HGST’s helium-filled He6 6TB hard drive selling for $800

HGST introduced the Ultrastar He6 6TB in November. The drive is not only the first to offer 6TB of storage in a single 3.5" chassis, but also the first to be filled with helium. Although the He6 was initially available only to a "select group of customers," it’s now popped up at a couple of online outlets. DiscountTechnology is selling the SAS version for $895, while Amazon partner Memory Expo USA has the SATA incarnation for $798. Both vendors have drives in stock.

Those prices work out to over $0.13 per gigabyte—about double the cost of HGST’s Ultrastar 4TB. The highest-capacity drives have always come with a price premium attached, though. Keep in mind that the He6 delivers 50% more storage than the largest 3.5" drives on the market right now.

Plus, you know, it’s filled with helium. The noble gas is much lighter than air, which reduces resistance and turbulence within the chassis, allowing HGST to squeeze seven platters into a form factor that typically holds no more than five. Despite the extra platters, the He6 is said to run 4-5°C cooler and consume 23% less power than existing 4TB drives. HGST didn’t back off on the spindle speed, either. The Ultrastar He6 spins its platters at 7,200 RPM.

$800 is still an awful lot to pay for a single hard drive, but the street price could fall if the He6 becomes available at a wider range of outlets. It won’t be the only 6TB hard drive on the market for long, either. During Seagate’s latest earnings call, CEO Steve Luczo promised to ship a 6TB drive "early next quarter." That drive won’t be filled with helium. However, it could use the Shingled Magnetic Recording tech Seagate introduced in September. Thanks to VR-Zone’s Chinese site for the tip.

Comments closed
    • 0g1
    • 6 years ago

    I’d rather buy two 3TB drives for $99 each.

    • crabjokeman
    • 6 years ago

    Hitachi engineers initially tried hydrogen, but the prototype caught fire and crashed. “Oh, the (lack of) humanity!”

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      Nice reference.

      Hydrogen’s problem is that is chemically reactive and tends to get fixed with some of the materials found in the hard drive. It doesn’t help that some of the reactions are “explosive”. πŸ˜‰

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        Not to mention it dissolves into some metals which can do ‘fun’ stuff.

    • techdrivers
    • 6 years ago

    [url<]http://www.tweaktown.com/news/35144/hgst-ultrastar-he6-6tb-helium-filled-hard-drive-available-now/index.html[/url<] This site lists areal density as 544 Gb/in.^2. Isn't 1 Tb/in.^2 possible with PMR (if not on the market yet)? It could mean that WD/HGST could produce 10 TB helium-filled drives... before resorting to shingles, and before switching to heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). [url<]http://phys.org/news/2012-10-tdk-hard-breakthrough-areal-density.html[/url<] Then you have this: 1.5 Tb/in.^2 PMR with "discrete track recording" a year and a half ago, at least in the lab... enabling 16 TB drives... no shingles, no HAMR. Can anyone weigh in on this? Is my math wrong, the economics wrong, or maybe the HDD manufacturers are still milking the floods?

      • Ringofett
      • 6 years ago

      As far as the physorg link goes, I’ve got them in my daily RSS feed, and almost every day there’s a supposed radical breakthrough, or even two or three, in storage technology and battery technology. Every other day or so, a quantum leap in solar panels. All in the lab.

      And for years now, even Elon Musk still uses lithium ion in his cars.

      I personally doubt they’re necessarily milking it.. actually scratch that, they’re not all going to kill each other on price before they absolutely must.. but I doubt it’s holding technology back, especially with SSDs stealing their glory. It all just takes years to get from lab to mass production. Memristors have been the next big thing now since 2008 and 6 years later, still nothing on the market. :/

        • techdrivers
        • 6 years ago

        Won’t deny that phys.org prints a lot of breakthroughs that are never seen, but if TDK can do it, the industry can do it. I saw another article that described the 1.5 Tb/in.^2 as HAMR/thermal, which likely won’t be appearing before 2015, but 1.0 Tb/in.^2 PMR should definitely be doable by now.

        Love the memristor hype. If it lives up to the hype it might be able to destroy HDDs, NAND, and DRAM, but HP keeps pushing back the release date, and they won’t be producing it themselves – that job goes to Hynix, and if memristors storm the industry it would cut into their existing DRAM business. So they’ll release it even later to avoid losses. At least hybrid memory cube (HMC) is going to appear this year.

    • dogchainx
    • 6 years ago

    Other than having a medium to allow the arms to “float” above the platters, is there any reason why they just don’t seal them with a vacuum, void of any gas inside the drive?

