Something triggered my thoughts a few days ago. A few of us got together talking about climate change and a friend asked how green was the datacenter in IT. With cloud computing booming, I would say that green computing isn’t really the hottest thing at present. That in turn, leads us to one of the most voracious energy beasts in the datacenter, storage. Where is green storage in the equation?
What is green?
Over the past decade, several storage related technologies were touted as more energy efficient. These include
- Tape – when tapes are offline, they do not consume power and do not require cooling
- Virtualization – Virtualization reduces the number of servers and desktops, and of course storage too
- MAID (Massive Array of Independent Disks) – the arrays spin down the HDDs if idle for a period of time
- SSD (Solid State Drives) – Compared to HDDs, SSDs consume much less power, and overall reduce the cooling needs
- Data Footprint Reduction – Deduplication, compression and other technologies to reduce copies of data
- SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) Drives – Higher areal density means less drives but limited by physics.
The largest gorilla in storage technology
HDDs still dominate the market and they are the biggest producers of heat and vibration in a storage array, along with the redundant power supplies and fans. Until and unless SSDs dominate, we have to live with the fact that storage disk drives are not green. The statistics from Statistica below forecasts that in 2021, the shipment of SSDs will surpass HDDs.
Today the areal density of HDDs have increased. With SMR (shingled magnetic recording), the areal density jumped about 25% more than the 1Tb/inch (Terabit per inch) in the CMR (conventional magnetic recording) drives. The largest SMR in the market today is 16TB from Seagate with 18TB SMR in the horizon. That capacity is going to grow significantly when EAMR (energy assisted magnetic recording) – which counts heat assisted and microwave assisted – drives enter the market next year. The areal density will grow to 1.6Tb/inch with a roadmap to 4.0Tb/inch. Continue reading