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In the data center, every little bit that saves on cooling or power consumption helps, and to that end Western Digital’s HGST brand is shipping a new hard drive that’s designed for higher-capacity storage, higher storage density, lower power consumption, and lower cooling requirements. The HGST 6TB Ultrastar He6 features the company’s 7Stac disk design, claiming 50% higher capacity in a standard 3.5-inch form factor over competitive 5-platter, 4TB drives.

As we first wrote about last year, though, the premier feature of the new HGST platform is that it’s filled with helium (helium!). The Ultrastar He6 is hermetically sealed with HGST’s HelioSeal process and filled with helium instead of air. The company says that because helium is just one-seventh the density of air, there’s less drag on the spinning disks, and the reduced fluid flow allows for both disks and data tracks to be placed closer together, thereby enhancing the possible drive density and also reducing power requirements and noise.

HGST Ultrstar He6 helium-filled hard drive

HGST says that the drive boasts the lowest power consumption and best watts-per-TB on the market, besting the competition by 23% and 49%, respectively, and it’s even lighter in weight--about 38% lower weight-per-TB. The technology is slated for emerging tech such as shingled magnetic recording (SMR), heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), and cold storage.

What happens if the drive leaks? Bye bye data?


I don't think so. The point of the helium is to create a sealed environment wherein the drive can operate more optimally than it would in air. If it leaked, performance would certainly decline--perhaps precipitously--but the IT dudeskis would I'm sure get a warning and be able to shore things up before any damage was done.