Helium filled technology allows for 6TB hard drives

/ 4 years ago

HGST (Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) who are now a part of Western Digital, have announced they have found a way to increase storage capacity to 6TB in a single hard drive.

Hard drives are not normally air tight, and as a result turbulence can cause inefficiency. HGST has discovered that by sealing off the drive and filling the inside with Helium it is possible to increase energy efficiency and have greater capacities of data storage.

Power consumption can be reduced by 23% and the saved space (because less turbulence means platters “wobble” less so less clearance between them is needed) means they can now add 7 platters per drive potentially giving up to 6TB of storage space in a 3.5″ hard drive. The drives also run 4°C (7°F) cooler. HGST calculate that the total improvement in watts-per-TB is 45 percent.

As exciting as all this is, it will not be cheap. It took HGST 6 years of research and development, plus the need to overcome numerous issues such as reinforcing the hard drive casing to contain helium and being able to develop the equipment to produce such complex hard drives on a production line.

Although these drives will offer large power savings – the costs involved in manufacturing mean these will probably be enterprise-market exclusives for a long time. Plus you would have to operate thousands of these drives on a 24/7 basis to actually see noticeable benefits from the reduced power draw – i.e. in data centres and servers.