WD Hard Drives With Helium!

Want a 4 Terabyte drive? (YES!) If it leaks, will Server Admins speak in high, squeaky voices?

Western Digital Boosts Hard Drive Capacity With Helium

On Thursday, HGST announced a new helium-filled HDD platform, expected to hit the market in 2013, that boosts storage capacity while consuming less energy. In a statement, the company–which was formerly called Hitachi Global Storage Technologies until Western Digital acquired it in March–said the new design should ‘significantly [reduce] total cost of ownership.’

The new storage products are built around sealed drive enclosures that have been filled with helium, which is one-seventh as dense as regular air. HGST claims the new technology exerts less force on the drive’s spinning disks, thereby diminishing the mechanical power required by 23%.

The design also allows components to be arranged more closely to one another, meaning that Western Digital’s new HDDs can fit seven platters–up from the current standard of five–into a typical 3.5-inch form factor. The resulting increase in storage capacity makes the energy savings even more dramatic; HGST claims that energy consumption is 45% improved on a watts-per-terabyte basis. The company also stated new products will ’emit less acoustic noise’ than current models.

John Rydning, IDC’s research VP for hard disk drives, said in a phone interview that the helium-filled design caters to a ‘market hungry for capacity.’ He stated that data centers will be interested, highlighting ‘cold storage’ as an opportunity. When asked about current archival options, which obviously do not employ the new tech, he said he could not speculate about which hardware offerings will be purchased by given companies. Even so, he said services such as Amazon Glacier would be ‘most suitable for these types of drives.'”

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