Western Digital is now starting to ship its hard drives with helium inside in order to make more room for more storage in a single hard drive. HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, has announced that it is now shipping a 6TB hard drive known as the Ultrastar He6.
The new drive uses 23% less power and is 38% lighter than traditional 4TB drives. Sadly, these are only meant for enterprise use at the moment, meaning that you won’t be able to log on to Newegg and order yourself a 6TB hard drive that easily. Instead, these will be used for server use mainly.
So why does helium magically allow Western Digital to create higher-capacity hard drives? It’s because helium has just one-seventh the density of air, which reduces the turbulence caused by the spinning disks, as well as the heads that constantly move back and forth to read and write data. This not only allows more platters, but the reduced air drag also allows the hard drive to use less power to spin those disks and move those heads.
On top of that, because they use less power, the new drive also runs cooler than traditional hard drives, and sealing the air out also prevents humidity and dust particles from getting inside, which could possibly damage the hard drive at any time. Plus, a tank of helium goes a long way. Western Digital says that a tank of helium can fill up around 10,000 of its new hard drives.
While this new hard drive is for enterprise use only, the helium-based concept is just the start for Western Digital, and we’ll no doubt see higher-capacity consumer hard drives in the near future from the company. Right now, consumers can grab a 4TB hard drive, and Western Digital even makes a 6TB external hard drive out of two drives, but a single drive that has 6TB of storage space will come soon enough for consumers.
Currently, Netflix uses HGST hard drives, and the streaming service says that they’ll be implementing these new helium hard drives, which will allow its servers to run more efficiently and will save costs for the company.