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Abbreviation for Revolutions Per Minute. Anything that spins or revolves about some axis does so at a rate that can be related to time. Revolutions per minute is a specification for how many times in one minute a device spins through one complete rotation about its axis. In music production we most commonly encounter this spec when comparing different hard drives. A faster rotational speed in a hard drive normally means data can be found faster. This is simple physics: the drive head doesn’t have to wait as long to get access to the various sectors of the drive because they pass by more frequently on faster mechanisms. Drive spindle speed, as it is sometimes known, has a direct impact on specs such as seek time, and can have an effect on the overall throughput of the drive. In short, higher numbers faster. In music and/or video production fast hard drives are a requirement so we tend to look at these specs much more closely than someone who uses a computer in a more conventional way. A “faster” drive, however, is not always necessary. It depends on the application. A hard drive for audio or video, for example, must be fast, but only needs to be “fast enough” to enable the system to do what is required. Sometimes there is a point of diminishing returns beyond which the added expense of a faster drive may not offer any additional benefit for a given system.

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