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HGST's helium filled hard drive launch is just hot air

World's first helium filled HDD is coming next year
Thu Sep 13 2012, 15:40
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STORAGE VENDOR HGST, formerly Hitachi Global Technologies, has announced plans to release a helium filled hard disk drive (HDD) in 2013.

Hard drives traditionally run on air, but HGST claims that using helium, which is seven times less dense than air, will reduce power consumption by 23 percent while extending capacity by around 40 percent.

Although full details of the product are still to be revealed, HGST told us that each 3.5in disk drive unit will contain seven platters rather than the usual five, because it is able to place disks closer together.

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

"The benefits of operating a HDD with helium fill have been known for a long time. The breakthrough is in the product and process design, which seals the helium inside the HDD enclosure cost effectively in high-volume manufacturing," said Steve Campbell, CTO of HGST.

"We are excited about the introduction of this platform, which demonstrates HGST technology leadership and is the result of more than six years of development in materials science, mechanical engineering and process technology.

"Thanks to the hard work of our research and engineering teams, our initial pilot lines are up and operational, putting HGST in position to introduce this technology first into the market."

We quizzed the firm as to whether other companies were planning to deliver similar solutions, but it said it has a good "3-5 year head start" over its rivals. 

"Even if a competitor takes apart our solution when we begin shipping, and tries to copy it, they still need time to create all the components as well as mature their design, technology and process," HGST said.

There's no word on a release date yet, but HGST told us that the new HDDs will be available next year. µ

 

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