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WD Caviar & RE2 GreenPower 1TB HDs
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Date: Mar 24, 2008
Section:Storage
Author: Shane Unrein
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Introduction, Specs and Features

We wish the current "green" trend would have happened a long time ago, and we actually hope that it results in a permanent mentality adjustment rather than fading like so many trends do. We are happy to see that companies are now expected to be somewhat environmentally-conscious. We love to see companies compete on metrics like performance per watt and we know we aren't the only ones who have an affinity for new architectures and designs that result in both efficiency improvements and performance gains. It wasn't so long ago that efficiency and performance were almost always inversely related. In the end, we (including the planet itself) all benefit when people and companies try to be more green.

However, we know you didn't come here to read just about recycling, carbon footprints or hugging trees, so we'll move on to the topic of this review. Many PC hardware manufacturers are taking steps to become greener or at least help their customers green up, and Western Digital (WD) is one such company. You might wonder how a storage company like WD can do that. Well, it's quite simple really: they offer a whole line of hard drives that use significantly less power than other drives on the market. WD gives the drives in this line the "GreenPower" label to indicate their reduced environmental impact. The nice thing about going green in this case is that the power reduction could lead to lower electricity bills. According to WD, "WD’s GreenPower platform is the first 3.5-inch hard drive platform designed with power savings as the primary attribute. GreenPower drives from WD deliver average drive power savings of 4-5 watts over competitors’ drives, ultra-cool, quiet operation and solid performance."

We are fortunate enough to have two of WD's GreenPower drives, the 1TB Caviar GP and the 1TB RE2-GP, on the test bench for this article. With its high MTBF (mean time between failures) rating of 1.2 million hours and RAID-specific optimizations, the WD RE2-GP is aimed at the enterprise market, while the WD Caviar GP is marketed towards the consumer desktop segment. A very interesting feature of the GreenPower drives is IntelliPower, which is a "fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance" according to WD. What this means to potential users is that WD isn't telling us the exact spindle speed of these drives. We know that they are likely spinning at a speed between 5400 and 7200 RPM and that each GreenPower model may use a different, invariable RPM. So, while WD made power the priority with the GreenPower platform, it did so without disregarding solid performance, a wise choice in our opinion.

In addition to IntelliPower, the Caviar GP and the RE2-GP feature perpendicular recording technology and some unique WD features, such as IntelliSeek (which tweaks seek rates to decrease power utilization, noise and vibration) and IntelliPark (which also helps decrease power utilization). Because of its likely home in a large, enterprise-level storage environment, the RE2-GP also sports WD's RAFF (Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward) technology. RAFF's intent is to ensure that RE2-GP drives operate optimally even when installed in rackmounted servers that are prone to high levels of vibration. To many of you, these features don't mean much if performance gets sacrificed along the way, and the enthusiast in us has to agree. On the following pages, we'll see how well both of these GreenPower drives perform in an assortment of benchmarks.

Western Digital GreenPower 1TB SATA HDDs
Specifications & Features
WD Caviar GP 1TB (MODEL: WD10EACS)
PHYSICAL SPECS

Capacity: 1 TB (1000 GB)
Interface: SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed: N/A
Cache Buffer: 16 MB
Number Of Platters: 4 (250 GB each)
Bytes Per Sector: 512
Height: 26.1 mm (Max)
Length: 147 mm (Max)
Width: 101.6 mm
Weight: 0.73 kg

PERFORMANCE SPECS
Seek Times
Average Read (msec): 8.9
Average Write (msec): N/A

Latency

Average Latency (msec): 5.6

Transfer Rate

Buffer To Disk (Mb/s): 1156
Sustained to Disk (Mb/s): N/A

Acoustics

Idle Mode (dBA): 25 (average)
Seek Mode (dBA): 25-27 (average)

Power Consumption

Read/Write: 7.50 Watts
Idle: 4.0 Watts
Standby: 0.97 Watts

WARRANTY LENGTH
3 Years

FEATURES
  • IntelliPower™ — A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance. For each GreenPower™ drive model, WD may use a different, invariable RPM.
  • IntelliSeek™ — Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration.
  • IntelliPark™ — Delivers lower power consumption by automatically unloading the heads during idle to reduce aerodynamic drag.
  • StableTrac™ — Secures the motor shaft at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations (750 GB and 1 TB models only).
  • Preemptive Wear Leveling (PWL) — Proactively monitors and prevents magnetic wear during high read/write duty cycle applications.
  • Large capacity — Up to 1 TB of storage—ideal for graphic design, video editing, gaming, advanced business computing, and other high-end desktop applications.

