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Seagate's 6TB HDDs Coming in Early 2Q 2014

By - Source: Xbit Labs | B 35 comments

Seagate is working on a 6 TB hard drive.

Currently, Western Digital is the only company with a 6 TB drive on the market, dubbed as the Ultrastar He6. This drive is a world's first in that it uses helium, is hermetically sealed, and has the largest capacity on the market. The helium-based drive was released back in November, and now Seagate is vowing to offer its own 6 TB solution this April.

"We are continuing to expand our offering of high capacity drives with our six-disk, 6 TB drive shipping early next quarter," said Steve Luczo, chairman and chief executive of Seagate during a conference call with investors and financial analysts.

Unfortunately, Seagate did not provide additional details other than the drive will be marketed to the enterprise sector. Obviously, Seagate can't use the same technology that helped Western Digital cram seven platters in a standard 3.5 form factor, but it may be similar.

In the case of Western Digital's drive, the company reports that it provides 23 percent lower idle power and 49 percent better watts-per-TB. The helium-based drive also has the best density footprint in a standard 3.5-inch form factor, providing 50 percent higher capacity. The drive is also lighter in weight when compared to a standard 3.5-inch drive with 5 platters (38 percent lower weight-per-TB).

Helium's density is one-seventh that of air, meaning less drag force acting on the spinning platter stack, which in turn reduces the power used by the motor. The use of helium also allows the platters to be mounted closer together and the data tracks closer together because the fluid flow forces buffeting the platters and arms are reduced. A helium drive will run cooler and emit less noise thanks to helium's thermal conduction and lower sheer forces.

Seagate's solution is expected to have six platters that use Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology (pdf). The solution may also use Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology that would have 25 percent higher density, allowing Western Digital to offer 7.5 TB capacity in a typical 3.5-inch form factor.

We've reached out to Western Digital for a comment and we'll update here when the company responds.

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  • 10 Hide
    wdmfiber , February 3, 2014 11:16 AM
    Quote:
    If the HDD is sealed, won't that cause damage under higher/lower pressures due to pressure differences? Normal HDDs have a hole to equalize pressure, and I assume that if no damage would be caused then this hole wouldn't be necessary: yet it's there.

    If you sealed something at sea level and tossed it out in space. It would only have ~14.7 psi of air pressure in it. You could over inflate a car tire by that much and it wouldn't blow. Ever take a HDD apart? The frame is impressive. Typically a block of aluminum that has been machined out. If it was sealed up, it would likely take more than 1 bar(atmospheric) to blow the metal cover off.

    I could drill a hole in the frame of one. Tap it, screw in a standard male air compressor adapter and pressurize the thing up to 130 psi. But this 6tb drive is probably going to be several hundred dollars. Kind of a waste just to see how "over built" it is(& satisfy curiosity).

Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    Kelthar , February 3, 2014 10:54 AM
    If the HDD is sealed, won't that cause damage under higher/lower pressures due to pressure differences? Normal HDDs have a hole to equalize pressure, and I assume that if no damage would be caused then this hole wouldn't be necessary: yet it's there.
  • -5 Hide
    minerva330 , February 3, 2014 10:55 AM
    Their justification for using helium is interesting. I wonder how much real life difference it makes versus marketing.

    I have only filled 2tb of my 3tb home server, one of these and I would be set for a good long while
  • 2 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 3, 2014 10:56 AM
    SMR reduces write performance. Just increase areal densities with HAMR and bit patterning. I know, better said than done.
  • 0 Hide
    racistpancake , February 3, 2014 11:00 AM
    Damn, that's a good hard drive. Um, can you guys help me out? Pc gamer to pc gamer. My friend has very little money and is not exactly in a good place right now. I want to introduce him to the world of pc gaming, so I started a fund for him. If you can donate anything please do, as it is much appreciated. If you cannot donate however, I understand that you are most likely in a situation similar to my friends. Thank you all for your support. https://mobile.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/wapapp?cmd=_flow&CONTEXT=X3%2d7SZn2ExXucINxlliZ%5f05NdFsrIIpaV9TcRYNLL%5fGiOwm9XgEZzWKQeV0&SESSION=5NCG%5fHmzmS9zquY7nmfeM8BiaGH6CS%2d2lv6gRaFyizqQWNl6w%2dzEIdF31B4&guest_xo=#m
  • 9 Hide
    Tanquen , February 3, 2014 11:15 AM
    So that's 5.4 real TBs.
  • 10 Hide
    wdmfiber , February 3, 2014 11:16 AM
    Quote:
    If the HDD is sealed, won't that cause damage under higher/lower pressures due to pressure differences? Normal HDDs have a hole to equalize pressure, and I assume that if no damage would be caused then this hole wouldn't be necessary: yet it's there.

