New Helium-filled, Largest Ever (5.6TB) Hard Drive
WD’s HGST division (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) has revealed some startling details about what it claims is the largest hard drive to-date. While HGST has yet to provide all the details, stiorage experts predict that the 5.6TB drive will take the form of a standard 3.5″ SATA drive.
For all the nitty-gritty, check out storagenewsletter.com’s take, but here’s a summary:
Because the drive’s filled with helium–which has 1/7 the density of standard air–the drive’s platters encounter much less drag as they spin, which means the drive’s motor has substantially lower power needs (a big plus for data centers). While HGST hasn’t addressed the drive’s performance issues yet, it’s also possible that a low-drag helium environment could lead to a higher RPM drive.
But the main benefit of helium’s low density is its reduction of the fluid flow forces (in essence, turbulence) on all of an operating drive’s internal components. It’s this substantial drop in shear forces and increase in thermal conduction that allows HGST to pack so many platters (seven) into a standard-sized 3.5″ drive. (Current 4TB drives use only five platters.) The “smoother ride” provided by the helium environment also means the drive heads can be even more precisely callbrated, which lets the drive’s write heads pack even more bits into the same amount of platter space as a typical drive.