Western Digital Infuses Consumer HDDs with HGST HelioSeal Tech - Increases Capacity to 8TB

Subject: Storage | March 1, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: WD, hgst, HelioSeal, He8, He6, He10, 8TB

Helium-filled HDD technology has been around for a few years, but since HGST launched their He series a couple of years ago, Helium has been stuck in the enterprise sector. Western Digital has been in a lengthy merger process with HGST, and I figured (hoped) that it would be only a matter of time before we saw Helium-filled consumer HDDs. I’m happy to report that time is now:

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The first product lines to see this expansion will be WD’s external offerings (My Book / My Book Duo / My Cloud / My Cloud Mirror / My Cloud EX2 Ultra) and a few internal lines (Purple / Red / Red Pro). Taking a look at the new housing for the 8TB Red:

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…we can tell that it appears to be the same HelioSeal tech used by HGST, right down to the external housing design. Here is an HGST He8 housing for reference / comparison:

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I’m excited to see He making its way down the product chains, as a sealed HDD enclosure significantly reduces environmental effects on HDD reliability and performance. Helium also means less air friction, causing less heat production and therefore less power consumption. While the capacities are higher, we suspect performance won’t be taking any large leaps with WD’s first generation of Helium filled Hard Disk Drives. We will be testing a few of these once samples arrive and will deliver a full review as soon as possible. Since it appears that Western Digital was holding off on their 8TB capacity point until HelioSeal was integrated, it's a safe bet that their other product lines will receive the same technology and capability in the future.

Full press blast after the break!


New Line of Storage Solutions Feature HelioSeal Technology for Optimal Performance, High Capacity and Added Reliability for NAS, Surveillance and Personal Storage

IRVINE, Calif. – Mar. 1, 2016 – Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), a world leader in storage solutions, today announced the expansion of its award-winning portfolio of performance storage solutions with 8 TB capacity drives for NAS, video surveillance and desktop external applications. Increasingly centralized, rich-content, which continues to grow in popularity among enterprises, small business and consumers alike, is driving demand for greater storage capacities.

     Launching throughout the first half of 2016, My Cloud® personal storage devices (My Cloud, My Cloud Mirror, My Cloud EX2 Ultra), My Book® external hard drives (My Book, My Book for Mac, My Book Duo and My Book Pro), WD Red®, WD Red Pro and WD Purple™ hard drives will all be designed with the new high-capacity configuration. Each storage solution offers purpose-driven engineering and HelioSeal™ helium-technology with the new 8 TB drives for maximum and efficient performance in the applications for which each model is designed.

     “We are committed to integrating high-performance, high-capacity and high-quality drives into all of our solutions,” said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing, Western Digital Corporation. “No matter what market or application, we have a solution - whether it’s for small businesses, channel partners, enterprises or end-users. Our goal is to deliver the best and most competitive solutions on the market.”

          The increase to 8 TB or 16 TB (with two 8TB drives in RAID 0) capacity applies to the following WD products:

External Hard Drives

·       My Book/My Book for Mac -– An external hard drive solution that provides complete backup and storage with USB connectivity.

·       My Book Duo/My Book Pro – Dual-drive external hard drive solutions which provide ultra-fast storage in RAID-0 and complete backup and storage with USB and/or Thunderbolt connectivity and up to 16 TB capacity.

·       My Cloud/My Cloud Mirror – A personal storage device that plugs into your router at home to provide consumers with their very own private cloud.

·       My Cloud EX2 Ultra – As part of the creative professional series of My Cloud products, the My Cloud EX2 Ultra provides high-performance two-bay network attached storage.

Internal Hard Drives

·       WD Purple – Engineered for 24/7, always-on, high-definition surveillance security systems that use up to eight hard drives and up to 32 cameras

·       WD Red – Optimized for personal, home and small business NAS (network attached storage) systems

·       WD Red Pro – Optimized for small business and enterprise class NAS systems with high performance and reliability.

Availability and Pricing
     My Book and My Book for Mac 8 TB is currently available at select U.S. retailers, distributors and through the WD Store. Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the My Book 8 TB (model #: WDBFJK0080HBK) and the My Book for Mac (model #: WDBYCC0080HBK) is $299.99 USD.

     My Cloud, My Book Duo, My Book Pro, WD Red, WD Red Pro and WD Purple 8 TB configurations will be available during the first half of 2016. More information about the WD product line, 8 TB capacity, and terms of the limited warranty may be found on the company website at www.wd.com.

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March 1, 2016 | 09:19 AM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla

Just one question: what is the diffusion rate of helium through the seals?

March 1, 2016 | 11:15 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The HelioSeal process is how they seal the drive during production in such a way that diffusion is negligible. 

March 1, 2016 | 02:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My understanding is they may have a slightly lower air pressure inside the drive relative to ambient which helps solve this issue.

March 1, 2016 | 09:56 AM - Posted by [CoFR]Prodeous (not verified)

I'm eager to see the review of these. I hope you'll have the chance to compare them directly to HGST drives to see if these are just re/brands+firmware or indeed a new design.

Also wonder about the $/GB at this size. Reds are definitely itching my wallet..

Still eager to see what they have to offer and at what price.

March 1, 2016 | 12:13 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

I don't expect much for pricing. Probably at least 60/TB. We're still a long ways off from the 30/TB we were paying back in 2011. Granted the Canadian peso isn't helping things out for me right now either.