  WD RE2-GP 1TB (MODEL: WD1000FYPS)
PHYSICAL SPECS

Capacity: 1 TB (1000 GB)
Interface: SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed: N/A
Cache Buffer: 16 MB
Number Of Platters: 4 (250 GB each)
Bytes Per Sector: 512
Height: 26.1 mm (Max)
Length: 147 mm (Max)
Width: 101.6 mm
Weight: 0.73 kg

PERFORMANCE SPECS
Seek Times
Average Read (msec): 8.9
Average Write (msec): N/A

Latency

Average Latency (msec): N/A

Transfer Rate

Buffer To Disk (Mb/s): N/A
Sustained to Disk (Mb/s): 672

Acoustics

Idle Mode (dBA): 24 (average)
Seek Mode (dBA): 25-29 (average)

Power Consumption

Read/Write: 7.40 Watts
Idle: 4.0 Watts
Standby: 0.97 Watts

WARRANTY LENGTH
5 Years

FEATURES
  • IntelliPower™ — A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate, and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance. Additionally, GreenPower drives consume less current during start up allowing more drives to spin up simultaneously resulting in faster system readiness.
  • IntelliSeek™ — Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower unnecessary power consumption, noise, and vibration.
  • IntelliPark™ — Delivers lower power consumption by automatically unloading recording heads during idle to reduce aerodynamic drag and disengages read/write electronics.
  • Active Power Management – WD GreenPower drives monitor work load and automatically invoke idle mode whenever possible to further reduce unnecessary power consumption. Drive recovery time from idle mode is less than one second, providing seamless power management between the drive and the host controller.
  • StableTrac™ — Secures the motor shaft at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations (750 GB and 1 TB models only).
  • RAID-specific time-limited error recovery (TLER) — Pioneered by WD, this feature prevents drive fallout caused by the extended hard drive error-recovery processes common to desktop drives.
  • Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF™) optimizes operation and performance when the drives are used in vibration-prone multi-drive systems such as rackmounted servers.
  • 1.2 million hours MTBF — The highest available reliability rating on a high-capacity drive.


The physical appearance of the WD Caviar GP and RE2-GP is 99% identical, as you can see in the three images above. Besides some of text and bar coding, the drives look the same. Both sport a big, green GreenPower label to let you know that these drives will help you reduce power consumption. The two drives also feature the same connectors: one SATA power connector and one SATA data connector.


In addition to the connectors, both drives sport a set of eight pins that can be jumpered to change the drive's configuration. The close-up of the label above shows you the three jumper settings: jumpering pins 1 and 2 enables SSC (Spread Spectrum Clocking), jumpering pins 3 and 4 enables PUIS (Power Up In Standby), and jumpering pins 5 and 6 enables 1.5GB PHY.

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Test System and HD Tach Test Results

When testing the WD Caviar GP and RE2-GP terabyte SATA hard drives, we used an Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz) on an Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI motherboard. We also used 2GB of Corsair DDR2 (TWIN2X1024A-5400UL) and a 120GB Maxtor SATA hard drive as the main system drive. The 1TB WD Caviar GP and 1TB RE2-GP were compared to a 1TB Seagate Barracuda ES.2, 750GB Seagate 7200.10, a 750GB Western Digital Caviar SE16, a 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16, and a 74GB Western Digital Raptor.

HotHardware Test System
Intel C2D Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz)

Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI
nForce 650i SLI chipset

Gigabyte 8800 GT 

2048MB Corsair XMS2 DDR2-675MHz
CAS 4

Integrated on board

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9

120GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 1.5Gb/s

Western Digital Caviar GP WD10EACS
1TB - N/A RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital RE2-GP WD1000FYPS
1TB - N/A RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Seagate Barracuda ES.2
1TB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
750GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS
500GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS
750GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Raptor 74GB
74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA 1.5Gb/s

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows Vista
nForce Drivers v8.43
DirectX 10

NVIDIA ForceWare v169.25


Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach 3.0.1.0
HD Tune 2.54
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1


We began our testing with Simpli Software's HD Tach, which is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible."

HD Tach 3.0.1.0
http://www.simplisoftware.com/

Right off the bat, we are impressed by both of these GreenPower drives, especially considering their sub-7200 RPM spindle speeds. Thanks to big platters and some internal tweaking by WD, the Caviar GP and the RE2-GP put up Average Read and Average Write scores that are very respectable when compared to the 7200 RPM and 10k RPM drives listed in the charts. There must be some additional performance tweaks in the RE2-GP as it manages to edge out its Caviar cousin.

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HD Tune Test Results

HD Tune 2.54
http://www.hdtune.com/

The 1TB GreenPower drives can't compete with the 1TB 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda ES.2 in HD Tune, but they do manage to hang quite well with (and sometimes beat) the other drives in our testing. The random access times of the Caviar GP and RE2-GP were the two slowest of the bunch, but we are still impressed by these energy-conscious drives so far. We should also note that the RE2-GP once again nudges past the Caviar GP.

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PCMark Vantage Test Results

Next up is PCMark Vantage from FutureMark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all the drives we tested. Feel free to consult Futuremark's white paper on PCMark Vantage for an understanding of what each test component entails and how it calculates its measurements.

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com

For the overall PCMark Vantage HDD score, the 1TB Caviar GP and RE2-GP manage to post the two lowest scores, although not necessarily by a wide margin. In the three individual tests shown above, the two GreenPower drives are in the bottom two or bottom three in terms of performance each time, with the Caviar GP once again falling behind the RE2-GP.

