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Silent upgrades

Do you want to quite down the office? Start with the disk-drive fans.

Silent upgrades
David Gabel

It's getting noisy in the work environment. All those computers with fans running raise the decibel level in the office to a point that sometimes office employees can't hear on the phone, and even conversation can be a bit difficult. At least two disk-drive makers are working on ATA drives that will run more quietly, so when you upgrade storage capacity, and you might, rather than buying new PCs, with the economy doing its gyrations right now, you can look for these ultra-quiet drives.

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Noisy servers are one thing. You know that when you walk into the server room, it can sound like dozens of fans running. Well, that's what you have there.

But desktop drives are fairly noisy as well, and this can lead to some user problems for you. The decibel level in the office has been rising, and sometimes it can be a bit hard to hear phone calls or have quiet conversations in cubicles.

At least two drive makers, Seagate ( and Maxtor ( are addressing this noise issues by bringing out new drives with, among other things, fluid-dynamic bearings that, the companies say, reduce noise levels to below human recognition.

Seagate's new offering is the Ultra DMA/100 Barracuda ATA IV. It has 20 GB/platter for up to a 40-GB capacity overall. IT operates at sound levels of from 2 bels to 3.3 bels.

Maxtor's unit is the DiamondMax 740, with hydrodynamic bearing. It operates at from 2.7 bels to 3.2 bels. It has capacities up to 80GB.

Either of these drives would be fine in those applications where desktop users need large amounts of local storage, but don't want big-drive noise. They could also be used in small servers where the ATA interface is OK.

David Gabel is the executive technology editor of TechTarget.

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