Seagate Joins the Helium Hard Drive Club

Posted on January 14, 2016 By Pedro Hernandez


Now, there are two makers of hard drives filled with helium.

Seagate this week announced a 3.5-inch, 10 GB enterprise hard disk drive (HDD) to rival a similar model that HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, started shipping last month. Like HGST, Seagate's chief technology officer, Mark Re, views the new drive, dubbed 10TB Enterprise 3.5 Capacity HDD, as a way for cloud data center to deal with increasing demands for online storage.

"Cloud-based exabytes are expected to reach 60 percent of the data center market by 2020," wrote Re in a company blog post. "The 10TB helium drive is perfect for this space and an important step in our strategy to build a broad and flexible product portfolio."

Based on technology used to create the company's 10th-generation nearline drives, Seagate's 10TB Enterprise 3.5 Capacity HDD "specifically targets the fast-growing cloud-based mega data centers — providing maximum storage capacity with the lowest power and weight," stated Re.

In addition to the energy-saving attributes of the lighter-than-air helium gas – less friction means less power required to spin up the platters – Seagate incorporated its PowerChoice technology. The feature allows enterprises to reduce the power requirements of their storage systems, improving input/output operations per second (IOS) per watt ratings, particularly while the HDDs sit idle.

"Digital-environmental sensors improve reliability by measuring humidity, pressure and temperature inside the drive, and our hermetic-interconnect technology enables higher-data-rate heads and higher pin counts," added Re.

The drive, available in both available in both a 6 Gbps SATA and 12 Gbps SAS flavors, feature seven platters and 14 drive heads. It carries a 2.5 million-hour mean time between failure (MTBF) rating.

As to why Seagate didn't get in the game sooner, Re couldn't resist ribbing the competition.

"While others rushed to market with 6TB- and 8TB- based helium products, we were able to leverage our existing technology to offer the same capacity air drives at much lower costs," Re continued. "Using helium, we're now able to pack as many as seven disks into the 3.5-inch form factor and thus deliver the industry's lowest power and weight, without sacrificing performance."

Seagate is already shipping its helium drives to select customers. Two major customers, device maker Huawei and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, have already put in orders, the company revealed.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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