Helium-filled hard drives will increase capacity and efficiency

By Shawn Knight · 39 replies
Sep 13, 2012
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  1. Western Digital's recently acquired HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) has announced plans to ship helium-filled hard drives next year. Replacing air-filled drives with helium has a number of benefits and is seen as a major win for disk technology...

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    3DCGMODELER TS Enthusiast Posts: 307   +18

    This is cool... how much will it affect the prices???
  3. Only if its a 7200rpm drive. If its 5400 then this technology is completely pointless. God I hate 5400 rpm drives.
  4. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,070   +427

    I'd be cool with having a 6tb external hdd as long as the price isn't $500 for it. I would love to see some 5.25" hdds and see how those would perform and what capacity those could reach.
    gobbybobby likes this.
  5. I thought helium was depleting?
    p51d007 likes this.
  6. Its funny that this comes about now that the world is facing such a huge helium shortage. Companies can barely get helium unless it is for medical reasons. I wonder if these will ever even go into mass production because of it.
    p51d007 likes this.
  7. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,485   +45

    You could always just throw some nuclear waste into the ground, /bamHelium
  8. RzmmDX

    RzmmDX TS Guru Posts: 313   +67

    No dude, those are alpha particles silly.
  9. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    This should result in faster spinning drives if it ever does see the light of day, less resistance means higher speed. From what I gather the shortage isn't so much of a shortage as the US' Bush Dome Reserve is going to run out and no one is stepping up to fill the gap. Helium is the 2nd most abundant element in the universe, theres lots there, we just need to refine more of it.
    prismatics likes this.
  10. Jesse

    Jesse TS Evangelist Posts: 358   +42

    And, we're talking about a relatively small amount of helium. Hard drive cases are fairly low volume.
  11. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 568   +241

    I think it may have a future, at least in servers, because HDDs can offer higher capacity for a lower price and decent RPM for servers, yet we have to see how much money shrinking more the SSDs transistors save us.
  12. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    The funny thing is... since helium is much lighter than air, it will reduce weight of HDD-s. And if pumped in under good pressure, decimating weight dramatically, turning HDD into a balloon :)
  13. ghasmanjr

    ghasmanjr TS Booster Posts: 363   +86

    The weight difference between about 30mL of air vs. 30mL of helium is incredibly trivial. 30mL of helium weighs 0.0054 grams vs. 30 mL of air weighing about 0.0384 grams. Helium may be lighter than air, but a brick of iron filled with Styrofoam will still sink...
  14. What a sad day for hardrive lifetime this is, I remember seagate before was great until they bought maxtor, and hitachi was superb in quality and cant believe they belong to wd now, I have had 3 wd hdd and all three have gone bad in less than 1yr. o well at least I still have samsung as a backup
  15. NTAPRO

    NTAPRO TS Evangelist Posts: 809   +102

    What kind of price are you expecting for it?
  16. The 5400 is pointless? How in the heck you know that. Where is your technical proof. You have no clue. Drag works on any rotational speed. Reduces any speed.
  17. Really, this is just going backwards. It's better to invest in SSDs!
  18. spydercanopus

    spydercanopus TS Evangelist Posts: 855   +121

    My tablet is zero-gravity.
  19. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Evangelist Posts: 574   +72

    One problem with this is that Helium is running out and once gone its gone its once gas we can't recreate.
  20. spydercanopus

    spydercanopus TS Evangelist Posts: 855   +121

    "Helium ... is the second most abundant element in the observable universe, being present at about 24% of the total elemental mass..." -Wikipedia
  21. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,959   +217

    This is very interesting news, maybe we will now see hardrives with spindle speeds above 15000RPM
  22. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Evangelist Posts: 574   +72

    And... it's second to hydrogen in the "universe" but last I checked we don't have easy access to travel around the universe collecting helium. Hell a quarter of the Sun's mass is made of helium why not pop over there with a bucket...
  23. "...air inside hard drives creates drag and turbulence which leads to decreased performance and higher temperatures but it wasn’t until just recently that they figured out what to do about it."

    All that effort to pump a HD full of Helium...why not just suck all the air out and make it vacuum!? NO DRAG AT ALL!
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,726   +3,700

    You didn't read the last two paragraphs. Besides they are not pumping anything, they are replacing the air inside and the results will be 0 pressure with a variance depending on altitude.

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