Amazon in now selling the HDS Helium filled drives, and though Storage Newsletter made a completely unfair comparison by comparing the cost of Seagate desktop drives with the enterprise quality Helium Drive, the cost issues do compare.
I thought it best to compare the cost of the HGST Helium Drive at $739, with the cost of HGST enterprise UltraStar 4TB drive at $270. This is the correct comparison as both drives have a hard error rate of 10E15 bits. So the cost per GB for the helium drive is $739/6000 or $0.1232 per GB and the cost of an UltraStar is $.0675 per GB using pricing from Amazon.
Assuming a RAID configuration, even adding in the cost of the tray slot, power and cooling and the rest of the infrastructure, this cost difference makes no sense at 33% reduction in space. At a cost of ~1.83x, there needs to be some serious advantage for these drives other than moving from 4 TB to 6 TB. As I mentioned in this update there is not a great deal of information on the HGST site on the performance of the drive -- and there still is not.
So what happens to helium drives? What I have seen in the past is that big storage suppliers such as IBM, HP, Dell, EMC, HDS, etc., want and in the past have required two suppliers for a drive generation. This has been the case for at least a decade and a half. Seagate and Toshiba are the other two suppliers to these big storage buyers and neither has announced a plan for helium drives.
So one of two things is going to happen. Either HGST/WD is going to change the way the big buyers do business or the big buyers are not going to jump on the Helium bandwagon. I am sure the big suppliers have the details on the drive that should be public, but even with that I am betting that the reason you can buy them on Amazon rather from your RAID vendor or choice is that is that they are not going currently being qualified in a product. I actually have never seen an enterprise drive available to consumers before it was available and qualified by the big guys. You of course can draw your own conclusions.
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