10 April 2011

Welcome the Samsung F4 EcoGreen 2TB drive.

With so much flap and panic (I nearly wrote something else there for ‘flap’ that would be an alliteration with ‘panic’) in various discussion groups and forums and blogs, et flippin’ cetera, I was wondering what to do about the upsizing hard drive I use. So far it has been an ‘unmodified’ WD20EARS. On an early one or two (possibly even my own) I used its cousin the WD20EADS, to very great effect. They are cool and quiet, so quiet above the deafening roar of the cooling fan (dramatic overstatement for the sake of humour - keep up) that I always assumed the things just turned off like the EADS version. It could be they have been spinning away merrily all the time! I was convinced they were shutting down after brief back-up activity and think may be now they don’t!!

However, because of the modified fan and the big air-hole in the case blowing cooling zephyrs through the freshly rebuilt power supply... even if the drive is running all the time there seems to be little extra heat to remove.

Back in my Intel days (Swindon - UK HQ Repair Centre) I was one of those lucky enough to get to repair anything that came through the door. Leading edge technology like the BRAND NEW 80286 in all its glory, magnetic bubble memory units up to a staggering 1 megabit (occupying a whole 2x multi-bus cards), 20MByte hard drives like washing machines with voice coils to move the heads in and out, that would make the whole case wobble across the floor until, the cables were tight! For my part I used to fix ICE85 units and Series II development systems. The development systems were built on a grand scale, with linear power supplies that easily weighed 10kg and made light go dim when you turned them on. The wonder of the twin floppy-disk drives and their huge cables that linked onto the two multi-bus cards that occupied the lower slots in the chassis, was something that is frankly hard to believe today. Each floppy drive was a Shugart unit that could take a vast 8-inch disk. You just NEVER see these things, and for a good reason. The drives were the size of a builders wall block (I’m not kidding) and had a large motor that drove the spindle via a thin rubber belt (probably neoprene or some such). These motors ran all the time, they never shut down, even if the disc drive was not being used. If the disk was in and the large door closed, it would clamp the centre of the floppy and spin in continuously in the fixed outer sleeve, which was lined in something technical and sexy like furry PTFE or Kevlar! The disks would simply get a bit shiny and carried on working. The capacity of these huge disks, which were not far removed from the present size of the iPad2? 128kB, yes that is a ‘k’. 128000 bytes. Access times of 20ms were the norm. You could go for double sided and get 256kB and with two of these, doubled up it was possible to get a ’tower’ of Series II with two lots of double drives, one on top of the other, this was almost 6 feet high and on a table top could easily reach ceiling height! You would need a step-stool to reach the top disks! The capacity of this lot? Just over 1 megabyte! The mind would boggle at the wonder of it. This was in 1980.

So keeping a namby pamby 3.5 inch hard drive running all the time, all clean and sealed and made with precision bearings... no problem!

Enough waffle, I digress... I have switched to the Samsung F4 EcoGreen 2TB drive.

My ‘test’ TC has just backed up 175GB from my iMac and got only slightly warm. When it is not accessed the drive stops spinning! Hooray, 31 years later and we have made progress!

2x TCs to do tomorrow and a whole lot of house rebuilding... my muscles shudder in anticipation... :-)

Change of hard drive for the upsizing

The ongoing hoo-har with the Western Digital 2TB replacement drives is driving me mad!

There is an issue, apparently, where the drive once up to speed, stays there and never seems to turn off. My unit from a year ago when I started this upsizing, seems to spin down after 30 seconds or so... so I thought. It may actually be spinning but the heads being stationary and seeking nothing make none of the usually death-watch beetle noises we have grown to love and rely on. The fact that my hard drive has been spinning away from over a year says a lot about how quiet it is and how WD have screwed up the green, energy saving specification that is close to my heart.

I have had a question from Tomasz who quite rightly quizzed me about the drive and these spin-down not happening stories and what was my take on it? Eh eh? Speak to us, oh wise guru! Put our fevered minds at rest!

Tests were made, confusion reigned, conclusions were that the situation was confusing, which did not surprise me.
I am not going to twat about with WD drives any more (NOTE: Engineering phrase used there) until they themselves can be straightforward with how these drives operate.

I have switched to the Samsung F4 EcoGreen 2TB drive. It comes with an excellent spec and 3 year warranty. We shall see.