Hard Drives are certainly getting cheaper but there’s not much innovation going on on the inside, and with the recent rise of SSDs some might consider the regular HDD a thing of the past. And while that may hold true for some folks it doesn’t work at all for companies that need to store incredible amounts of data.
And this is where Western Digital’s new type of hard drive comes in. The company is announcing today they’ve created a new type of HDD, one that uses helium to optimize storage, energy efficiency and life-time.
Most people don’t think about it, but hard drives are comprised of disks that spin thousands or even tens of thousands of times every minute -having to overcome air drag and natural deterioration. Of course this creates a lot of wear and tear over time and that’s why hard drives fail. But Western Digital has now created hermetically sealed hard-drives that are full of helium instead of normal air.
Yes the gas used to float up balloons, make squeaky voices and power the Sun is also a perfect fit inside hard-drives. It offers a lot less resistance compared to regular air and it’s also completely inert, this opens up the possibility of creating HDDs with more disk platters – 7 instead of 5 – that use less electricity, are cooler, make less noise and possibly have a longer lifespan; and because of the way they're built they are also waterproof which means they’re a good fit for immersion-cooled data centers.
Western Digital is announcing today a new HDD that will launch with 6 TB of storage, instead of the usual four. The new type of hard drive is aimed at enterprise consumers and a few important companies are already testing it out, including HP for their server products, Huawei and CERN.
While this has a limited impact on regular consumers, it might not take too long before our regular desktop machines come equipped with helium-infused hard drives.