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Data Storage Hardware

6TB Helium-Filled Hard Drives Take Flight 297

An anonymous reader writes in with some exciting news if you are a storage array manufacturer with a lot of money to spend on hard drives."HGST Monday announced that it's now shipping a helium-filled, 3.5-in hard disk drive with 50% more capacity than the current industry leading 4TB drives. The new drive uses 23% less power and is 38% lighter than the 4TB drives. Without changing the height, the new 6TB Ultrastar He6 enterprise-class hard drive crams seven disk platters into what was a five disk-platter, 4TB Ultrastar drive."
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6TB Helium-Filled Hard Drives Take Flight

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  • by Robotbeat ( 461248 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @12:36PM (#45326567) Journal

    Helium tends to like to leak out of things. One has to wonder if the power consumption and reliability and speed of the drives will worsen after, say, a decade deployed in the field as the helium gradually is replaced by air. I suppose that has the added benefit for the hard drive manufacturer of a pretty firm drop-dead (or at least significantly reduced performance) date.

    But the increased complexity of the technical approach, i.e. cramming more platters (and using fancy technical tricks like using helium) versus just increasing platter areal density, portends an end to the incredibly fast reduction in storage costs over the last three decades.

    Another option may be to operate the devices in a soft vacuum (back-filled with a little bit of helium, perhaps). That may further reduce drag. However, I believe the heads rely on an air cushion in order to avoid contact with the platters, so there would be a limit to this.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday November 04, 2013 @12:49PM (#45326757) Homepage Journal

    Depending on the seal, the drives likely will end up in a soft vacuum as the helium diffuses out but air cannot diffuse in as quickly. That might cause a head crash or it might cause a heating problem for internal components. Helium is a decent thermal conductor.

  • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Monday November 04, 2013 @01:44PM (#45327511) Journal
    Yes, and if you take a conventional spinning platter hard drive to high altitudes, they will fail. At 17,000 ft, the atmosphere is too thin for them.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"