WD released 6 TB hard drive with helium instead of air

    Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (a subsidiary of Western Digital) has announced a new model for the Ultrastar He 6 hard drive . This 3.5-inch hard drive has 50% more capacity than the most capacious HDDs to date. At the same time, it consumes 23% less energy and by itself is 38% lighter than 4 TB drives.



    WD managed to achieve such a breakthrough due to an extraordinary design solution: the sealed HDD case is filled not with air, as usual, but with helium.

    Helium is seven times lighter than air, and its thermal conductivity is an order of magnitude higher. This leads to lower heating and energy savings. A helium hard drive at 7200 rpm is about 4-5 degrees colder than normal.



    HGST has not yet announced the price of this model, but it is an “enterprise-class” hard drive, that is, it will be sold to manufacturers of servers and server arrays of data storage. It can be assumed that the cost of a 6 TB helium HDD will be at least one and a half times higher than the cost of modern 4 TB drives, plus a “helium margin" for advanced technology. Moreover, helium prices have risen recently.



    “I would say helium is one of the major advances in the hard drive industry,” said Fang Zhang, market analyst at IHS. He draws attention not only to an increase in HDD capacity by one and a half times, but also to a serious reduction in power consumption, which is very important for data centers.

    One of the HGST disc customers is Netflix, which broadcasts billions of hours of HD video to its 40 million paid subscribers. An upgrade to Ultrastar He 6 will allow her to seriously optimize her infrastructure and reduce costs. For many other manufacturers of server solutions, increasing information density by one and a half times is a very important factor. For example, the same HP SL4500 server with 60 disks used to hold a maximum of 240 TB, and now it has 360 TB, while the server’s power consumption is reduced by about 20%.

    By the way, another side effect of the sealed enclosure - Ultrastar He 6 hard drives can work under water. Perhaps this can be used in liquid-cooled systems.

    Helium-filled casing will not prevent the use of innovative magnetic recording technologies such as HAMR and SMR in the future. Moreover, on a helium platform, these technologies will even prove their worth.

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