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Helium Improves Energy Efficiency of Hard Drives

November 5, 2013 By Linda Hardesty

Energy Manage HGSTHGST is shipping a helium-based hard drive platform to improve data center capacity, power usage, cooling and storage density.

The new 6-terabyte Ultrastar He6 hard drive seals the spinning disks inside a helium-filled chamber.

According to HGST, effective cooling in data centers is becoming more challenging due to hotter components and less space for efficient airflow. One solution is liquid cooling, which is denser than air and can remove heat more efficiently and maintain a more constant operating temperature. However, traditional drives cannot be submerged as they are open to the atmosphere and would allow the cooling liquid inside, damaging or destroying the hard disk drive (HDD). HGST’s HelioSeal platform provides a way for liquid cooling as the drives are hermetically sealed and enable operation in most any non-conductive liquid.

HGST’s HelioSeal platform leverages helium, which is one-seventh the density of air.

Key businesses working with HGST to qualify the drive include HP, Netflix, Huawei Unified Storage, CERN, Green Revolution Cooling and Code42.

Moving forward, HGST’s helium platform will serve as the company’s main platform for new technologies like shingled magnetic recording (SMR) and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). The helium platform will also serve as the future building block for new, growing market segments such as cold storage, a space that HGST plans to address over the next couple of years.

With 6TB, 5.3 idle watts, a reduced weight of 640g, and running at 4-5°C cooler, the new Ultrastar He6 hermetically sealed, helium-filled HDD product increases capacity while lowering power consumption and operating temperature, says HGST. The Ultrastar He6 drive features HGST’s 7Stac disk design.


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