Friday, January 4, 2013

Helium-Filled Hard Drives - the HDDs of the Future

We have been using hard drives filled with air for long which consume more power, unknowing for us.

But here is something that may usher in a new era in the computer technology: Western Digital has announced that it will start selling helium-filled hard drives, instead of air filled hard drives as of now, which would be more power efficient and yield better performance. It is reported that helium inflates HDD capacity

And obviously, these helium-filled hard drives when hit the market will lift the Western Digital market share more than their competitors.

Current drives using perpendicular magnetic recording technology support up to 4 terabytes in capacity. Helium can extend that to 5 or even 6 terabytes. The weight or thickness of current HDD products can also be reduced by approximately 30 percent by stacking platters closer together.


The magic element here is helium, which is lighter than air and has a lower molecular weight. Given its nonreactive nature and lower density, helium is thought to improve the speed of the HDD tracking arm, enhance drive performance through faster spinning of the drive, and eliminate mechanical issues like noise, vibration and turbulence. A better conductor of heat than air, helium also helps produce a more uniform temperature on the platter to raise quality, and protects the coating of the hard disk head and disk to lengthen the life of the drive.

Such qualifications make helium-filled HDDs eminently suitable for storage-hungry systems such as enterprise servers and datacenters. Western Digital is likely to market a 5-terabyte version to these target markets, IHS believes.

A potential obstacle to large-scale production is cost, owing to the complexity of the manufacturing process. But costs could come down with the continued involvement of major HDD and component manufacturers.

Helium-filled drives are projected to create new opportunities for the HDD industry by increasing drive capacity before next-generation technologies, like heat-assisted magnetic recording, become available.

via iSuppli

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