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PCMark Vantage Test Results (continued)

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage (continued)
http://www.futuremark.com

In the Windows Vista Startup and Windows Media Center tests, the GreenPower drives fill the two last spots again, but in the Video Editing and Adding Music tests, the drives put up good enough numbers to beat out some of the other drives.

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Sandra XII SP1 Test Results

For our Sandra XII SP1 testing, we ran two sets of tests: Physical Disk and File System. We ran the Physical Disk tests before formatting the test drives, but we had to format the drives in order to run the File System tests. The results from this testing can be seen on this and the following page.

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1
http://www.sisoftware.net

While the 1TB Caviar GP and RE2-GP manage to hit around 55 MB/s in both of Sandra's Physical Disk tests, they still couldn't reach the performance of the other drives (other than the 500GB Caviar SE16). Their direct competitor size-wise, the 1TB Barracuda ES.2, outperforms them by a large margin. Somehow though, the RE2-GP nails the Write Access Time score with a 2 ms result, beating the rest of the pack.

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Sandra XII SP1 Test Results (continued)

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1 (continued)
http://www.sisoftware.net

The Sandra File System tests tell a different story than the Physical Disk tests. Here the 1TB GreenPower drives actually manage to slap some of the other drives around a bit. The Read results show the 1TB Caviar GP and RE2-GP outperforming both the WD Caviar SE16 500GB drive and the WD Raptor 74GB drive. The Write results aren't quite as clear cut, but if we look at all three Write scores, it's clear that the Caviar GP and RE2-GP are easily two of the best drives in the bunch in these tests.

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Power Consumption

Considering the "green" angle of these GreenPower drives, it wouldn't be prudent for us to end this article without some power consumption measurements. We used a P3 Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor in order to get some idea of how much less power the GreenPower drives require compared to the other 1TB drive we tested in this review, the Seagate Barracuda ES.2. We used the P3 Kill-A-Watt to measure total system power consumption at idle and at load (which consisted of running some intense disk benchmarks).

Power Consumption
As Reported by P3 Kill-A-Watt in Watts; Lower is "Greener"

When we compared the 1TB Seagate Barracuda ES.2's specifications to these two 1TB GreenPower drives, we noticed that the 1TB ES.2 requires about four more Watts of power for both idle and seek modes. With this information in mind, we weren't surprised to see how the power consumption results with the 1TB Caviar GP installed compared to those of the 1TB ES.2. The system pulled four less Watts during load and five less Watts at idle with the Caviar GP installed versus the ES.2. What surprised us was that the system used even less power when the 1TB RE2-GP was tested.

We realize that in the big scheme of things 5-10 Watts may not matter to many people, but you have to keep in mind that the RE2-GP is intended for large data servers. The power savings, and resulting cost savings, can really add up in a data center with hundreds of drives running 24/7 for a whole year.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Despite their sub-7200 RPM spindle speeds, Western Digital's GreenPower drives proved they can hang with, and even beat, some respectable 7200 RPM drives (and a 10k RPM drive for that matter) in many tests. The drives offer solid performance despite their reduced power consumption and low noise levels. 


In the end, does Western Digital's GreenPower line really help the environment? From what we've seen so far, the answer seems to be "yes." Not only do the 1TB Caviar GP and RE2-GP offer good performance, but they also require less energy (at idle and during read/write operations) and generate less noise than most of the other 3.5" SATA desktop/server drives on the market. WD created a winning formula with the GreenPower platform. We would obviously love to see even better performance from the drives in future revision, but can't complain about the level of performance provided.

We're glad to see innovations like these, where one aspect of a product is enhanced (power in this case) without severely compromising something else that is important (performance in this case). The big CPU and GPU companies are already battling on this front, so it's nice to see a hard drive company jump in with the same idea and take the lead. We think it is great to see innovation that truly has a positive impact.

Backing these drives is a 3-year warranty for the Caviar GP and a 5-year warranty for the RE2-GP. We of course wish the Caviar GP also had a 5-year warranty, but three years at least matches the current industry standard for consumer-level drives. Recall that the Caviar GP is a consumer desktop drive, while the RE2-GP is designed for more demanding server environments. Just in case you want to figure out how much money can be saved by deploying RE2-GP drives in your company's server environment, WD created a handy money savings calculator on its web site.

Speaking of money, you must be wondering how much these two huge drives cost. The 1TB Caviar GP currently costs about $230, and the 1TB RE2-GP runs about $250, according to our PriceGrabber search engine at the time of this writing. These prices are fair, as they fall in line with or are lower than the prices of other 1TB drives on the market.

WD Caviar GP 1TB SATA HDD

If you need massive storage but don't need the absolute best performance and want to decrease your electricity usage, we highly recommend the 1TB WD Caviar GP.


•  BIG capacity
•  Relatively low power consumption
•  Low noise level
•  3-year warranty
•  Not a 5-year warranty
•  Lower performance than other 1TB drives



WD RE2-GP 1TB SATA HDD

For energy-conscious server builds, we recommend you consider the WD RE2-GP line of drives.


 

•  BIG capacity
•  Relatively low power consumption
•  Low noise level
•  5-year warranty
•  Lower performance than other 1TB drives

 



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