Shingled platters breathe helium inside HGST's 10TB hard drive

In a curious bit of scheduling, HGST decided to roll out a bunch of new enterprise storage products this morning, during Intel's IDF keynote and Apple's iPhone 6 reveal. But the company had an ace up its sleeve: the world's first 10TB hard drive. The unnamed drive is designed for "cold storage" applications, according to HGST President Mike Cordano, and it's sampling to customers now.

HGST combined a couple of cutting-edge technologies to achieve this new capacity milestone in a standard 3.5" form factor. The most intriguing is shingled magnetic recording, otherwise known as SMR, which lays down tracks in an overlapping fashion. This approach increases the storage density of the media, albeit with a performance penalty attached to modifying data. That handicap may not be too much of a concern for enterprise applications that use the drive in more of an archival capacity.

Unlike typical air-breathers, HGST's 10TB monster is hermetically sealed and filled with helium. The lower-density gas cuts down on internal resistance and turbulence, allowing the platters to be stacked closer together. HGST has offered helium-filled HDDs since last year, but this is the first time SMR has joined the party.

Cordano didn't detail the 10TB drive's spindle speed, platter density, or other specifics. However, he did express a great deal of confidence in the firm's "HelioSeal" tech. Moving forward, all future HGST enterprise drives will be filled with helium. The sealed environment is suitable for heat-assisted magnetic recording, too, though Cordano doesn't expect HAMR-based drives to be ready until 2017 or later.

HGST also revealed a couple of new enterprise drives based on traditional recording technology. The largest of the two is the Ultrastar He8 8TB, which uses the second-gen incarnation of HelioSeal. This puppy has seven platters, each with an areal density of 664Gb/in². The spindle speed clocks in at 7,200 RPM, and the available interfaces include SATA 6Gbps and SAS 12Gbps.

The Ultrastar 7K6000 6TB will be HGST's last "in-air" enterprise product—no helium mojo here. It has only five platters, but the areal density is slightly higher, at 703Gb/in². Versions of the 7K6000 with 2TB-5TB of storage will be offered with lower-density platters. The 7,200-RPM spindle speed is the same regardless of the capacity, though. So is the choice of SATA and SAS interfaces.

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