      • willmore
      • 6 years ago

      The gas in the drive provides the mechanism to keep the spacing of the heads and the platters fixed. Without it, there is nothing to regulate that distance and drives would simply not work.

        • delsydsoftware
        • 6 years ago

        And, that’s a design that goes back to the beginning of hard drives. I used to work with some electronic testing machines which used Phoenix drives, which were large drum-based drives from the 70s. The drums would spin up to high speed, and the read/write heads had little wings on them to generate lift. As long as the drum was turning, the head would float over the drum at a perfect distance.

        However, if power ever dropped for any reason and the head didn’t have time to park, the drum would spin down until the read/write head no longer had enough lift. The head would literally crash into the drum, and you’d hear this terrible whining and grinding noise as all of the data on one track was being ground out of existence. It was pretty spectacular, actually. The company I worked for was too cheap to get an IDE adapter board and modern drives, so they kept tracking down these drives on eBay.

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      HDD require “Bernoulli Effect” in order to work properly otherwise the headers will crash into the platters (not good)

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli%27s_principle[/url<]

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        Isn’t it: [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coand%C4%83_effect[/url<] really?

    • jdaven
    • 6 years ago

    I’ll wait for the Neon filled 12 TB version.

    • GTVic
    • 6 years ago

    Here comes the beef, it will be 5.4TB after formatting which makes it a 5TB drive according to standard numerical rounding rules. πŸ™

    Wait until they come out with a 10TB drive and it only holds 9.

      • techdrivers
      • 6 years ago

      [url<]http://drivebytes.anodal.org/[/url<] Base 2 lost the war a long time ago. Now 6 TB = ~ 5.4 TiB (tebibytes)

        • way2strong
        • 6 years ago

        It still bothers me that people let the HD manufacturers get away with that.

          • BIF
          • 6 years ago

          Yep, me too.

          • bobbintb
          • 6 years ago

          Technically, it is the software vendors that have historically been classifying it incorrectly.

    • anotherengineer
    • 6 years ago

    Hmmm if that helium can make the drive float on water…………sold!!!!!!

    • rika13
    • 6 years ago

    Will it float away if you set it down on the table?

    • odizzido
    • 6 years ago

    The seagate will be filled with roaches and a small amount of food. Saves money on the motor, but as we have now confirmed it makes the drives less reliable.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    This is more of a marketing gimmick and halo product than anything else. It goes in the same league as Extreme Edition chips and SLI/CF on a stick cards.

    Helium tech is never going to be cheap as normal air based models. Helium is kinda rare on the Earth and has massive demand outside of being use in HDDs.

    • smilingcrow
    • 6 years ago

    Mickey Mouse pricing as we’d say in the UK; not sure if that travels well!

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 6 years ago

    If you thought your noisy drive was annoying, wait ’til you hear it on helium! :p

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    “Jesus! You want to blow us all to sh!t, Sherlock?”

    (Meanwhile, Seagate are filling their drives with hydrogen)

      • chΒ΅ck
      • 6 years ago

      [url<]http://i.imgur.com/TAMRpUn.png[/url<]

      • Dashak
      • 6 years ago

      Lana: “What part of this are you still not getting?”

      Archer: “Obviously the core concept, Lana!”

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Two things popped right into my head, and probably most other gerbils’ heads:

    1. I don’t need 6TB.
    2. I don’t wanna pay $800 for my next HDD.

      • DarkMikaru
      • 6 years ago

      Nope! Gerbils such as my self were thinking….

      1. Yes we would love a 6TB drive
      2. Darn, who’s kids do I have to sell so I can afford 2 of em!

      Cause honestly, who wants to backup to DL DVD’s or across multiple smaller drives? Not this guy!

      6TB = 5,570GB’s (Roughly) / 7.96 = 700 DL DVD’s or 1,295 DVD’s LOL

      Amazing how far we’ve come ain’t it. Built a friend of mine a new computer and instead of buying a 16 or 32GB flash drive for 20 bucks she burned 20GB worth of family photos, movies & music to CD’s. I guess on the bright side they are forever preserved, so not all bad. But…. man….

      She was complaining about it taking forever to move her stuff off the old computer & onto the new one. I asked why didn’t she just buy a flash drive and she goes “you know I don’t know about these kind of things.” Uhhmmm…. how do you even respond to that. Anyway….

