Western Digital Caught Misrepresenting HDD RPM Speeds, Too

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Picture credit score: Christaan Colen/Flickr

Earlier this yr, Western Digital acquired caught mendacity by omission when it got here to disclosing that sure drives used shingled magnetic recording (SMR) as an alternative of typical magnetic recording (CMR). Now, the corporate has been caught misrepresenting how briskly sure onerous drives spin — and attempting to weasel out of it as regards to a advertising and marketing declare that doesn’t imply what it used to.

Apparently, fanatics have been attempting to show Western Digital onerous drives spin on the improper velocity for greater than a yr. Whereas WD Purple drives are listed as “5400 RPM class” in Western Digital’s literature, the drives really spin quicker than that, at 7200 RPM. This may appear to be a non-issue, provided that prospects instantly profit from having a 7200 RPM drive. However a 5400 RPM drive and a 7200 RPM drive will not be routinely fungible: 7200 RPM drives draw extra energy and dissipate extra warmth than a 5400 RPM drive. 7200 RPM drives are additionally noisier than 5400 RPM merchandise.

How do you inform if a drive is spinning at 7200 RPM? You analyze its acoustic signature. Redditor DataHoarder writes:

The direct approach to measure rotational velocity is by way of the acoustic frequency profile. When you’ve got a disk spinning at 7200 RPM (7200/minute = 120/second = 120Hz) then ensuing vibrations shall be at this base frequency or integer multiples (overtones) of it (120Hz, 240Hz, 360Hz, …). For 5400 RPM this is able to be multiples of 90Hz as an alternative (180Hz, 270Hz, 360Hz, …).

This has been completed and the outcomes verify that these WD Purple drives are spinning at 7200 RPM, not 5400 RPM.

This acoustic plot is from a WD80EMAZ-00WJTA0 drive inside a WD Components 8TB SSD. The caption from Imgur states: “This drive is marketed as 5400 rpm and even reviews as such by way of SMART, however the frequencies right here clearly point out 7200 rpm!”

Ars Technica contacted WD and requested them about these discrepancies. Right here’s the corporate’s response:

For choose merchandise, Western Digital has printed RPM velocity inside a “class” or “efficiency class” for quite a few years moderately than publishing particular spindle speeds. We additionally fine-tune choose onerous drive platforms and the associated HDD traits to create a number of totally different variations of such platforms to satisfy totally different market or utility wants. By doing so, we’re capable of leverage our economies of scale and move alongside these financial savings to our prospects. As with each Western Digital product, our product particulars, which embody energy, acoustics and efficiency (information switch charge), are examined to satisfy the specs supplied on the product’s information sheet and advertising and marketing collateral.

That is disingenuous. I keep in mind when WD began introducing “efficiency class” drives. It wasn’t a approach to secretly ship 7200 RPM drives with out telling anyone. These drives really spun a bit under 5400 RPM if I keep in mind appropriately, within the identify of conserving energy. The WD Inexperienced may very well have been the drive to introduce this characteristic/nomenclature, and it wasn’t one thing WD used to secretly enhance efficiency. If a drive marketed at 5400 RPM really spins at 7200 RPM, what’s the distinction between 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drives? I’m pretty sure WD isn’t transport 10Ok onerous drives in 7200 RPM packaging.

Telling prospects you’re promoting them a 5400 RPM drive when it’s really a 7200 RPM drive may trigger issues if the {hardware} that drive is meant for can’t dissipate the extra warmth or present sufficient energy. Whereas this is probably not a priority for a majority of customers, it’s additionally not the primary time we’ve seen dishonest conduct from Western Digital. That is the second time in a yr that the corporate has misrepresented the {hardware} that it’s transport to prospects. True, on this case, the scenario arguably breaks within the buyer’s favor — however that doesn’t make it a good suggestion for firms to play quick and free with specs. The phrase “efficiency class” used to imply one thing distinctly totally different than it apparently does now, and Western Digital by no means bothered to inform anybody it was altering the which means of the time period.

The massive distinction between this case and the SMR incident is that on this case, everybody exterior the small group of people that may need {hardware} issues from operating a 7200 RPM drive in a 5400 RPM enclosure/chassis is arguably being helped. Regardless, Western Digital’s place on this matter is something however exemplary. The custom of breaking the onerous drive market up by spindle velocity is actually a long time previous, and Western Digital helps nobody when it performs video games like this. Simply because one thing isn’t actively harming prospects for the time being doesn’t make it a terrific concept, and being dishonest on bundle labeling isn’t serving to, both. There are extra particulars on the subject on the Reddit thread above, together with a selected checklist of affected fashions (all 8TB or greater).

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