Western Digital planning to launch efficient helium-filled hard drives by year's end

By on October 28, 2013, 2:45 PM
western digital, helium, hgst, hard drives, hitachi global storage technologies, helium-filled hard drives

Western Digital recently reaffirmed plans to ship helium-filled seven-platter hard drives to customers by the end of this calendar year. The company is already sampling sealed drives with select customers as of writing, we’re told.

First generation sealed drives won’t be produced in significant volume as, by Western Digital’s own admission, customers will want to test the drives out early on. According to WD CEO Stephen D. Milligan, he doesn’t expect the first generation to meaningfully move the needle in terms of market share in their favor, at least not initially.

Western Digital acquired HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) early last year for $3.9 billion in cash and 25 million shares of WDC common stock. WD’s subsidiary has since been working on helium-filled drives which offer a number of improvements over traditional air-filled models.

The density of helium is one-seventh that of air. As such, there’s much less drag inside a helium-filled drive which means components don’t have to use as much power to operate. The company cites a 23 percent reduction in power consumption and an overall operating temperature drop of 4°C (7°F). Additionally, more platters can be stuffed inside a helium-filled drive which in turn means capacities should approach 7TB by sometime next year.

Specific capacities and product specifications will be released closer to launch although at this point, it’s unclear if the drives will be geared exclusively toward enterprise users or if consumer models will also ship with the new technology.




User Comments: 13

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2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Hey maybe it has another advantage, if you drop it, it won't hit the floor so hard thus not destroying itself and your data.

2 people like this | motrin said:

Does this mean I have to start using screws to hold down my HD's?

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Shipping should be easy, put a gps tracker on it and throw it in the customer's direction. It'll float to the destination, just make sure you keep an eye on the gps so you don't miss it.

1 person liked this | Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Initially this will probably be enterprise level drives, the R&D has to be paid off before consumer drives will be affordable. Also Helium is going to go up in price, there's already a "shortage" of the stuff, now hard drives are going to use it too, when the shortage happens expect prices to rise.

2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

...[ ].... Helium is going to go up in price, there's already a "shortage" of the stuff, now hard drives are going to use it too, when the shortage happens expect prices to rise.
Oh no, could this be the and of those annoying children's birthday balloons as we know them?:eek:

I suppose they could fill be filled with hydrogen, but that would place them at the mercy of every old curmudgeon, (such as myself), with a cigarette lighter and a bad attitude.....:p

On second thought, if we're short of Helium, couldn't we tap Elon Musk for an idea to visit the Sun and bring us back a few hundred thousand metric tons? Tell him we're looking to him for our salvation. That should motivate him to invent a "yap propelled rocket", so he can talk his way there and back.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Oh no, could this be the and of those annoying children's birthday balloons as we know them?:eek:

<snip>

No S$$t! Party City already has a 3 balloon limit.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Why don't they just skip using helium and have a vacuum instead?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Why don't they just skip using helium and have a vacuum instead?
Because it's completely inert. A vacuum could conceivably be penetrated. Arguably, if the helium is at one atmosphere, there's a null potential for migration.

Besides, I think you need the temperature of a star to fuse helium, and even at that all you get is lithium.

DISCLAIMER: As we are heading into mischief night, you have to understand this is pure, speculative, bulls***....:p

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why don't they just skip using helium and have a vacuum instead?
But storage solution within the cloud is easier with helium.

Now for a serious question, one that I've never really thought about. If you could pull a vacuum on a hot air balloon instead of filling it with hot air, would it still float?

Answer:

[link]

OK, so my original comment about helium was incorrect as a vacuum filled hard drive would weigh less. So for cloud storage you want a vacuum filled hard drive. LOL

P.S. - I hope no one takes me serious regarding cloud storage.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

You can't use a vacuum. You still need some kind of gas to act as an "air bearing". Without it the head has a greater chance of hitting the platters.

3 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Oh no, could this be the and of those annoying children's birthday balloons as we know them?:eek:

I suppose they could fill be filled with hydrogen, but that would place them at the mercy of every old curmudgeon, (such as myself), with a cigarette lighter and a bad attitude.....:p

On second thought, if we're short of Helium, couldn't we tap Elon Musk for an idea to visit the Sun and bring us back a few hundred thousand metric tons? Tell him we're looking to him for our salvation. That should motivate him to invent a "yap propelled rocket", so he can talk his way there and back.

I like that idea. If he says it's far too hot & bright to go to the sun, we could always try convince him to go at night.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You can't use a vacuum. You still need some kind of gas to act as an "air bearing". Without it the head has a greater chance of hitting the platters.

Ahh true! Thats another concept I hadn't considered. LOL

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Does this mean I have to start using screws to hold down my HD's?
What the hell are you doing now? Just letting them slop around the case?

I think they should invent a helium filled motherboard. Which in your instance, would relieve you of the trouble of bolting that down either.

Just think, in a perhaps not too distant future, they'll have all floating parts. Then you won't even need to own a screwdriver.

But really, with today's non floating parts, it's still a good idea to tack them down with at least a piece of double stick tape. If that's off the budget, try a wad of bubblegum....

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