The new disk drives are based on helium, a lighter-than-air gas that improves their efficiency and lifespan, but don’t count on getting one for your home computer any time soon
While SSD drives are now replacing hard drives in new computers, those old disk drives we have been familiar with for decades are still valuable in data centers. Hard disks are substantially cheaper than SSD drives, and are ideal for long-term storage of data that are not frequently accessed.
One of the companies in this segment is Western Digital, which recently displayed a special helium-based hard disk for enterprises. The HGST Ultrastar He12 HDD can store up to 12 terabytes of data, an enormous storage capacity for any company offering various types of cloud apps and databases.
Yes, it’s the same helium gas used in balloons
Hard disks based on helium gas instead of air make it possible to substantially reduce energy consumption. The reason is that helium has a considerably lower density than air, and its inclusion in the disk facilitates lower resistance and less friction from the disk’s rotation. In other words, because the disk contains helium, less heat accumulates in it and less electricity is consumed. This is not the first time that Western Digital subsidiary HGST has displayed a helium-based hard disk. The first model was launched in 2013 (the technology is called HelioSeal).
HGST’s new 3.5-inch disk, however, has been upgraded. It now includes eight magnetic platters and has a 7200 RPM spindle speed. It comes in both SATA and SAS configurations, with a maximum transfer speed of 6 gigabytes per second or 12 gigabytes per second, respectively. Both disks come with 256 megabyte data buffer, an 8 ms seek time, and an 8.6 ms read time.
The company plans to begin commercial delivery in the first half of 2017. As of now, however, these mega-disks are not designed for the general public; they are solely for manufacturers. If 12 terabytes aren’t enough for you, you’ll be glad to know that Western Digital is working on a 14-terabyte disk. This disk is slated to be available in mid-2017 for special customers offering various types of cloud apps, databases, and social networks.
How much will this pleasure cost? We don’t know yet, but it won’t be cheap.