For the computer industry, green is not only the color of money but also the color for a newly fashionable energy-efficiency. On Monday, Western Digital announced a new line of GreenPower hard drives, which the company said can save up to 40 percent in power consumption over earlier models.
The Lake Forest, California-based company said the Energy Star 4.0 efficiency for each drive will translate into a savings of about $10 per year. While that amount might seem no more than a pixel's worth of green, in volume it can add up.
In announcing the new drives, Western Digital President and CEO John Coyne called attention to the twin advantages of green computing, saying that the new drives improve "the environment while reducing cost of ownership."
Removing 400 Cars
The company pointed out that a data center with 10,000 drives can save $100,000 in annual energy costs, and can reduce carbon dioxide emission by 600 metric tons a year. For those who measure emissions in terms of cars, that's the equivalent of taking 400 gasoline-based cars off the road for a year. For just one hard drive, the emissions reduction is equal to taking one off the road for 14 days each year, according to the company.
Other terabyte drives typically require 13.5 watts, the company said, but its GreenPower drives can reduce that by more than 5 watts. With a lower power requirement comes a corresponding reduction in heat, another consideration for data centers.
The new drives range in size from 320 GB to 1 TB, in desktop, enterprise, consumer electronics, and external formats. The first in the line is called the Caviar GP. A 1-TB Caviar drive, part of Western Digital's My Book line of storage appliances, will ship this month. Desktop versions will be out in August.
The GreenPower drives are based on several branded, technical innovations touted by Western Digital. The company's IntelliPower technology is designed to maintain a "fine-tuned balance" between spin speed, transfer rate, and cache size, optimized for both power and performance. IntelliPark automatically unloads the drive's heads during idle times, reducing aerodynamic drag and power consumption. And IntelliSeek determines the best seek speeds for lowering power requirements, noise, and vibration.
'Seize the Green'
Green computing is becoming a popular trend with computer manufacturers, component providers, and software companies. In June, Google and Intel announced the Climate Savers Computing Initiative with the goal being to meet and then surpass the EPA's Energy Star guidelines for energy-efficient devices.
The initiative's members, including Microsoft, Lenovo, Yahoo, HP, and AMD, committed to purchasing high-efficiency desktop PCs and servers. In addition, Dell and other companies have individually pledged to follow energy-efficient, waste-sensitive initiatives.
"Computer manufacturers and components providers are taking the initiative to 'seize the green,'" said Mark Margevicius, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner. "Being green," he added, "is always cool," but now it can be done at a price point at or below existing levels.
Reducing power and heat is a big economic incentive to being green, he noted. The primary issue for failures in PCs, he said, are "processes related to heat."