Thermal issues in disk drive design: Challenges and possible solutions

Sudhanva Gurumurthi, Anand Sivasubramaniam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The importance of pushing the performance envelope of disk drives continues to grow in the enterprise storage market. One of the most fundamental factors impacting disk drive design is heat dissipation, since it directly affects drive reliability. Until now, drive manufacturers have continued to meet the 40% annual growth target of the internal data-rates (IDR) by increasing RPMs and shrinking platter sizes, both of which have counteracting effects on the heat dissipation within a drive. In this article, we shall show that we are getting to a point where it is going to be very difficult to stay on this roadmap. We first present detailed models that capture the close relationships between capacity, performance, and thermal characteristics over time. Using these models, we quantify the drop-off in IDR growth rates over the next decade if we are to adhere to the thermal design envelope. We motivate the need for continued improvements in IDR by showing that the response times of real workloads can be improved by 30-60% with a 10K increase in the RPM for disks used in their respective storage systems. We then present two dynamic thermal management (DTM) techniques that can be used to buy back some of this IDR loss. The first DTM technique exploits the thermal slack between what the drive was intended to support and the currently lower operating temperature to ramp up the RPM. The second DTM technique assumes that the drive is only designed for average case operation and dynamically throttles its activities to remain within the thermal envelope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-73
Number of pages33
JournalACM Transactions on Storage
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hardware and Architecture


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