Seagate Begins Volume Shipment of 10TB Helium-Filled Enterprise Capacity 3.5" HDD

Subject: Storage | April 29, 2016 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, helium, hdd, Enterprise Capacity 3.5, 10TB

We’ve seen a ramp up of Helium filled-hard drives lately, first with HGST, and more recently with Western Digital Red 8TB and Gold 8TB. It seems Seagate also wants in on the fun:

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This drive was initially paper-launched back in January, but now Seagate claims it is shipping in volume. While that original release and today’s update both lack performance specs, there are a few interesting tidbits sprinkled in there:

  • This is a CMR drive, not SMR, meaning that it can be written randomly without any of the batch write penalties of Shingled Magnetic Recording.
  • ‘Advanced write caching capabilities’ hints at a form of the media cache tech present in the HGST He6/He8 and also recently adopted by the WD 8TB Gold.
  • The Seagate 10TB release from earlier this year stated that his model will be a 7-platter design with 14 heads. Helium enables thinner platters, and 7-platter designs began appearing in the HGST He6.
  • At nearly 1.5TB per platter and an assumed spindle speed of 7200 RPM, we can infer that the base specs should be reasonably impressive.

New press blast appears after the break. Original launch blast is linked here.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction

Storage devices for personal computers have always been a tricky proposition. While the majority of computer parts are solid state, the computer industry has spent most of its life storing bits on electromechanical mechanical devices like tapes and floppy disks. Speaking relatively, it was only recently (less than a decade) that solid state storage became mainstream, and even today the costs of flash production make rotating media the better option for bulk data storage. Hard drives are typically vented to atmosphere, as the Bernoulli Effect is necessary as part of what keep the drive heads flying above the rotating platters. With any vented enclosure, there is always the risk of atmospheric contaminants finding their way in. Sure there are HEPA-class filters at the vent holes, but they can’t stop organic vapors that may slightly degrade the disk surface over time.

By filling a hard disk with an inert gas and hermetically sealing the disk housing, we can eliminate those potential issues. An added bonus is that if Helium is used, its lower density enables lower air friction of the rotating platters, which translates to lower power consumption when compared to an equivalent air-filled HDD. Ever since HGST released their Helium filled drives, I’ve been waiting for this technology to trickle down to consumer products, and Western Digital has recently brought such a product to market. Today we will be diving into our full performance review of the Western Digital 8TB Red.

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Specifications (source)

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Compared to the 6TB Red, the 8TB model doubles its cache size to 128MB. We also see a slight bump in claimed transfer rates. Idle power consumption sees a slight bump due to different electronics in use, and power/capacity figures check out as well (more on that later as we will include detailed power testing in this article).

Continue reading our review of the 8TB Western Digital Red Helium-filled HDD!!

Seagate Breaks into Helium Market with 10TB Enterprise Capacity Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | January 13, 2016 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, helium, hdd, enterprise, 3.5, 10TB

Seagate updated their Enterprise Capacity line of HDDs this morning with a monster of a 10TB unit:

Seagate 10TB Helium.jpg

To achieve this capacity, Seagate switched over to a sealed, Helium filled design (similar to what HGST has been doing for a few years now). Since filling the space of a HDD with Helium helps reduce head flutter and platter thickness, Seagate was able to fit seven platters into a standard 3.5" housing. As an additional note, this drive uses the same PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) as other recent generation units, and not the SMR (Shingled) employed in their recent 8TB Archive HDD. PMR is a good thing here, as it enables random write access without the performance penalty incurred when attempting the same on an SMR drive.

The Helium filling pushes the MTBF up to 2.5 million hours. Unfortunately the release was light on the other details, and we do not have pricing as of yet, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on this one. Seagate states they are 'shipping to select customers', but given that those customers are ordering by the truckload, it may be some time before we see them in the OEM aftermarket channels.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: BusinessWire

What helium shortage? I have a bunch stored in my HGST drive

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: hgst, western digital, helium, hdd

The new generation of helium filled HDD from HGST take their longevity seriously, rating them at 2.5 million hours MTBF.  This generation also has 7 disks squeezed into the shell, with current capacities reaching 8TB and a shingled 10TB model currently being tested for release later this year.  The increased life and storage density are only part of the benefits that helium brings, 23% lower operating power and temperatures 4-5°C lower than traditional drives will also have an impact on data centre operating costs.  In their article The Register did ask how long the HelioSeal will keep the helium contained and while they did not get an exact figure, the 5 year warranty gives you a good idea of a lower limit.

