Hitachi GST has announced its new helium-filled hard disk drive platform. This radical technology is touted to reduce power consumption by around 23 percent and in turn helps to lower overall operating temperatures by up to four degree Celsius. The company plans to ship such HDDs by 2013.
Besides being able to reduce the operating temperature of the drive, a helium-filled 3.5-inch drive is able to accommodate two additional platters. This should result in capacities approaching 6TB. This represents a 50 percent increment in storage capacity from the company's Ultrastar 7K4000 enterprise 3.5-inch drive that has a maximum capacity of 4TB.
In a normal sealed HDD, the spinning motion of its platters will air turbulence that will disrupt both the platter and the read/write head's ability to remain on track. This phenomenon is known as track misregistration (TMR). This problem has been exacerbated as tracks on the platter are cramped closer as drive manufacturers attempt to increase the data capacity of the drive's platter.
By replacing the air with helium in HDDs, it reduces TMR of the drives. It took about six years for the engineers at Hitachi GST to design a drive structure that is able to withstand the change in pressure as helium is less dense than air. The new HDD structure also had to be able to keep the helium sealed inside. According to PCWorld, this new HDD platform technology will result in cost savings as a helium-filled 3.5-inch HDD is 50 percent cheaper per GB than a normal 2.5-inch HDD. Hitachi GST says that its upcoming helium-filled HDDs are ideal for bulk and cold storage applications in enterprise and cloud datacenters.