    If you sealed something at sea level and tossed it out in space. It would only have ~14.7 psi of air pressure in it. You could over inflate a car tire by that much and it wouldn't blow. Ever take a HDD apart? The frame is impressive. Typically a block of aluminum that has been machined out. If it was sealed up, it would likely take more than 1 bar(atmospheric) to blow the metal cover off.

    I could drill a hole in the frame of one. Tap it, screw in a standard male air compressor adapter and pressurize the thing up to 130 psi. But this 6tb drive is probably going to be several hundred dollars. Kind of a waste just to see how "over built" it is(& satisfy curiosity).

  • -1 Hide
    SirGCal , February 3, 2014 11:30 AM
    Quote:
    If the HDD is sealed, won't that cause damage under higher/lower pressures due to pressure differences? Normal HDDs have a hole to equalize pressure, and I assume that if no damage would be caused then this hole wouldn't be necessary: yet it's there.
    Helium is 1/7th the density of air. That's the whole point. They can seal it up and it still cools nicely but acts much closer to a vacuum to the moving parts inside.
    Quote:
    Their justification for using helium is interesting. I wonder how much real life difference it makes versus marketing. I have only filled 2tb of my 3tb home server, one of these and I would be set for a good long while
    There is an actual difference. And as for the size, that is only YOUR situation. I have a 36TB total array size (one 12, one 24, both Raid 6) for my house. And I'm still running out of room. It depends if you're actually storing information or hacking files from the internet. Are you using real data or making your private movie theft storage? etc. (Everything I do is legal BTW, I'm anti-piracy). It's all about your specific needs. I have 2TB drives laying around for my quick-swap external drives that get filled and dumped regularly. (right now I see 4 on my desk, a few 1.5TB drives, etc.)If I could make it out of 6TB disks, I would have, but not at $800/each when my 4TB disks were $200-300 each. Too much premium even for me. I guess there are some other businesses that still go for it though but prices will drop rapidly once other manufacturers start spitting out the drives.
  • 4 Hide
    gm0n3y , February 3, 2014 11:50 AM
    If they want less drag couldn't they just remove all gases from the enclosure (i.e. a vacuum)? Is that too difficult/expensive/failure prone? Or do they need a gas in there to aid in heat transfer?
  • 0 Hide
    minerva330 , February 3, 2014 11:51 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    If the HDD is sealed, won't that cause damage under higher/lower pressures due to pressure differences? Normal HDDs have a hole to equalize pressure, and I assume that if no damage would be caused then this hole wouldn't be necessary: yet it's there.
    Helium is 1/7th the density of air. That's the whole point. They can seal it up and it still cools nicely but acts much closer to a vacuum to the moving parts inside.
    Quote:
    Their justification for using helium is interesting. I wonder how much real life difference it makes versus marketing. I have only filled 2tb of my 3tb home server, one of these and I would be set for a good long while
    There is an actual difference. And as for the size, that is only YOUR situation. I have a 36TB total array size (one 12, one 24, both Raid 6) for my house. And I'm still running out of room. It depends if you're actually storing information or hacking files from the internet. Are you using real data or making your private movie theft storage? etc. (Everything I do is legal BTW, I'm anti-piracy). It's all about your specific needs. I have 2TB drives laying around for my quick-swap external drives that get filled and dumped regularly. (right now I see 4 on my desk, a few 1.5TB drives, etc.)If I could make it out of 6TB disks, I would have, but not at $800/each when my 4TB disks were $200-300 each. Too much premium even for me. I guess there are some other businesses that still go for it though but prices will drop rapidly once other manufacturers start spitting out the drives.


    I hear ya, it really goes without saying it is need based. I just can't stand clutter. My server is a family one, all legal too. Pics, HD GoPro, videos, digital books, back-ups, etc. One large drive like this or two or three smaller drives would meet my needs.
  • -6 Hide
    Jake Hall , February 3, 2014 12:26 PM
    I'd rather it be filled with Hydrogen.... Then, if it sparks, it'll just explode
  • -5 Hide
    WyomingKnott , February 3, 2014 12:26 PM
    Not the first to use helium. Read about this before on Tom's, and here's a helium-filled enterprise drive in November: http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/04/first-helium-filled-6tb-hard-drive/
  • 7 Hide
    Kewlx25 , February 3, 2014 12:43 PM
    Quote:
    If they want less drag couldn't they just remove all gases from the enclosure (i.e. a vacuum)? Is that too difficult/expensive/failure prone? Or do they need a gas in there to aid in heat transfer?


    You need a gas to act as an air bearing, otherwise the head will crash into the platter. Not to mention a vacuum is bad for conducting away heat.

    You can't use hydrogen because it will make the aluminum break apart, yet alone near impossible to contain, you can't use Oxygen because it's a strong "oxidizer", You could use Nitrogen(air is 70% nitrogen) but that's what we're already using and it's a limitation, CO2 is also too thick and probably worse than Nitrogen.

    Not many options.
  • -1 Hide
    qlum , February 3, 2014 12:48 PM
    Helium is an interesting choice, keeping the pressure inside the same as with regular air while reducing friction. Sure a vacuum would have even less friction but the problem there would be the pressure difference could degrade the drive over time where the helium would stay far better in place.
  • 2 Hide
    WyomingKnott , February 3, 2014 12:58 PM
    Quote:
    Helium is an interesting choice, keeping the pressure inside the same as with regular air while reducing friction. Sure a vacuum would have even less friction but the problem there would be the pressure difference could degrade the drive over time where the helium would stay far better in place.


    Vacuum won't work because, as mentioned above, the gas is actually used as an air bearing. It controls, with amazing precision, the height at which the heads "fly" above the platters. No gas, no flying.
  • -1 Hide
    qlum , February 3, 2014 1:04 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Helium is an interesting choice, keeping the pressure inside the same as with regular air while reducing friction. Sure a vacuum would have even less friction but the problem there would be the pressure difference could degrade the drive over time where the helium would stay far better in place.


    Vacuum won't work because, as mentioned above, the gas is actually used as an air bearing. It controls, with amazing precision, the height at which the heads "fly" above the platters. No gas, no flying.

    Yea I had the tab open for a while before posting so I missed that, I guess that's true though it could be possible tot use other techniques in a vacuum then again that would probably alter a lot of stuff, so who knows maybe we will see them sometime in the future or maybe we wont, maybe running at half atmospheric or a 10th of atmospheric pressure will be the future as you could still use gas then would be the future.
  • -2 Hide
    WyomingKnott , February 3, 2014 1:10 PM
    Or in a vacuum using the same principal as maglev trains. How you'd do that without disturbing the magnetic domains storing the data is beyond me, but so is figuring out how to store more than 4 bytes per square inch.
  • 2 Hide
    jase240 , February 3, 2014 3:43 PM
    Seagate's solution is expected to have six platters that use Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology (pdf). The solution may also use Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology that would have 25 percent higher density, allowing Western Digital to offer 7.5 TB capacity in a typical 3.5-inch form factor.We've reached out to Western Digital for a comment and we'll update here when the company responds.-----I thought this article was about Seagate's new Helium filled HDDs and not WD's?!?!
  • 0 Hide
    txgs , February 3, 2014 5:23 PM
    Quote:
    Yay, 6TB HDD, Just in time to not need a 6 TB HDD thanks to cloud storage.
    Yeah, have fun with that response time and availability speed.Its kinda trendy, the only ones in favor of solely cloud storage are the ones that do nothing productive with their drives, only store documents.
  • 0 Hide
    devBunny , February 4, 2014 2:09 AM
    "We've reached out to Western Digital for a comment"Did you mean to say "We've reached out to the Western Digital massive" or "We've axed Western Digital for a comment"?
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