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WD Caviar GP: The "Green" 1 TB Drive

WD Caviar GP: The "Green" 1 TB Drive
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Terabyte drives from Samsung and Seagate have been delayed, but WD just released a new 1,000 GB hard drive called the Caviar GP. It's no performance champion, but it's probably the most efficient desktop hard drive ever.

Hitachi was the first hard drive maker to offer a 1 TB model, the Deskstar 7K1000, as early as the spring of 2007. Although Samsung and Seagate announced their 1 TB hard drives months ago, Samsung is past due, and Seagate’s first 7200.11 sample had to be sent back because of faulty firmware - what a pity. Thus, Hitachi has held the capacity crown for half a year, while Western Digital still holds the speed record with its 750 GB Caviar SE16. WD has now caught up with Hitachi in terms of capacity with its new Caviar GP 1 TB, which also delivers "power savings as the primary attribute" by flexibly adjusting the rotation speed between 5,400 and higher speeds for each capacity version Compare Prices on Caviar 1 TB Drive.

The emergence of power savings and energy efficiency as important issues isn’t a temporary phenomenon. In fact, reducing power consumption in every aspect of our lives will not only help to reduce CO2 emissions (produced by most power plants based on fossil fuels) to limit the effects of global warming, it will increasingly be noticeable at the end of the month when you look over your energy bill.

Switching off the display or hard drives when the system is idle for a long time was the first step. Power saving mechanisms such as Cool’n’Quiet and SpeedStep in AMD and Intel processors are a second one. We expect more and more silicon components to be equipped with features that help reduce energy consumption where possible. WD’s GreenPower drives are a logical evolution of this trend, as hard drives do, in fact, spend a lot of their time running idle or at low loads.

Who Needs A Green Hard Drive Anyway ?

Looking at hard drives to accomplish power savings may seem pointless, given that many other system components consume several times more energy than hard drives do. Typically, a 3.5" hard drive consumes between 6 and 10 W when it runs idle, doing nothing, though it can require over 20 W when it’s highly active. Power requirements vary with the type of interface - SATA is more power hungry than Ultra ATA - and a drive’s geometry, too : the more platters used in a drive, the more energy it will consume.

It seems more logical to apply power-saving mechanisms to components such as the chipset, which can consume more than 40 W in a high-end desktop PC (Northbridge and Southbridge) or graphics processors that use anywhere between 25 W for low-end parts and 100+ W in the high-end. However, it can require significant effort to implement smart power-saving mechanisms that will work as intended and not disrupt the user experience or a product’s feature set.

Reducing a component’s operating speed typically is the easiest way of achieving power savings. Obviously, this is something that can be applied rather easily to hard drives, as it isn’t very difficult to use spindle motors that can operate at variable speeds. WD goes down this path with its Caviar GP drives, as the firm adjusts the rotation speed anywhere between 5,400 RPM and up to 7,200 RPM dynamically for each model.

Consequently, we should not expect exciting performance results from the new hard drive, which also means that it won’t be a recommendation for enthusiasts with little patience. We typically recommend that you either use a balanced hard drive for your operating system and your data, or use one fast hard drive for the OS and a second, large hard drive for all your data. The WD Caviar GP certainly offers sufficient capacity at up to 1 TB, but it is more suitable for DVRs, NAS devices, media servers, other types of storage servers and backup drives than it is for performance PCs. As I already pointed out in the introduction of this article, the primary design attribute for the Caviar GP drives is to deliver maximum power savings, which is the aspect upon which we’ll focus with the new WD10EACS.

Join our discussion on this article !

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  • 0 Hide
    Dick99999 , May 15, 2008 11:47 AM
    I wonder whether the following should be read such that each GP model has it's own but otherwise fixed RPM for that model.
    WD spec sheet says:
    "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."

    Or is it really a fully dynamic RPM during operation as could be read by:
    "WD goes down this path with its Caviar GP drives, as the firm adjusts the rotation speed anywhere between 5,400 RPM and up to 7,200 RPM dynamically for each model."


  • -1 Hide
    Dick99999 , May 15, 2008 12:33 PM
    Sorry, it seems every series has a different description. I quoted the Caviar GP and the tech overview. The different descriptions are:

    RE2-GP series
    IntelliPower — A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance. Additionally,....[some other remarks]

    AV-GP series
    IntelliPower – A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance.

    Caviar®GP
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 15, 2008 3:54 AM
    All GP drive are fixed 5400rpm as of today. No they do not vary RPM, this reviewer does not know what he is talking about. It has been proven mathematically with access times and acoustical measuring. Further more, WD does NOT claim the spindle speed varies. They CONFIRM that the spindle speed is INvariable as clearly stated below. WD has pulled ALL GP spindle speed information off their website to avoid confusion and to not detour people from this great drive.

    Caviar®GP
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    TheCloud903 , October 23, 2011 10:56 AM