We've unfortuntately received no response thus far from IBM regarding the Deskstar 120GXP's power-on recommendation of 333 hours per month. In the meantime, we'd like to share with readers a conversation between IBM and a longtime SR community participant:
I wanted to find out more about the 120GXP in regards to the 333 recommended power on hours so I spoke with IBM today. I didn't record the conversation, but below is the gist of the conversation. The sentences are not identical direct quotes, but they should be identical in meaning. Things might also things might be slightly out of order for the sake of continuity.
Q: Would you recommend this drive in a server role?
A: No, the drive is intended to be on for no more than about 8 hours a day. If it were only used during that period and then shut down for the day, then it would be fine, but it definitely should NOT be used in a 24/7 role for those customers concerned with reliability.
Q: This spec is new with the 120GXP series, not other manufactures have used this specification. Was this spec introduced as a marketing strategy or a technical issue?
A: It's definitely a technical issue.
Q: Does the recommended power on hours have anything to do with "pixie dust" drives?
A: Well, we are certainly working to improve the pixie dust technology. Each drive generation has gotten better than the previous.
Q: Is this in response to the 75GXP reliability problems?
A: We aren't allowed to comment on that, but if you know what's going on with that, you will understand why.
Q: You mean the lawsuit on the reliability of 75GXP drives?
Q: So have there been as many failures with the 120GXP as the 75GXP?
A: Not at all, In fact, I haven't heard of any 120GXP failures yet.
Q: Back to this recommendation of power on hours, why did IBM introduce it?
A: We want our customers to know that IBM drives are reliable and we are working to make our drives more reliable. One way to show this is to inform the customers of what usage is appropriate for the drive. Limiting the power on hours should significantly reduce failures.
Q: Will this power on hours spec become involved with the warranty in future drives?
A: Probably not. Right now, this spec is a response specific to the GXP series. We may not even specify this spec in the future.
There were other things said, but above is as much as I can faithfully remember of the conversation. Interesting note: 333 hours comes 11 hours a day, yet according to this IBM person, the senior tech person said 8 hours a day (which is only 240hrs/month)--some 33% of the originally specified 46%.
It's clear that our recommendation of the Deskstar 120GXP for server uses is misguiding since servers usually must remain up 24 hours a day. As a result, our recommendation for a server-oriented ATA drive falls back upon Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus D740X while the Western Digital WD1200BB (and especially the WD1200JB) remain the best all-around ATA units. We've added an addendum to the 120GXP article explaining the decision.
Well well well… our post of a reader’s conversation with an IBM tech has certainly reverberated across the community far more than we anticipated and intended. Feedback on the issue has poured in from all sides.
Allow me to take a moment to point out that StorageReview.com historically has rarely if ever commented directly on reliability issues. The fact is that we simply don’t possess the resources to accurately investigate reliability reports and that we don’t want relatively vague comments on reliability to dilute other more exhaustive and precise measures… the care that goes into our performance suites, for example. Case in point, we haven’t had anything to say one way or another on the alleged problems of the Deskstar 75GXP; though in the past we’ve been inundated with traffic from large sites citing “SR comments,” they invariably were actually links to various participants in our discussion forums.
That said, it’s important to note that March 6th’s headline may have stepped beyond SR’s self-imposed bounds. We regard the front page as sort of an informal way to publish the latest in news, reviews, etc. Blurbs contained within are not to be regarded as “canon” in any way. The posted transcript summarized a conversation between a long-term SR community member and an IBM tech. For obvious reasons, both persons remain anonymous.
After witnessing the fallout of the post, however, it became clear that we shouldn’t be so “fast and loose” with FP blurbs and resolved to discontinue what was becoming “rolling commentary” of sorts on the 120GXP. With some merit, IBM points out that we not only allowed one side to get the “last word,” we allowed that side to also have the only word.
IBM claims that, contrary to what we stated on the 6th, they did get back to us in a timely manner via e-mail. We’ve run into mail problems several times in the past so we have little reason not to believe them. A spokeswoman has this to say:
Regarding the conversation between the storagereview reader and the unnamed source, IBM does not know who that source is and does not support or confirm the authenticity of those statements. Our position is that users can certainly run the drive more than eight hours a day.
She also adds the following points:
The 333 power-on hours (POH) defined in the 120GXP data sheet is not a new spec for our GXP drives; it is consistent with what we've held our desktop drives to in previous generation drives. The 333 power-on spec is not an indication of a maximum number of power-on hours or limitation of the Deskstar 120GXP.
Our specifications indicate that the 333 power-on hours per month represent typical desktop PC usage. This assumes an 11-hour day based on a 30 day month. Users can and have successfully run the drive more than 11 hours a day and 333 hours per month; the drives have been used successfully in 24x7 environments.
IBM stands by the 3-year warranty for the 120GXP. Power-on hours will not be a determining factor in negating the warranty.
Since SR itself expressed hesitation on 120GXP server usage, I asked this question: What's IBM's official position in using Deskstar products in servers that would remain on 24/7? Though the warranty would be fully honored, is server utilization encouraged, discouraged, or neither?
Use of the drive 24x7 will not affect or void the warranty. IBM stands by our three-year warranty for the 120GXP. The drive can and has been used successfully in 24x7 operations. Users should not be concerned about running the drive in 24x7 environments beyond concerns typically associated with any drive usage, such as operating temperature, vibration, duty cycle, etc.
This is IBM's side of the issue. Ultimate conclusions when it comes to these nebulous rebiliabity issues are, as always, left to the reader.