Seagate inhales, uses helium to create 10TB HDD

Seagate today announced its first use of helium in a hard disk drive (HDD), making it the company's highest capacity drive to date with 10TB of storage space.

The new Enterprise Capacity 3.5-in. HDD is being targeted for use in cloud-based data centers. The HDD contains seven platters and 14 read/write heads. It uses a hermetically sealed case and helium to create a turbulence-free interior, which decreases friction on the platters.

By using helium, Seagate was able to increase disk density by 25% over previous air-filled HDDs. The HDD also delivers higher performance and reduced power and weight, the company stated.

Seagate said the helium also enables the industry's lowest power per terabyte of capacity ratio and weight for a 10TB drive.

"At-scale data centers are faced with the challenge of efficiently storing massive amounts of unstructured digital data," IDC research vice president John Rydning said in a statement. "Seagate's new 10TB HDD for enterprise data centers is its first product to employ helium technology and will help data center customers to expand storage capacity economically."

HGST (a Western Digital subsidiary) has used helium in several of its data center-class HDDs, and announced its own 10TB drive, the Ultrastar He10, in December.

The Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD is available in both a 6Gbps SATA and 12Gbps SAS interface.

Li Shu, a senior expert in technical support for storage and research and development Web services company Alibaba, said because of unprecedented data growth, his company is "laser focused" on lower total cost of ownership of storage systems. The new 10TB HDD from Seagate will help them do that by increasing storage density in its data centers.

Seagate had been a holdout on helium but had said it was considering its use.

Last year, Seagate announced its first 8TB 3.5-in. data center drive using its shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording, where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing Seagate to squeeze more tracks together on a platter.

"With the amount of data today growing at an increasingly rapid rate, we are always on the lookout for storage solutions that offer better performance with lower overhead," Fan Ruiqi, president of storage products at Huawei, a Chinese maker of disk arrays systems. "The new Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD from Seagate helps us meet these demands by offering incredible capacity with improvements in power and weight allowing us to drastically reduce our costs."


Lucas Mearian

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