Western Digital HGST gets a squeaky voice

Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) touts its new helium-filled hard drive technology. Its HGST unit promises bigger, faster, cooler, and -- yes -- lighter disk storage for data centers.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers line up for a lungfull.

HGST helium drive

By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Lucas Mearian reports:

[They're] said to drastically reduce internal friction and thus lower power consumption by 23% while increasing capacity by 40%. ... The hermetically sealed drives are filled with helium. ... Less drag means the drives operate at temperatures that are four to five degrees cooler. ... A sealed drive can also operate in more severe environmental conditions.

...

The helium-filled drives will be targeted for use in...data centers. ... [It] will let HGST increase the overall platter count from five to seven [and] allows for increasing platter density. ... Today, HGST data center drives offer up to 4TB of capacity on five internal platters.  MORE

Neil McAllister adds:

[The] technology has been under development at HGST – formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and now a Western Digital subsidiary – for more than six years. ... Those extra platters could also mean some seriously monster-sized drives. ...it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that its first seven-platter spinners will [be] 6TB or even larger.

...

[It] should allow modern, storage-hungry data centers to cram in more terabytes per square foot than ever before. ... The question that remains is what will it cost? ...air is plentiful and cheap...helium is not. ... Helium is valuable enough stuff that in 1996, the US [began] selling off its strategic helium reserve...as a way to raise some cash.  MORE

Robin Harris bobs along with the science:

Drive engineers have long known that the air inside drives creates turbulence...which degrades performance and efficiency. ... Drives today are not hermetically sealed...to allow pressure equalization. ... HGST engineers have evidently figured out...How to build a drive structure stiff enough not to flex with pressure changes [and] manufacture such drives in high volume at...a competitive price.

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The major buyers will likely be large cloud storage providers, where a 45% increase in energy efficiency...will pay major dividends.  MORE

Carly Page asks the hard questions:

We quizzed the firm as to whether other companies were planning to deliver similar solutions, but it said it has a good "3-5 year head start. ... Even if a competitor takes apart our solution...and tries to copy it, they still need time to create all the components...mature their design, technology and process."

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There's no word on a release date yet, but HGST told us that the new HDDs will be available next year.  MORE
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