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.
- 5 eDiscovery Challenges Solved eDiscovery challenges continue to present themselves as data storage becomes more complex and grows the Big Data Era. Read this CommVault Solution Brief...
- Windows® XP Migration: Protect and Secure Critical Data With the end of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system's lifecycle on April 8, 2014, businesses are faced with the decision to migrate...
- Dell PowerEdge C8000 Series Constantly changing workloads demand the right mix of resources, with the maximum performance per unit of rack space. The Dell PowerEdge C8000 with...
- Seven questions you must ask before choosing your patient portal solution By asking the right questions and connecting the right stakeholders, you can ensure that you implement a true community solution that will improve...
- Vblock™ Specialized System for SAP HANA® Deploy SAP HANA® fast and with low risk. VCE brings together all of the necessary components for SAP HANA® into a single, standardized...
- The Value of Symantec NetBackup Appliances In this video, Symantec's Shelley Schmokel, Principal Product Manager for NetBackup Appliances, talks about the NetBackup Integrated Appliances and how they deliver enterprise-class... All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts
Computerworld has launched its annual search for outstanding IT leaders who align technology with business goals. Nominate a top IT executive for the 2015 Premier 100 IT Leaders awards now through July 18.