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Up, up and away with HGST's 6 TB helium-filled HDD

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November 5, 2013

HGST's 6 TB Ultrastar He6 HDD is hermetically sealed to lock helium within its 3.5-inch en...

HGST's 6 TB Ultrastar He6 HDD is hermetically sealed to lock helium within its 3.5-inch enclosure

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Last year, Western Digital subsidiary HGST announced the development of a helium-filled hard drive that would offer increased storage capacity and a reduction in power consumption compared to its air-filled cousins. The company has now delivered on its promise of a 2013 release by beginning shipments of what the company is trumpeting as the world's highest capacity HDD, the 6 TB Ultrastar He6.

The Ultrastar He6 is the first HDD to feature HGST's HelioSeal platform, which hermetically seals helium inside the drive enclosure. Because helium is one-seventh the density of air, there is less turbulence and drag placed on the spinning disk stack and head arms. This allows the drive to use less power while allowing seven disks to be contained within a standard 3.5-inch enclosure instead of the usual five. HGST refers to this as its 7Stac disk design.

The benefits of helium over air in the Ultrastar He6 HDD

Targeted at data centers, cloud storage, disk-to-disk backup and replicated or RAID applications, the enterprise drives are currently only being offered to "cloud and research leaders" who will work with HGST to validate the total cost of ownership (TCO) for such users. Companies on board include HP, Netflix, Huawei, CERN and social and search companies.

The company claims the helium-based technology will help improve the rate of HDD area density growth, which has slowed in recent years, and will also serve as the main platform for new HDD technologies, such as shingled magnetic recording (SMR) and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). It also says because the drives are hermetically sealed, they are ideal for liquid cooling, which is being examined as a more effective and efficient way to keeping components cool in data centers.

HGST says the 6 TB Ultrastar He6 draws 5.3 W at idle, which is 23 percent lower than traditional HDDs, weighs 640 g (22.5 oz), which is 50 g (1.7 oz) lighter than a standard five-disk 3.5-inch HDD, and runs 4-5° C (7-9° F) cooler than current drives. It is available with SAS 6 Gb/s and SATA 6 Gb/s interface versions

Source: HGST

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
5 Comments

Why not a "vacuum" cased HD then?

in-format-ion
6th November, 2013 @ 01:47 pm PST

How long will the Helium stay in the drives? Helium is very good at finding its way out of containers holding it.

Can't use a vacuum inside the drives because the heads plane on a thin gas film. They have a sloped leading edge and some designs also have channels on the face to slightly compress a thin layer of air so they don't touch the disc surface.

Gregg Eshelman
6th November, 2013 @ 02:57 pm PST

Yup, it's on again. New tech, more storage, more unwanted pictures - inadvertently saved.

Steve Kirby
6th November, 2013 @ 04:57 pm PST

Helium is a limited resource. What happens when they run out???

Daniel Gregory
8th November, 2013 @ 01:39 pm PST

@ in-format-ion... I thought the same thing. Why bother with helium when a vacuum would avoid air disturbances all together? It's free too... Surely the engineers at HGST know this so why wouldn't they implement it?

Justfly25
9th November, 2013 @ 11:42 pm PST
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