Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hitachi Announces New Approach to Green Hard Drives

Hard drive manufacturers seem increasingly determined that their component not be the cause of serious draws on system power. Western Digital recently began shipping its Green Power line of hard drives. And now, the latest news comes from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which today announces new models that feature significant power consumption refinements.

Hitachi takes a very different approach towards power consumption as compared with its competitor. Hitachi's introduction is simply its latest line of one- and two-platter drives, the Deskstar P7K500. The drives have up to 250GB per platter, and are available in 250GB, 320GB, 400GB, and 500GB capacities, in either Parallel ATA or Serial ATA flavors.

Unlike WD, which varies the rotations-per-minute of its Green Power drive, the Hitachi drives maintain 7200rpm across the board. "7200 rpm is what our desktop customers want," says Lee Johnson, 3.5-inch product marketing manager at Hitachi. With regard to power consumption, "our specs are up to 59 percent better than the competition. We've reduced idel power by 40 percent as compared with our previous drives, the T7K500."

Johnson says that Energy Star 4.0 played a role in Hitachi's current push to reduce power consumption. The hard drive typically uses 7 watts of power-- about 14 percent of the overall system requirement for a an Energy Star-compliant PC. Reducing power consumption has other advantages, too--lower power translates into lower heat, which in turn translates into better drive reliability.

In order to achieve significant power savings, Hitachi made several technology changes. For one, it adopted the system-on-chip design from the Travelstar line of 2.5-inch notebook drives, which the company says are already characterized by their low power consumption.

In addition, Hitachi carries its HiVERT voltage regulation technology over from its notebook drives to its desktop drives. "We've improved efficiency by using switching regulators instead of linear regulators as we're converting the voltages down to those used by the electronic components," explains Jim Wong, senior product strategist at Hitachi. "In addition, with this new system-on-chip design, we also have a more power efficient core module for SATA and PATA interfaces."

The final component is Hitachi's sixth-generation approach to power management. Dubbed Advanced Power Management, this system uses load-unload technology, so the heads are unloaded from the disk when the drive is powered off. This process can provide up to 11 percent power savings in a single-platter drive design, and 15 percent power saving in a two-platter design. The other component of Advanced Power Management is referred to as low RPM idle: in this state, the heads are unloaded from disk and the rotational speed of the disk is slowed down to 5400rpm, resulting in up to a 44 percent power savings in the single-platter drive, and 52 percent savings in the two-platter product.

Johnson says Hitachi expects no performance hit on its power friendly hard drives. Instead, she says, she expects the P7K500 drives to be equal to or slightly better in performance to previous generation on desktop PCs.

"Eventually all of our drives will have the low power technologies in these drives," says Johnson.

The drives should be available in the fourth quarter of this year, with no price premium as compared to the current line of same-capacity drives. The MSRP for the P7K500 is $160.

src: http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/005740.html