        • Voldenuit
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]6TB = 5,570GB's (Roughly) / 7.96 = 700 DL DVD's or 1,295 DVD's LOL[/quote<] Or ~45 BD-XLs (@ 128 GB/disc). Course, at the current price of BD-XL discs (~$45 a pop), that works out to about $2,025 just in optical media... That makes this Hitachi a bargain! πŸ˜›

          • DarkMikaru
          • 6 years ago

          Voldenuit – lol, great point! I had totally forgotten about Blu-Ray. Which reminds me, how come BD Burners haven’t dropped below $60 yet? Would love to add one to my HTPC but the el-cheapo in me won’t let me do it.

      • f0d
      • 6 years ago

      1. yes we do
      2. that is true – $800 is a bit much

      i dont think i would ever have enough hard drive space
      i thought that 40MB (yes Megabyte) was going to last me forever at one stage and i was so wrong about that, hard drives kept getting bigger and i kept filling them and eventually needing more space

      now my 3X 2TB and 3X 3TB drives are all in the red in windows explorer (full) i have been hoping these new drives would come out and FAST and at lower price points than $800 just so the 4TB drives would also hopefully lower in price so i can buy a bunch of 4TB drives for around $100-$130 to replace my 2 and 3 TB drives and give me some more much needed space

      price too high – yes
      do some of us need them? – YES

        • DarkMikaru
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, I’m not saying it’s not. Remember when the 3 & 4TB drives were 300 to 500 bucks. Now my current favorite, the WD Green 4TB is under 170. Still a little rich for my blood, as I’d want two of them. Plus, my current HTPC / Server has 9TB (4.5 Mirrored) of storage so its a want not a need. I guess my point is the price will come down in time so I didn’t feel it was necessary to say so. But agreed… 800 is whoa…

        Damn, I thought I had a decent setup. That is mad storage. But to be honest, I’ve also noticed that there are tons of duplicate files and file cleanup I need to do. I’d probably regain a TB just by doing that alone.

        Can’t wait to see benchmarks and power ratings.

          • gamoniac
          • 6 years ago

          I have some dupes, too, just not too badly for now. Then again, at some point I have to ask myself if it is worth spending 3-5 days of clean-up to save 1TB (~$50), or would it be better throwing in another 2TB (when on sale) and call it a day, if you system can take another drive, that is.

            • DarkMikaru
            • 6 years ago

            You sound like me man. lol Every week while at work I say, “This weekend I’m going to clean up my server and reorganize my files!” Get all excited, then Sunday night roles around…. NOPE. lol

            Yeah, buying another drive could be an option. But its also like buying a whole other car because you don’t want to clean the crap out of your existing one? Ehhh…. the El-cheapo monster won’t let me do that. I’ll get it cleaned up eventually…. maybe I should tell my girl to put it on her “honey do ” list. Then maybe it will get done, or else….

        • Liron
        • 6 years ago

        1. You’re right. I don’t need 6 TB. I need 8 TB. (to consolidate the 2 Steam drives into 1)
        2. So sad you’re right again :'(.

        Besides, Helium can escape almost anything. I’d have to wait a couple of years to see how well they managed to seal it in, in practice.

      • BIF
      • 6 years ago

      My backup drive is a 3TB and it does not have enough capacity to store a full two cycles of full and incremental backups.

      4TB is only a 33% increase over that. I’d be able to store two cycles, but not four, which would be my preference. I could probably get away with a single 2TB drive for storing a single cycle of my offsite backups, but when it comes to backups, the best way to make sure they get done is to do them the same way each time, to automate them, and to use homogenous backup media and not try to track seven different variables.

      Edit: And the above comments only pertain to my tower workstation. My laptop has 2TB of data and also requires (at the least) a 3TB or 4TB drive. So yes, bigger is better.

      Edit2: And I always avoid “green” drives for backups. They’re just too slow for backing up this much data in a timely manner.

    • crabjokeman
    • 6 years ago

    For $800, there should be a valve on it where you can suck the helium out and talk funny when the drive dies.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      $800 will buy you an awful lot of balloons to suck helium from.

        • Grigory
        • 6 years ago

        Really? There is a joke about $800 and sucking to be made and you go for balloons?

          • Scrotos
          • 6 years ago

          Hey, lighten up!

            • DrCR
            • 6 years ago

            Some may think he’s hot headed or dense, but it’s really an issue of being spaced out compared to ambient.

            [/mycrabbyjoke]

      • albundy
      • 6 years ago

      ahahahahahahaahahahha! nicely done!

        • superjawes
        • 6 years ago

        I read this comment as if the speaker had a high-pitched helium voice.

