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Western Digital Unveils Green Hard-Drive Line

GreenPower drives could save a data center $100,000 in annual energy costs and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 600 metric tons.
Western Digital on Monday introduced a line of environmentally friendly hard drives that are expected to span the company's desktop, enterprise, and consumer electronic products.

The GreenPower family will ship in capacities from 320 Gbytes to 1 terabyte and will use 40% less energy than other similar products, Western Digital said. The first GreenPower product, the WD Caviar GP, is an external drive scheduled to ship this month.

A desktop version of the 3.5-inch Caviar hard drive is scheduled to ship in August. GreenPower versions of Western Digital's SATA hard drives for the enterprise and its consumer electronics drives for digital video recorders, set-top boxes, and other devices are also set for release this quarter.

Western Digital estimates that its new green drives can shave off $10 per drive, per year in electricity costs. For example, the 1-terabyte GreenPower hard drive uses about 5 watts less power than drives of the same size, which typically consume 13.5 watts.

Extending the math further, a data center with 10,000 drives can save $100,000 in annual energy costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 600 metric tons, the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road for a year, according to Western Digital.

New power-saving technologies in the GreenPower line include automatic unloading of the heads during idle to reduce aerodynamic drag. In addition, the drives calculate the optimum seek speed in order to use only the amount of power that's needed. The new drives also have a better balance between spin and cache speed and transfer rate.

All segments of the hardware industry today are launching green initiatives because of the demand by customers to reduce rising energy costs. In the hard-drive industry, cheaper-running products could translate into better sales in a segment where competition is particularly strong.

In June, Western Digital said it planned to acquire Komag, one of its last U.S. rivals, for about $1 billion in cash. The proposed acquisition was a reflection of increasing competition in a highly commoditized market.