Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

HGST Announces New Helium-Filled Hard Disk Drive Platform

By - Source: HGST | B 49 comments

We won't be needing birthday balloons any more for our funny voices, thanks to the upcoming HGST new helium-filled hard disk drive platform.*

HGST announced a new helium-filled hard disk drive platform, which will help increase capacity and reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for enterprise and cloud customers. HGST's new helium-filled hard drive, which is expected in 2013, will allow them to go beyond the five-platter design to provide a path for higher capacity storage at lower TCO. 

With industry-wide challenges in scaling current areal density technologies, this new platform allows HGST to design seven-platter drives in a standard 3.5-inch form factor that will cost-effectively extend the capacity and cost-per-gigabyte curve, though HGST didn't state the expected capacities these can reach (estimate 6 TB plus). 

The density of helium is one-seventh that of air, delivering significant advantages to HGST’s sealed-drive platform. The lower density means dramatically less drag force acting on the spinning disk stack, so that mechanical power into the motor is substantially reduced. The lower helium density also means that the fluid flow forces buffeting the disks and the arms, which position the heads over the data tracks, are substantially reduced allowing for disks to be placed closer together (i.e., seven disks in the same enclosure) and to place data tracks closer together (i.e., allowing continued scaling in data density). The lower shear forces and more efficient thermal conduction of helium also mean the drive will run cooler and will emit less acoustic noise.

“The benefits of operating a HDD with helium fill have been known for a long time. The breakthrough is in the product and process design, which seals the helium inside the HDD enclosure cost effectively in high-volume manufacturing,” said Steve Campbell, chief technology officer at HGST.  “We are excited about the introduction of this platform, which demonstrates HGST technology leadership and is the result of more than six years of development in materials science, mechanical engineering and process technology. Thanks to the hard work of our research and engineering teams, our initial pilot lines are up and operational, putting HGST in position to introduce this technology first into the market.”

HGST compared the power consumption between a helium-filled drive and an equivalent air-filled drive side-by-side, demonstrating a reduction in power consumption of 23 percent for the helium-filled drive. Taking into account the extra capacity coming from two additional disks, the improvement in watts-per-TB is estimated at around 45 percent. In addition, the drivers run four degrees Celsius cooler, which requires less cooling in system racks and data center. These improvements help lower the drives TCO of the helium-filled platform with regards to the critical watt-per-TB metric. 

HGST is expected to release specific capacities points and product specifications when the platform launches in 2013. 

*Caution: We here at Tom's Hardware do not recommend any end-user to break the seal on the helium-filled drives for their amusement.


Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

Discuss
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    thecolorblue , September 22, 2012 10:10 AM
    so will these intended for enterprise only? ...with matching hyper-inflated price tags?
  • 17 Hide
    flyflinger , September 22, 2012 12:57 PM
    So in case of helium leakage failure, will it keep working (albeit at a lower energy efficiency) or is it going to be catastrophic failure? Will the drive self diagnose such degrading performance from leakage and report it?
  • 17 Hide
    pjmelect , September 22, 2012 12:16 PM
    My experience with helium is that it tends to slip out of even a tightly sealed enclosure. I would be interested in seeing how they manage to keep the helium in over the lifetime of the drive.
Other Comments
    Display all 49 comments.
  • 20 Hide
    thecolorblue , September 22, 2012 10:10 AM
    so will these intended for enterprise only? ...with matching hyper-inflated price tags?
  • -5 Hide
    whitecrowro , September 22, 2012 11:31 AM
    vacuum is better
  • 10 Hide
    greghome , September 22, 2012 11:44 AM
    We're gonna have so much fun laughing when we crack open our HDDs later on :D 
  • 3 Hide
    mindless728 , September 22, 2012 11:47 AM
    Quote:
    *Caution: We here at Tom's Hardware do not recommend any end-user to break the seal on the helium-filled drives for their amusement.


