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.