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HDDs, The Next Generation: Drives With 4KB Sectors On The Way

WD’s EARS Series

WD is the first manufacturer to release 4K sector hard drives to the market in volume quantities. Although this is not a major technology launch for Western Digital—the drives were introduced rather quietly—the technology and its proper adoption are important. The reasons include performance issues you will face if you don’t pay attention to the characteristics of 4K sector size on operating systems older than Windows 7 or Vista (we’ll discuss these on the following page). For this reason, WD probably selected its Caviar Green product family to deploy 4K sectors first, as the low-power drive doesn’t have to deliver maximum performance. And yet it still does well.

There is a simple way to identify the Advanced Format drive. You can either tell it by the product label that comes with a little note (see next page) or by the cache capacity. No other current WD mainstream drive besides the Caviar Black or RE4 come with 64MB of cache yet. At least for the Caviar Green models, you can be sure you're looking at an AFD model if the buffer size is 64MB.

These drives follow on the EADS series that we reviewed in September 2009, with the EARS offering additional performance over its predecessor. The spindle speed remains at 5,400 RPM, and power requirements have reached new record lows: 2.8W idle power is less than any other 3.5” drive. Just keep in mind that this 1TB drive utilizes only two platters; three- or four-platter drives would not be this low on power. Active power is slightly higher than on the WD10EADS, but still very low. Application performance in PCMark Vantage isn’t impressive, but let’s not forget that this drive wasn’t designed to be a sprinter.

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ManufacturerWestern Digital
ModelWD Caviar Green
Model NumberWD10EARS
Form Factor3.5"
Capacity1,000GB
Spindle Speed5,400 RPM
Other Capacities1,500GB, 2,000GB
Platters2
Cache64MB
NCQyes
InterfaceSATA/300
Operating Temperature0-60°C
Specified Idle Power2.8W
Measured Idle Power2.9W
Operating Shock (2 ms, read)65G
Warranty3 years