Helium lets Seagate store 10TB on its latest data-center drive

Seagate's 8TB NAS hard drive isn't the biggest thing going in mechanical storage today. The company has also announced a 10TB version of its Enterprise Capacity 3.5" drive. This data-center-oriented drive puts seven platters and 14 heads under helium to reduce friction and turbulence.

The Enterprise Capacity comes by its 10TB of space using perpendicular magnetic recording technology. All of those bits will be accessible over a SATA 6Gbps or a 12Gbps SAS interface. Seagate rates this drive for a 2.5-million-hour MTBF, and it further claims that this drive holds the lowest power-per-terabyte ratio and weight spec for its capacity.

These drives also come with Seagate's PowerChoice, PowerBalance, and RAID Rebuild firmware features. The Enterprise Capacity line is backed with a five-year warranty. Seagate says the drive is now shipping to "select customers."

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    • Redundant
    • 4 years ago

    If a string is attached, will it take me to the cloud?

    • rinshun
    • 4 years ago

    Why not vacuum? Since If you can keep the He inside the HD “forever” you have an hermetically closed drive.

      • sluggo
      • 4 years ago

      You need a gas of some kind in the mechanism to allow the heads to “fly” across the top of the platter. It’s not optional – without some kind of gas in there, the drives simply won’t work.

    • Deanjo
    • 4 years ago

    Worst part of these helium drives are keeping the damn things tethered. It’s a royal pain to keep picking the spares off the ceiling.

      • Blytz
      • 4 years ago

      hmmm, replacement micro atx form factor, legit hover board

    • vargis14
    • 4 years ago

    Wonder why they do not make a 3.5″ SSD for desktops that would allow for really large 5+tb SSD’s and just use the sata express connector on all the new MB’s. Heck they could even be vented if necessary.

    Wonder who will make Hindenburg HDD’s that use Hydrogen instead of helium J/K Oh the Travesty!!! it took out my Motherboard, tore off the CPU socket and my GPU!!!! Oh the Travesty!!

    KY jelly reduces friction great and possibly some turbulence πŸ™‚

      • Mr Bill
      • 4 years ago

      Hydrogen tends to leak through metals and is a reactive gas. Even ultrahighpurity hydrogen can corrode metal surfaces, and reactively scour traces of organics from one place and dump them somewhere else (maybe on the platter or read heads) over time.

    • Meadows
    • 4 years ago

    Now I actually worry for the future of HDDs. We’re already seeing 2 and 4 TB SSDs in the news and meanwhile HDDs could only barely double their maximum capacity over the same period.

      • Kougar
      • 4 years ago

      It’s a fun theory to play with. But the shrinkage of flash NAND surged over the last ten years because it used to be way behind the curve. In the last few the rate of node adoption has slowed greatly because they’ve caught up and slammed into the process node wall the semiconductor industry is steadily boring through. NAND reached 19nm three years ago, today it’s around 14-16nm.

      From here on out NAND will be shrinking at the same pace as the rest of the silicon industry, meaning the rate of decline in prices will continue to slow. It won’t stop because NAND capacity is still doubling thanks to new innovations like 3D NAND and TSV, and of course process nodes are still being developed. But the days of NAND silicon jumping process nodes every year or two are done. Basically HDDs will remain tangibly cheaper for the near future and that will keep them around past 2020.

      • Blytz
      • 4 years ago

      I read an interview with one of Sandisk’s top execs and he was predicting 256tb in SSD’s in the next decade with only 20-40tb in mechanical drives.

      I honestly believe when I upgrade my drive array in my NAS (8 bay, currently using 8TB drives) that I’ll be putting in SSD’s as I think they’ll be better value capacity by then.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      I think NAND capacity growth is going to hit the same fab slowdown wall as CPUs and GPUs were on now, the earlier speed of progress was because they were on older fabs than already existed. Now they’re treated as equal citizens and on the current high end.

    • albundy
    • 4 years ago

    it’s so light that it floats in the air!

    • Fonbu
    • 4 years ago

    I cant help but think of the Hindenburg disaster when I see a Seagate drive like this!

      • just brew it!
      • 4 years ago

      You’re thinking of hydrogen, not helium. Helium is non-flammable and inert. It’s most hazardous characteristic is that it makes your voice sound like Donald Duck if inhaled.

        • Fonbu
        • 4 years ago

        I gotcha πŸ˜‰ But I kinda used an analogy of a blimp (exceptionally large drive) and when she goes down (failure) it’s an extraordinarily loss of data. But when a rescue helicopter comes and saves the collateral damage its time to rebuild (RAID ftw).
        πŸ™‚

          • just brew it!
          • 4 years ago

          LOL…

          Oops, head crash… oh, the humanity!

        • Krogoth
        • 4 years ago

        Helium can cause asphyxiation if you breath in too much of it.

          • just brew it!
          • 4 years ago

          So can CO2. There’s more CO2 in a bottle of beer than in a helium-filled HDD.

