HGST helium-filled hard drive to ship in 2013


Storage vendor HGST is planning to launch a helium-filled hard disk drive (HDD) in 2013, which it claims will help datacentre operators reduce their cooling costs.

The product has been in development for more than six years, and is being hailed as the company's first radical major new product design since it was acquired by HDD vendor Western Digital in March 2012.

The vendor has not released exact details about the expected storage capacity of the new devices, but HGST has confirmed that each 3.5inch unit will contain seven platter drives, which is two more than the industry standard.

We have a significant technology leadership position with this product.

The inclusion of these two extra platter drives would not have been possible without the inclusion of helium, the company claims, as the low density of the gas means the drives can be placed closer together.

A helium-filled environment also imposes less drag on the spinning disks, which means the drives emit less heat and noise, claims HGST.

Speaking to IT Pro, Nigel Edwards, senior director for EMEA sales at HGST, said datacentre providers that swap out their existing HDDs for helium-filled ones should save on space and cooling costs.

"You can swap out a three-to-four terabyte drive, which features five disks, for a seven disk one and get a better cost per terabyte...in the same 3.5-inch [form factor]," said Edwards.

At the moment, Edward said HGST "is not aware" of anyone else with a similar product in the pipeline, but he shied away from declaring that his firm will be the first to market with such a device.

"From what I've been told, we have a significant technology leadership position with this product," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.