Carnegie Mellon develops new sensor to detect computer hard drive failures

March 03, 2004

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University researchers have designed a new heat-sensitive sensor to detect computer hard drive failures.

The Carnegie Mellon Critter Temperature Sensor, which attaches to a user's desktop computer, is being deployed across campus to monitor the working environment of university computers, according to Michael Bigrigg, a project scientist for the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES).

"Essentially what we are trying to do is save the life of the computer hard drive. Hard drives get hot and the sensor is designed to pick up the slightest temperature variation," Bigrigg said. He added that the new sensor will also help researchers understand wasted energy.

Industry analysts report that the average lifespan of a computer hard drive is 600,000 hours or 3.1 years. But Carnegie Mellon researchers predict that they may be able to extend the lifespan of a computer hard drive and save users time and money by sensing how much daily heat a hard drive endures. On average, it costs $80 to $200 to repair a damaged hard drive, according to ICES.

Carnegie Mellon researchers report that the amount of new words, sounds and pictures stored on computer hard rives has almost doubled in the past three years. In global-climate data storage alone, researchers estimate that the volume of recorded information is expected to soar - from 2 billion gigabytes in the year 2000 to 15 billion gigabytes in 2010. A gigabyte is a billion bytes - the equivalent of a billion English letters.

So far, the new sensor, the size of a dime, has been deployed in offices and labs throughout Carnegie Mellon's Hamburg Hall.
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Carnegie Mellon University

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