Need more capacity for USENET content? HGST, a Western Digital subsidiary, just announced a helium-filled 6TB hard drive — the world’s first discretely 6TB drive, mind you. Naturally, the helium part’s driving a bunch of pun-blighted headlines absurdly comparing hard drives to balloons, but there’s reason to be cautiously excited about the helium angle: The point of trapping helium in a hard drive is to make the drive more energy efficient as well as increase its capacity. That’s not easily done, and HGST is taking a victory lap to celebrate the fact that it’s first to market with the Ultrastar He6 hard drive.
The hermetically sealed helium drives also consume 23 percent less power, are 38 percent lighter, and run several degrees cooler than the company’s 4TB drives, HGST says.
Helium is one-seventh the density of air, which translates into less drag on the hard drive’s moving parts. That adds up to a smaller amount of turbulence and less heat inside the drive. With less turbulence and heat, you don’t need as much power to run or cool the drive.
The He6 also crams more platters into the same space. HGST’s 4TB models, for example, offer 5 disks, while the Ultrastar HE6 can pack seven disks without increasing the size of the drive.
As the platters in a hard drive start to move, the air surrounding the disk’s surface also begins to rotate. A hard-drive disk spinning in air meets resistance and tends to flutter, putting strain on the motor, requiring more power. Since helium flows better than air, drives filled with the gas experience very little friction, and the arms suffer less turbulence.
The Ultrastar He6, which maintains the traditional 3.5-inch form factor, is being targeted at businesses, and companies that have signed on to try it out. However, its usage for storing and managing USENET content has got us here at Thundernews the most excited!