Triple your data center’s storage capacity – without increasing power consumption or reducing performance. How?

Going for the green
Everyone talks about green, but in storage arrays it is the power consumption of the disks that dominates. A power-saving blade server buys you almost nothing compared to a few hundred disks.

That’s where WD’s RE4-GP 2TB drive comes in. According to WD the new green power drive performs almost as well as the 1 TB Black drive – Black being WD’s performance series.

The numbers are startling:

wd_re4-gp-2tb [courtesy WD]

With a 25KW power budget you can grow from 2.71 PB of high performance 1 TB drives to 9.35 PB of 2 TB green drives. Likewise you can reduce power consumption for the same capacity by over 2/3rds.

Pretty good.

WD’s Intellipower feature variessets rotational speed of the drive between 5400 and 7200 RPM “depending on what the best solution is for that model.” [Update:WD assures me that their rotational speed does not change. End update.] There’s a performance hit versus always full speed drives of course, but if power and cooling is an issue the modest tradeoff could be worth it.

Not entirely free
The new drive offers not only greater density – 500 GB per platter vs 333 for the older 1 TB – but also dual processors and a 64 MB cache. There are probably other optimizations in the drive electronics.

An OEM who is qual’ing the drives confirmed WD’s claim. Twice the capacity on a much lower power budget, with a 1.2 million hour MTBF and a 5 year warranty.

Of course, you’ll also cut your IOPS/TB in half. But if that is a critical success factor you’re probably not using 7200 RPM drives.

WD also plans to move into enterprise drives. They have a nice start with the 10k VelociRaptor, which is the system disk on the StorageMojo mainframe and a snappy performer. A nice upgrade from a 7200 RPM drive because it makes everything noticeably faster.

The StorageMojo take
As a marketing term of art, “green” is much abused. WD has hit upon a persuasive way to present the benefits of the underlying technology – and they deliver the goods.

Reducing power consumption will be a continuing trend as more data resides on disk. This helps disks compete against SSDs on the high end and tape on the low-end.

As Moore’s Law continues to drive micro-controller performance higher more clever – but compute intensive – optimizations will be implemented. WD seems to have the lead in the power arena today.

Power constrained data center managers everywhere will thank them.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Update: Stephen Foskett alerted me to the fact that the GP drives do NOT have a variable speed, and WD’s crack PR team – she never sleeps! – informed me that each drive model has a constant RPM depending the drive’s intended application. OK, whatever. End update.