Nathan Edwards

Jun 24, 2008

Western Digital Caviar GP

At A Glance

Save the Whales

You save electricity with this drive, which makes you feel like an environmentally conscious all-star.

Shave the Whales

You really arent saving that much energy, and youre sacrificing quite a bit of speed.

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for Western Digital’s entrance into the world of the almighty terabyte. Its Caviar GP drive may have lost the right to stand at the top of the market and yell, “Firsties!” but it is the only terabyte drive built with energy-savings in mind.

The four-platter drive features a number of functions that aim to reduce the drive’s total power consumption: The drive modulates its rotational speeds between 5,400rpm and 7,200rpm, unloads the heads when the drive is idle, and smooths out the normally jittery motions of the actuator in an attempt to minimize wasted juice.

It sounded like junk science to us too, until we compared the power-consumption levels of a Caviar GP–based rig to those of an identical setup that uses Hitachi’s 7K1000. A power analyzer confirmed that our Caviar GP rig drew from 7 to 10 fewer watts on average. For a computer that runs at idle all day long, that translates to about 61.32 kilowatt-hours per year. Assuming you’re paying roughly 10 cents per kilowatt hour, a Caviar GP could save you about $6 a year—just enough for a feast at Taco Bell.

The Caviar GP holds its own performance-wise. As expected, though, the drive’s emphasis on power-saving costs it a little bit in the speed department. Although improved areal density over Hitachi’s 7K1000 helps bridge the gap between the two drives, the Caviar GP still falls short of the 7K1000’s impressive read speeds. Of the three terabyte drives we’ve tested, the Caviar GP is the slowest by far.

Power Consumption
  WD Caviar GP
Hitachi 7K1000
Idle (W)
144 151
Burst (W)
147 152
Random Access (W)
149 180
Best scores are bolded. All voltage measurements taken using an Extech Power Analyzer.

Western Digital Caviar GP

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