    Nice, though I see this happening anyways when they become more mainstream. Though with the first versions of these being expensive it will not be a problem.
  • 17 Hide
    pjmelect , September 22, 2012 12:16 PM
    My experience with helium is that it tends to slip out of even a tightly sealed enclosure. I would be interested in seeing how they manage to keep the helium in over the lifetime of the drive.
  • 16 Hide
    otakuloser , September 22, 2012 12:28 PM
    whitecrowrovacuum is better


    Hard Drives need air/gas to work.
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , September 22, 2012 12:56 PM
    Wasn't this posted like two weeks ago or something like on the Fud?
  • 17 Hide
    flyflinger , September 22, 2012 12:57 PM
    So in case of helium leakage failure, will it keep working (albeit at a lower energy efficiency) or is it going to be catastrophic failure? Will the drive self diagnose such degrading performance from leakage and report it?
  • -5 Hide
    tomfreak , September 22, 2012 1:29 PM
    too many platter is not reliable anyway. I usually prefer 1 platter disk
  • 8 Hide
    fazers_on_stun , September 22, 2012 2:38 PM
    Quote:
    Hard Drives need air/gas to work.


    Dunno who thumbed you down on this, but you are 100% correct. Most modern magnetic disc drives depend on a flying head to operate just a fraction of a micron above the platter. In fact, there are hundreds of patents on head designs for channeling the air (or helium) and auto-height adjustment control so as to maximize the read/write signal strength while minimizing impacts between the head and the platter due to such events as hitting dust or debris (which can cause the head to heat up and expand in microseconds, risking contact with the platter surface).

    If someone were on an airplane 7 miles high that suffered loss of cabin pressure, the plane might crash but the disc drives on any operating laptops would definitely suffer a head crash.. Not that the owner would care too much as he struggled to put on his oxygen mask before passing out :p .. Also explains why ordinary disc drives don't work so good on top of Mt. Everest..
  • -6 Hide
    freggo , September 22, 2012 3:06 PM
    Why not run the drives in a vacuum? I am sure there is a way of designing the head assembly so the head does not need a medium to help it 'float' over the platter.

    As for the helium filling, will these drives come with tie down straps so they stay put ? :-)

  • 3 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 22, 2012 3:47 PM
    So apart from the obvious "boom" factor, why not hydrogen gas?
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2012 3:59 PM
    the amount of hydrogen in a disk wouldnt pose safety hazard if it escaped, but larger quantities used at the manufacturing plant could be a big issue
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , September 22, 2012 4:10 PM
    freggoWhy not run the drives in a vacuum? I am sure there is a way of designing the head assembly so the head does not need a medium to help it 'float' over the platter.As for the helium filling, will these drives come with tie down straps so they stay put ? :-)


    It's probably not that simple. If there's nothing at all between the head and the platters, then there's no force holding the head over them except for the rest of the head. The rest of it isn't a very good leverage for that and having a small amount of air is probably greatly beneficial to keeping the heads where they should be. It should provide greater stability and that's probably why we don't go for vacuums. The air pressure helps to hold everything together.

    Helium may be less dense than our atmosphere, but unless I don't recall my physics/chemistry properly, being less dense doesn't necessarily mean less pressure. So, it can have similar pressure with less drag and that might help several aspects of the hard drives. I may have missed it if it was mentioned, but this might also help disks spin at even higher speeds. Maybe we can hit 20K RPM in some top HDD models with this and make 10K affordable within the next few years :) 
  • 9 Hide
    blazorthon , September 22, 2012 4:13 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    *Caution: We here at Tom's Hardware do not recommend any end-user to break the seal on the helium-filled drives for their amusement.


    Nice, though I see this happening anyways when they become more mainstream. Though with the first versions of these being expensive it will not be a problem.


    It'd probably be cheaper to buy large helium tanks than to buy hard drives to crack them open.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2012 4:15 PM
    Now we can put 3.5" drives in oil?
  • 2 Hide
    Max Collodi , September 22, 2012 4:31 PM
    It is certainly possible to build a hard drive using vacuum. It has been done in lab experiments. The problem is the strength and thickness necessary in the casing to prevent it from imploding make it a much more expensive option than helium.
  • 6 Hide
    blazorthon , September 22, 2012 4:31 PM
    cgsampleNow we can put 3.5" drives in oil?


    These drives should be air-tight, so maybe they can be put in oil.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , September 22, 2012 4:59 PM
    whitecrowrovacuum is better


    Puncture the HDD, internal explosion.

    Same problem with CRT TVs and monitors.
  • -2 Hide
    thecolorblue , September 22, 2012 5:16 PM
    dajthe amount of hydrogen in a disk wouldnt pose safety hazard if it escaped, but larger quantities used at the manufacturing plant could be a big issue

    helium
Display more comments