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"HGST has announced second-generation helium drive tech after shipping a million gen-1 Helium drives and upping field reliability by 15 per cent."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

HAMRs, Shingles and SSD cached HDDs; size versus speed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, SMR, cache, hdd, Seagate, western digital, hgst, helium

Enthusiasts are wholeheartedly adopting SSDs for their storage media of choice with HDDs relegated to long term storage of infrequently accessed storage.  For SMB and enterprise it is not such an easy choice as the expense to move to a purely SSD infrastructure is daunting and often not the most cost effective way to run their business.  That is why HDD makers continue to develop new technology for platter based storage such as HAMR and shingled magnetic media in an attempt to speed up platter drives as well as increasing the storage density.  Today at The Register you can read about a variety of technologies that will keep the platter alive, from Seagate's cached Enterprise Turbo SSHD, HGST's helium filled drives and the latest predictions on when HAMR and SMR drives could arrive on the market.

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"At a briefing session for tech journos yesterday, Seagate dropped hints of new solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) - which combine a non-volatile NAND cache with spinning platters - and a general session about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) and Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

HGST Working With Helium To Inflate Hard Drive Capacities

Subject: Storage | September 19, 2012 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, patter density, hitachi, hgst, helium, Hard Drive, 6tb

Western Digital-owned Hitachi Global Storage (HGST) recently announced that it is pursuing the mass production of helium-filled hard drives. The culmination of six-plus years of research and development, Hitachi’s engineers have come up with a workable solution to craft a sealed enclosure to contain the helium and internal drive hardware over the long term and in a way that can be mass produced. While the company is not ready to talk specifics or announce individual products, HGST (Western Digital) is going on record in stating that its helium-filled “hard drive platform” will offer up performance, power efficiency, and capacity improvements in a 3.5" form factor (with up to seven platters) sometime in 2013.

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Don't try this at home folks, it won't actually work :).

The current crop of hard drives have small holes on the top to allow air pressure equalization, as the drives are not a fully-sealed design (and is why dunking them in oil is a bad idea). The proposed helium-filled hard drives would change that design, by being fully sealed from the outside environment after being filled with the noble gas. Steve Campbell, CTO at HGST stated the following in the company's press release:

 “The benefits of operating a HDD with helium fill have been known for a long time. The breakthrough is in the product and process design, which seals the helium inside the HDD enclosure cost effectively in high-volume manufacturing,”

But why exactly is helium better for hard drives? In short, the gas is one-seventh (1/7) as dense as the air around us. This reduction in density allows for the platters to spin faster, or at the same spindle speeds at today's drives while experiencing less resistance and turbulance from versus an air-filled hard drive. Thanks to the reduced drag force, Hitachi can pack the platters closer together, which means that it can place more platters into the 3.5" hard drive form factor than ever before – up to seven with the current design. Further, the motor does not have to work as hard to drive the platters which results in quieter operation and more power savings. HGST also claims that using helium allows for better thermal conductivity, and allows the helium-filled hard drives to run up to 4°C cooler than an equivalently-configured air-equalized drive. Granted, 4°C is not that much of an improvement when looking at a single drive (or even a few in a desktop system), but it can add up to some decent cooling savings when these drives are utilized in datacenters.

Hitachi Global Storage does not yet have any specific products to announce publicly, but the company did offer up a few performance numbers that certainly seem promising – an in line with the company's goal of reducing the "total cost of ownership," or TCO. In addition tot he temperature improvements, the company claims up to 23% power reduction versus air. And when HGST factors in its seven-platter design, they have managed to bring the Watts-per-Terabyte (W/TB) 45% versus current drives. Assuming the helium-aided hard drives use the same (or more) amount of platter area as the company's previous drives, Hitachi/Western Digital could offer up to 7TB hard drives when combined with the company's 1TB per platter areal density improvements.

It has the potential to get even better, however. Should the engineers be able to integrate Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) – similar to what Seagate is pursuing – helium hard drives could offer up approximately 85TB 3.5" drives thanks to the additional two platters. Previously, Seagate envisioned up to 60TB HAMR hard drives in the 3.5" form factor. Those numbers are fairly far off in the future (and theoretical), however. On the other hand, Seagate believes that 6TB HAMR hard drives are reasonably close to public consumption, and if a HAMR drive could also benefit from the extra platters, potential spindle speed improvements, and power savings of using helium, I think 8TB+ is not out of the question while using less power than a traditional air-equalized (not sealed) 6TB HAMR-equipped hard drive.

Extremetech does bring up an interestng point about pricing, though. Mainly that helium is much more expensive than simply using the air around us! And as it is used up, it will only get more expensive, which are likely costs that will be passed onto consumers. Fortunately, it should not be too much of a premium that customers would have to pay (over a traditional hard drive) because a 3.5" hard drive will need only a small amount of the helium gas to realize the benefits, according to PC Perspective's resident storage guru Allyn Malventano.

What do you think about the prospects of a heluim-filled hard drive? Will we see such devices within our lifetimes, and just how much will these things cost? I suppose we'll have to wait until next year to find out!

Source: HGST