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    Yawn. Wake me up when its $0.1/GB

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]Yawn. Wake me up when SSDs cost $0.1/GB[/quote<] FTFY.

        • Meadows
        • 6 years ago

        I want an SSD on helium.

          • HTarlek
          • 6 years ago

          I want a Disney-branded Mickey Mouse Edition SSD on helium.

            • Deijya
            • 6 years ago

            I’m inhaling helium from a Mickey Mouse balloon while wearing Mickey Mouse ears. $40 well spent!

      • dashbarron
      • 6 years ago

      Man I miss that guy, he had great timing.

      Probably got banned for duplicate IP….

    • TwoEars
    • 6 years ago

    I have 4 Ultrastar 4TB myself and they’ve been perfect from day one.

    But as much as I like this and Hitachi I can’t help wonder how much longer until SSDs take over.

    3 years? 5 years?

    Even if they were able to make a 10TB single unit mechanical hard drive would you really want one? It’s an awful lot of data to put in one place and tie down to a single read and write head(s).

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      Data validation of a 10 TB drive mechanical is prohibitive. 1-2 days? And that’s with zero other activity on the drive.

        • TwoEars
        • 6 years ago

        Exactly, you get it.

      • f0d
      • 6 years ago

      yes i would want a 10TB drive
      heck i would take 2 or 3 of them

      hard drives are way too small and imo ssd’s wont catch up to mechanical hard drives for a long time (10+ years im guessing) and probably when it does happen a new technology will replace both of them thats faster and more dense storage wise than both

      i hate the “It’s an awful lot of data to put in one place and tie down to a single read and write head” argument as its been that way ever since the hard drive was invented
      i remember people telling me that “1GB is way too much hard drive to trust to a single drive”
      or 20GB
      or 120GB
      or 500GB
      or 1TB
      or 3TB
      now 10TB is too much?

      whenever a larger hard drive comes out someone always says “that too much space to trust to a single hard drive”

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 6 years ago

      Huh? If you’ve got that much data to store, then of course you’d want larger HDDs to store it on. As f0d says, the “awful lot of data” argument is meaningless. That’s what backups are for.

        • f0d
        • 6 years ago

        exactly
        no matter what size storage you have you should ALWAYS back it up
        even if you only have a 120gb ssd you should be practicing good backup procedures

        every single bit of data i have is backed up weekly (if you have more critical data then you really should be doing it daily AND with raid ALSO imo)

        the reason i do it weekly is because my data on my home PC isnt that critical, i might lose a few games or a few movies/tv shows by only doing it weekly which isnt too bad and is something i can live with (in the case of a hard drive failure)

    • Sargent Duck
    • 6 years ago

    I know hard drives are sealed to prevent dust getting in, but how common is it for these seals to have micro leaks (smaller than a dust particle)? Even if the leak is smaller than a dust particle, couldn’t the helium still escape?

      • alphacheez
      • 6 years ago

      Helium is often used as a leak detector in scientific vacuum apparatus because it can so easily “leak in” due to its small size.

      The seals on this drive are going to have to be seriously tight and clean to maintain the helium inside.

        • NeoForever
        • 6 years ago

        Also, helium makes leak detection relatively easy due to the high pitched squeal.

        (Sry I couldn’t resist)

      • Sigma0004
      • 6 years ago

      It’s hermetically sealed– one to preserve the helium, two to allow for submersion cooling in something like mineral oil or flourinert.

      • ChronoReverse
      • 6 years ago

      For that matter, what happens if I change elevations with this hard drive? Regular hard drives have breathing holes to deal with that don’t they?

      • swaaye
      • 6 years ago

      Actually typical hard drives are not sealed. There is a filtered air vent hole.

      • Datou
      • 6 years ago

      I really doubt that the seal is good enough to hold the helium. Is there a way to refill or is this just a stunt?

        • indeego
        • 6 years ago

        Refilling a drive with helium sounds like more of a stunt. But now I can see a secondary market where clowns fill up your hard drive.

        • Haserath
        • 6 years ago

        Depends on how long it takes the helium to leak out(if ever). 5 years down the road the mechanical bits would already be wearing out on a good portion of drives.

        Considering helium is being used for server drives, they must have confidence that it will last.

          • swaaye
          • 6 years ago

          I wonder if helium drives will get special effort at the recycling center to recycle the helium….

            • Krogoth
            • 6 years ago

            Not likely.

            Helium requires special materials in order to store it, since it has the smallest atomic radii out of any chemical elements and only reacts only under expectational conditions. The drives don’t contain enough of the substance to be worth the trouble.

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