe that it doesn't happen in the geek sector. Everyone has a price.
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