Why You Should Care About Green Storage

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 6:16am
Tom McDorman, vice president and general manager of enterprise storage solutions, WD
…And the steps WD took to innovate it

There is a lot of talk about going “green” lately, and while it is noble, timely and responsible to save the environment from excessive green house gases, in these tough economic times, it can be equally as responsible to lower energy and power costs. Although storage doesn’t necessarily consume the most power in a data center, new green solutions can significantly help to reduce a company’s overall energy consumption thus saving money. As the demand for increased storage capacity grows ever larger, so does the power to run high-capacity hard drives. It stands to reason that storage can become a definite data center CO2 emissions contributor. A 1TB hard drive has a typical power consumption rating greater than 13.5 watts. By reducing power consumption on an average hard drive 5 watts, large data-hungry organizations such as financial institutions and web service providers may realize up to $10 savings per drive per year in electricity costs (U.S.). For operations that support 10,000 drives, this can add up quickly to a savings of up to $100,000 per year, as well as the reduction in CO2 emissions by up to 60 kilograms per drive per year - the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 14 days each year.

Companies interested in improving their energy efficiency and reducing power costs will be happy to learn that new green storage solutions will also help applications run faster. Western Digital has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources to innovate new power-efficient hard drives that maximize power usage while maintaining and often surpassing the performance of non-green options. Reducing power consumption by up to 50 percent compared to traditional hard drives, Western Digital’s WD RE-GP enterprise-class drives enable most any company to save energy costs on their servers and storage subsystems while taking advantage of the latest technology improvements in terms of capacity and performance. Just for environmental conservation alone, the WD RE4-GP drive allows companies to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising reliability or performance with a high-capacity 2TB RAID-class performance storage solution.

To build more power-efficient drives, WD developers took a long, hard look at the operations of the drive to determine if we could make them work more intelligently together. Doing so, we knew, would significantly lower the power consumption. First, we worked with fine-tuning the balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms that resulted in reducing power while maintaining solid performance. This design strategy also lessened the power requirement during start up, allowing more drives to spin simultaneously resulting in faster system readiness.

Then we implemented a way for the drives to calculate optimum seek speeds to lower unnecessary power consumption, noise, and vibration. Another innovation was to automatically unload recording heads during idle times to reduce aerodynamic drag, and by disengaging read/write channel electronics. Finally, we added power management to monitor work load and to automatically invoke idle mode whenever possible to further reduce unnecessary power consumption. Furthermore, to maintain an optimal performance threshold, WD was able to keep drive recovery time from idle mode to less than one second for seamless power management between the drive and the host controller.

So, for a whole range of organizations from large data centers and web service providers to commercial grade surveillance systems and organizations requiring huge amounts of storage will find the cost-reducing, more environmentally friendly storage solution they are looking for in our WD RE-GP enterprise-class drives with GreenPower technology. Maybe not as noble as saving the planet, but saving money feels good too. We certainly invite companies interested in reducing their overall storage energy consumption and power costs to investigate new green storage options at:

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