Guide to Western Digital’s GreenPower hard drive technology

Western Digital’s release of its GreenPower hard drive technology signalled another significant move by a major manufacturer into the provision of ‘green’ or environmentally friendly hardware. The GreenPower drives were made available in desktop, enterprise, CE and external hard drive implementations in capacities from 320 GB upwards.

Western Digital’s claims are impressive: the boast power savings of 4-5 watts over competitors’ drives of similar sizes without suffering any degradation in performance. This 40% power saving, WD tells us, reduces CO2 omissions by 60kg over a year which is the equivalent of taking a car off the road for a fortnight. Naturally there is an associated cost benefit to the user, looking to be around $10/computer/year. Whilst this is small change to users with one or two machines around the home, the product’s savings may turn heads in enterprise applications where many hundreds of drives will be running constantly throughout the year.

A trio of technologies were claimed by Western Digital in the implementation of the GreenPower drives to achieve this power saving: IntelliPower, IntelliPark, and IntelliSeek.

IntelliPower describes the balance of spin speed, transfer rate and cache size. While this isn’t a new technology in itself Western Digital claim to have ‘found’ the optimum settings for each to ensure maximum energy efficiency without sacrificing speed. Interestingly Western Digital have chosen not to disclose the spin speed, transfer rate and cache size leaving critics questioning whether the reduction in power really meant a reduction in performance.

IntelliPark ‘parks’ inactive cylinder heads, and to reduce aerodynamic drag on the spinning platters. IntelliSeek calculates seek speeds to reduce power consumption, noise and vibration and optimise performance.

The first drive to sport the GreenPower label will be a version of Western Digital’s ‘Caviar’ 1TB drive, released Q4 2007.