The energy and heat-saving option for the company's AMS and WMS mid-range arrays will ship as a firmware upgrade next week, and will allow the disk drives storing entire data volumes to be entirely powered down when not in use.
Only a handful of suppliers have so far offered a spin-down option for their arrays, namely NEC, Fujitsu, and Nexsan, all of which are much smaller suppliers of external disk than Hitachi.
But those companies are far smaller than Hitachi, which is currently the fifth largest external disk maker on the market, according to IDC's most recent estimates.
Hitachi's director of product marketing Kevin Sampson said that an entire RAID group can be woken up and ready for reading or writing action in under ten seconds.
That still rules out sleep for most applications, but Hitachi is aiming the option at backup or archiving, where data is only accessed periodically or infrequently, and drives are likely to be inactive for the majority of the time. The company estimates that it can cut power and cooling by 20%, and said that its sleeping drives will draw no current at all.
Unlike some array makers that have adopted the sleepy drive option, Hitachi is not attaching the MAID label to the AMS or WMS.
There's an implication in the MAID label that only some of the disks are spinning at any one time. But we're giving customers complete flexibility with the AMS and WMS. If they want 100% of the drives running all the time, they can have that, Sampson said.
There is no official definition of MAID - massive array of idle disks - but the term is usually applied to a concept involving very large disk arrays that never run more than a minority of their disk drives, and is intended to provide high density, low power consumption archival or backup storage. The only supplier that has designed a box specifically for this purpose is start-up Copan Systems.
Hitachi said the firmware update will ensure that sleeping drives are re-activated periodically and spun-up to complete data integrity checks for magnetic bit-rot or decay.
There is no plan to offer the facility on Hitachi's flagship UPS array, because that device has no option for cheaper SATA drives, and so is not a good target for backup and archive data.
Hitachi said the sleep option will not be free, and will be offered with consultancy or services designed to instruct customers on how best to the option. We'll be strongly recommending that customers take those services, Sampson said.
Hitachi also announced the availability of the 750GB SATA drives for the AMS and WMS, and pointed that the use of this latest generation of jumbo disk drive is another way to save power for operators looking to reign in power and cooling costs. Because they draw the same amount of power as smaller SATA drives, the 750GB devices off an improved GB/kW ratio.
But because there is SATA option for the UPS, owners of that box cannot take that route to power savings.Will this situation ever change? We're watching the situation and if there is customer demand, then we will respond, Sampson said.