Helium-filled WD drives promise huge boost in capacity
Density of helium is one-seventh that of air, thus reducing hard drive platter drag
Computerworld - For more than 50 years, hard disk drives have run on air. That's about to change.
Western Digital is preparing to launch a line of hard drives filled with helium gas that is said to drastically reduce internal friction and thus lower power consumption by 23% while increasing capacity by 40%.
The 3.5-in data center drives, developed by WD subsidiary Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), are expected to be available next year.
The hermetically sealed drives are filled with helium, which is one-seventh the density of air.
Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing at HGST, said helium drives reduce drag on the disk's platters while the seals keep humidity and other contaminates out. Less drag means the drives operate at temperatures that are four to five degrees cooler than today's 7200 rpm drives, Collins added.
A sealed drive can also operate in more severe environmental conditions, according to HGST.
"The industry has been trying to make this work for the past 10 years. They've been trying to ensure that the gas doesn't leak and that the drives can be efficiently produced in mass volume. That's the key to our proprietary technology," Collins said.
Collins called HGST's announcement more of a technology platform than a product. The helium-filled drives will be targeted for use in public cloud computing systems and in corporate data centers, he added.
"We believe the technology will be around for the next 10 years and will be the foundation of cloud-based storage in the data center," Collins said.
The helium gas-filled drives will let HGST increase the overall platter count from five to seven. At the same time, the technology allows for increasing platter density -- with more tracks per square inch.
Both HAMR and SMR are about two years away from production, Collins said.
"I'm really interested to see how people react to [helium-filled drives]," said IDC analyst John Rydning. "I don't think people are aware that it's been in development for a long time."
Today, HGST data center drives offer up to 4TB of capacity on five internal platters.
While HGST would not say what capacity the helium-filled drives will sport, it could be as much as 5.6TB based on the company's estimate of a 40% increase over current technologies.
Today's capacity limitations
All drive makers have been closing in on a storage ceiling due to disk platter wobble or vibration that comes with spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute.
- Top 10 Endpoint Backup Mistakes When considering endpoint backup options, be sure you're making the right decisions. Protecting data on endpoints has become more challenging because of recent...
- Energy Efficient Servers Supermicro at Work. View Now>>
- Don't Trust Your Data Center to Generic Memory Discover How LRDIMMs Break Through Density and Speed Limitations
- Insist on High Quality, Server-Grade Memory Not All Memory is Created Equal - Make Sure Yours Passes Rigorous Margin and Stress Testing
- The Key to Happiness: Throw out Your Data Warehouse In this webinar, Kerry Reitnauer, Director, Solution Architect at FairPoint Communications will discuss the challenges the data warehouse brought, how they migrated to...
- The Next Generation of Affordable Storage As data needs continue to grow and capacity expansion becomes a necessity, companies of all sizes have to address the delicate balance between... All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts