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Quantitative Analysis of Disk Drive Power Management in Portable Computers

Kester Li, Roger Kumpf, Paul Horton, and Thomas Anderson

Computer Science Division
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720


With the advent and subsequent popularity of portable computers, power management of system components has become an important issue. Current portable computers implement a number of power reduction techniques to achieve a longer battery life. Included among these is spinning down a disk during long periods of inactivity. In this paper, we perform a quantitative analysis of the potential costs and benefits of spinning down the disk drive as a power reduction technique. Our conclusion is that almost all the energy consumed by a disk drive can be eliminated with little loss in performance. Although on current hardware, reliability can be impacted by our policies, the next generation of disk drives will use technology (such as dynamic head loading) which is virtually unaffected by repeated spinups. We found that the optimal spindown delay time, the amount of time the disk idles before it is spun down, is 2 seconds. This differs significantly from the 3-5 minutes in current practice by industry. We will show in this paper the effect of varying the spindown delay on power consumption; one conclusion is that a 3-5 minute delay results in only half of the potential benefit of spinning down a disk.

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