March 1, 2016 | 03:05 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

Ok I had to go back and check what current USD pricing is and sure enough you can get 4TB drives for 30$/TB. I don't think the CDN was at parity in 2011 but I think it was pretty close so it looks like at least in the USA HDD pricing has returned to 2011 levels. I stand corrected.

March 1, 2016 | 03:06 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

Ok I had to go back and check what current USD pricing is and sure enough you can get 4TB drives for 30$/TB. I don't think the CDN was at parity in 2011 but I think it was pretty close so it looks like at least in the USA HDD pricing has returned to 2011 levels. I stand corrected and depressed.

March 1, 2016 | 09:59 AM - Posted by Dusty

I'm guessing that the internal pressure of these has to be lower than sea level. Otherwise, what would happen if you take it to a higher altitude? Would it have to vent some He?

March 1, 2016 | 11:22 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

If the seal can prevent diffusion of He, it can more than likely maintain internal pressure at a constant regardless of ambient. I haven't seen it stated anywhere, but these should work just fine at high altitudes (maybe even higher than where a standard HDD would crash its heads).

March 3, 2016 | 12:53 AM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

the spec sheet would give the details. probably doesn't recommend throwing in a fire either or dropping from a 30-story building.

March 1, 2016 | 10:42 AM - Posted by -- (not verified)

spinning rust comment in....3....2........1

March 1, 2016 | 11:14 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I'd like to, but Helium is an inert gas :)

March 1, 2016 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That was a noble attempt at a joke.

March 1, 2016 | 11:20 AM - Posted by GPeterson (not verified)

Are these similar in quality/reliability to the Seagate Archival drives, or would they be better in some way? The pricing seems close at 8TB.

March 1, 2016 | 12:26 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Can't judge reliability just yet since both models are just launching, but He drives are known to be more power efficient and run cooler than standard drives. Heat plays into electrical component failure rates, so He drives (in general) may ultimately see an advantage.

March 1, 2016 | 01:46 PM - Posted by Jeremy (not verified)


These are NOT SMR drives like the Seagate archive drives correct? They don't have the write performance penalty like those?

March 1, 2016 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Correct. These are advanced format (4k) and can do random access.

March 1, 2016 | 02:19 PM - Posted by YTech

I expect these drives to be expensive, since last I heard there's still a He shortage. When the demand increases, so will the cost to produce it.

Apparently, natural gas deposits can contain up to 7% helium by volume. Which is not much. When there's less, the cost to refine it is higher as you want to minimize the waste as much as possible.

March 1, 2016 | 03:13 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano
  • One standard He tank fills 10,000 HDDs
  • Party balloons consume 19% of all He
  • HDD production takes <1% of all He

You're only filling the air space, of which there is very little on modern HDDs. We're literally talking pennies of He cost per HDD here.

March 1, 2016 | 02:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

WD lists $299 as the pre-order price. I'm thinking that's too good to be true, but I'm holding out hope.

What sort of capacities can be expect from He drives in the short term? (2016, say). Would it be worth holding out for 10 or 12TB models, or are they a while off?

March 1, 2016 | 03:14 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I'd say we are probably a year out from consumer 10/12TB. It's going to take ~6 months for WD to roll out just 8TB across all models.

March 1, 2016 | 03:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

8TB drives it'll be when I transition my server to UNRAID so!

March 2, 2016 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Hakuren

I think it's long overdue transition. I moved to drive pooling with 4 and 5 TB models. I just got fed up with days of rebuilding spinning media arrays. Now only SSDs in RAID 10 and nothing else.

On a personal note, I was considering HGST He, but price is so mad that I faltered at the first hurdle. I hope WD won't over-inflate price (it's special gas after all) as HGST.

March 1, 2016 | 06:04 PM - Posted by Cyclops

Please tell me these are available in Canada.

I just bought 10 x 6TB HGST Desktar NAS drives. I'm still within return window.

March 1, 2016 | 10:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Will we ever see another generation of Velociraptors? SSDs are still too small/expensive for some applications.

March 1, 2016 | 11:24 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

yea where did all the 10,000 RPM drives go? Once upon a time I had a few raptors in a RAID...that was some speed!

heck i've still got a few SCSI 320 15k drives kicking it for storage. Sound like little jet engines on a cold boot

March 3, 2016 | 12:59 AM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

first, many 10K raptors were 2.5" drives (in a 3.5" heatsink mount) so aren't comparable to regular 3.5" drives. Access times are proportional the the angular velocity, which in turn is proportional to the size (outer edge is faster).

So you can get the same speed as a 10K raptor with a 7200RPM HDD (block off the slower spinning part if you want, but that's just wasteful anyway).

The COST was also pretty high per GB. With the competition from comparable 7200RPM 3.5" drives and cheaper SSD's there really is no market for these 10K drives.

March 2, 2016 | 01:52 PM - Posted by thezfunk

I was disappointed in the read/write of the Reds so I went back to Black and consumer drives in my RAID. I never had an issue with them in the first place but I wanted to be proactive to avoid any potential issues. Now, my RAID is back to all non-NAS drives and I got my read/write speeds back.

June 7, 2016 | 09:48 PM - Posted by philips05 (not verified)

HGST HelioSeal Tech is more effective than previous version to store data as a digital-storage. This technology is very innovative and save data in a better way. This article shows the importance of this technology by describing its features and comparing it from previous version.

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