Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Ultrastar Hard Drive Uses Helium to Maximize Capacity

By - Source: HGST | B 27 comments

Western Digital's HGST is using helium to tackle industry-wide challenges in scaling current areal density technologies.

This week Western Digital-owned HGST announced that its new 6 TB Ultrastar He6 hard disk drive is now shipping. This isn't just any hard drive, though. The Ultrastar He6 uses HGST's HelioSeal, which means the spinning platters are sealed inside a hermetic chamber filled with helium instead of air.

The density of helium is one-seventh that of air. The use of helium in HGST's new drive equates to dramatically less drag force acting on the spinning disk stack and a substantial reduction in mechanical power from the motor. 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 greatly reduced. This allows for disks to be placed closer together (seven disks in the same enclosure) and to place data tracks closer together (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.

"With ever-increasing pressures on corporate and cloud data centers to improve storage efficiencies and reduce costs, HGST is at the forefront delivering a revolutionary new solution that significantly improves data center TCO on virtually every level – capacity, power, cooling and storage density – all in the same 3.5-inch form factor," said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing, HGST.

The Ultrastar He6 boasts 5.3 idle watts and weighs in at 640 g (HGST claims that the Ultrastar He6 packs a 38 percent lower weight-per-TB compared to a 3.5-inch, five-platter, air-filled 4 TB drive). It's designed for cloud storage, massive scale-out environments, disk-to-disk backup, and replicated or RAID environments.

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.


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
  • 4 Hide
    drwho1 , November 5, 2013 3:26 PM
    looks interesting.
  • 2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , November 5, 2013 3:35 PM
    I would like to see this using Seagates 1TB platter tech. 7TB HDDs would be pretty neat.
  • -7 Hide
    GeeLouie , November 5, 2013 4:05 PM
    The world is running out of helium and these bozos are using it in hard drives? pathetic
  • Display all 27 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    lianqiw , November 5, 2013 4:13 PM
    What is the price?
  • 7 Hide
    psychodegu , November 5, 2013 4:13 PM
    Once we perfect fusion tech, we will have an infinite supply if helium.
  • -4 Hide
    Nada190 , November 5, 2013 4:14 PM
    WHEN? 4TB is so LITTLE!!! Make a 100TB HDD please.
  • 0 Hide
    vaughn2k , November 5, 2013 5:23 PM
    Wonder how would also this hardrive perform reliably?
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , November 5, 2013 5:36 PM
    GeeLouie, NightLight this is a warning to cut it out. Anything further will come with more than a warning.

    Quote:
    Wonder how would also this hardrive perform reliably?


    Reliability wise it might last longer if it runs cooler. Heat is one of the biggest killers when it comes to mechanical (and electrical) devices as it causes the parts to expand, and when they cool they contract.

    We will have to wait and see but WD also has a HDD based on the technology so I wouldn't doubt seeing others also adopt it as it seems promising.
  • 0 Hide
    GeeLouie , November 5, 2013 5:43 PM
    a warning for what? We cannot discuss? Show me what is against the guidelines because my posts were very mild.
  • 2 Hide
    usertests , November 5, 2013 5:51 PM
    These hard drives use very little helium compared to other industries that use it. Your alarmism is not informed. Even if there is a helium crisis and the price went up 100x I expect the premium from the helium itself to be very small. And if the seals work like they're supposed to, maybe WD could reclaim helium from dead drives (they won't need to).
  • 0 Hide
    warmon6 , November 5, 2013 6:34 PM
    Nice to see tech that was reported a while back finally seeing some action! Not like most things that's looks interesting but never come around.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Helium-Filled-Hard_Disk-hdd-western-digital,17573.html
  • 0 Hide
    Darkk , November 5, 2013 6:39 PM
    Helium supply is not much of an issue at this point. Look at airships! Imagine one airship could supply hundreds thousands of hard drives. The insides of a hard drive is already packed tightly so it wouldn't take much volume to fill it up.
  • 0 Hide
    techguy911 , November 5, 2013 6:48 PM
    Price of helium is skyrocketing not a mere 100% or even 300% but 400% and it's still on the rise there is an extreme shortage world wide.
    I think mechanical hard drives should die and go away this is 2013 price of ssd's are going down if made in mass production prices will continue to fall.
    Failure rates of mechanical drives are on the rise ever since the flood i have been sending back 80% of the drives i sell they fail within 2-6 months the re-certified they send back have a 100% failure rate not a single one i got back last more than 30 days out of 200 drives.
  • 0 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , November 5, 2013 7:00 PM
    I always thought hard disks were in a vacuum.
  • 0 Hide
    smeezekitty , November 5, 2013 7:03 PM
    The biggest reason why we are running out of helium is because we are not recycling it.
    And there are HUGE industrial users. Hard drives (even if all new drives used it) would be very small in comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    warmon6 , November 5, 2013 7:09 PM
    Quote:
    I always thought hard disks were in a vacuum.


    As much as some of use would wish that, It wouldn't happen.

    The read/write heads needs to have a little bit of air (or some type of gas) to keep them the proper distance away from the platter when the platters are spinning.

    Without it, well.... you might not want to know....
  • 0 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , November 5, 2013 7:29 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I always thought hard disks were in a vacuum.


    As much as some of use would wish that, It wouldn't happen.

    The read/write heads needs to have a little bit of air (or some type of gas) to keep them the proper distance away from the platter when the platters are spinning.

    Without it, well.... you might not want to know....


    Can you explain why the gas is necessary?
  • 2 Hide
    smeezekitty , November 5, 2013 7:32 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I always thought hard disks were in a vacuum.


    As much as some of use would wish that, It wouldn't happen.

    The read/write heads needs to have a little bit of air (or some type of gas) to keep them the proper distance away from the platter when the platters are spinning.

    Without it, well.... you might not want to know....


    Can you explain why the gas is necessary?

    Because the head "floats" on it. It creates a gap between the head and the spinning platter.

    Without gas the head would just grind against the platter.

  • 0 Hide
    f-gomes , November 6, 2013 3:44 AM
    Not vaccum. They need air for cooling purposes, I think. (Not sure, though)
  • 0 Hide
    WyomingKnott , November 6, 2013 8:11 AM
    Quote:
    a warning for what? We cannot discuss? Show me what is against the guidelines because my posts were very mild.


    From one of your deleted posts: "Are you even an adult? Because if you are, then shame on you!" Let's keep this civil, without personal attacks.

Display more comments