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            CO2 actually poisons you if you breath in enough of it, about 10% concentration at ~1 atmosphere.

            • Brainsan
            • 4 years ago

            Ban dihydrogen monoxide!

            [url<]http://www.dhmo.org/truth/Dihydrogen-Monoxide.html[/url<]

          • Meadows
          • 4 years ago

          So can a lot of things. Your point being?

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 4 years ago

            One wonders if you can asphyxiate from letting out too hard and long of a “meh”.

          • Mr Bill
          • 4 years ago

          They actually add air into party baloon helium tanks because of this and it greatly decreases its effective lifting power. A relative got a small RC blimp for Xmas one year and it would not lift off with party helium. I told him to go into work and try again with welding grade helium; which did the trick.

      • chΒ΅ck
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3zW5LXUGVA[/url<]

    • willmore
    • 4 years ago

    It’s been a long time since we saw an HD benchmark. πŸ™ πŸ˜‰

      • willmore
      • 4 years ago

      Didn’t someone here recently say they worked for Seagate? Hey, show TR some love and get them some drives to play with!

    • TwoEars
    • 4 years ago

    Seagate is betting the farm on people wanting bigger drives. Have they bet wrong? If you want enterprise performance and reliability it’s typically better to go for raid-6 and a higher number of smaller drives.

    And where are all the SSDs? As the rest of the industry is starting to build cars Seagate is stuck selling horses with bigger and better carts. Is this Seagate’s swan song?

      • maxxcool
      • 4 years ago

      Hardly. I have 127 gb of family photos and videos and 1.6TB of static backups on a online backup service. you don’t want my data on a ssd-array.

      • shess
      • 4 years ago

      Read something like [url<]https://www.backblaze.com/storage-pod.html[/url<] . For datacenter-scale uses, storage-per-watt and storage-per-volume are the big issues. They want redundant storage AND drives which store more in the same space and power envelope.

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      This drive is marketed towards datacenters not customers.

      HDD are just the choice of platform if data density is the #1 concern.

    • RoxasForTheWin
    • 4 years ago

    I’ve always been curious, does the helium ever leak out? If it did, what would happen to the drive?

      • colinstu12
      • 4 years ago

      it’s totally sealed apparently.

      what I’m curious about is what elevations this works at. Anything happen to the drive if it’s at 10k feet?

        • RoxasForTheWin
        • 4 years ago

        I’m curious to see what would happen if it were to leak by force then, even if the drive wouldn’t normally leak it would still be interesting to see if anything happens.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 4 years ago

        Aren’t traditional hard drives also sealed?

        I mean, you don’t usually see dust inside of a drive (or maybe you do…).

        I suppose the only difference that it’s sealed with helium rather than typical atmospheric air.

          • Takeshi7
          • 4 years ago

          Traditional air hard drives are not sealed. If you look at one, they usually have a hole in the cover to allow air pressure to equalize. It is filtered though to make sure no contaminants get inside the drive.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 4 years ago

            That’s interesting. Then I guess the altitude issue is legitimate for these sealed Helium drives.

        • Waco
        • 4 years ago

        They seem fine at 7500 ft. I believe they’re rated to tens of thousands of feet, but I can’t find the spec offhand.

        • ludi
        • 4 years ago

        Assuming the differential pressure between the sealed interior and the exterior air pressure didn’t cause the seals to leak, nothing would happen — it should work normally. Traditional drives max out at a certain altitude because the ambient air pressure can no longer sustain the bearing cushion between head and platter.

          • just brew it!
          • 4 years ago

          If anything, they’re probably better at handling altitude changes that traditional vented drives.

        • orik
        • 4 years ago

        If these are totally sealed I’d love to see someone use one in a submerged cooling build. πŸ™‚

        • Geonerd
        • 4 years ago

        If they are sealed well enough to prevent the He10 from diffusing out over the course of years, they should withstand a mild pressure drop just fine.

      • Duct Tape Dude
      • 4 years ago

      Helium lets drive manufacturers use a smaller air cushion between the write head and the platter (so they can fit more platters in there) while decreasing air resistance.

      The rest is guesswork for me: I’d assume if the hermetic seal was broken, the drive would generate more heat, the heads would be further from the platter and wouldn’t function as well (if at all), and perhaps something would eventually crash into another thing with the increased vibration, turbulent aerodynamics, and heat. But maybe if it was stable enough and never received any physical shock, it could function a bit longer.

        • Pitabred
        • 4 years ago

        Next step: hydrogen!

        Seriously though, what he said. Helium is a very small molecule, and we’re talking about very small distances in modern drives, so it’s a lot more predictable in fluid dynamics than the primarily N2/CO2/O2 mix that’s in air. But you can’t get away without any kind of gas, because that’s how the heads “float” above the media, so you can’t just leave the drive a vacuum. That leaves helium as the least viscous and still non-flammable gas available for a gaseous drive medium πŸ˜‰

          • chuckula
          • 4 years ago

          Technically Hydrogen all by itself won’t ignite. You need Oxygen in the mix to get the Hindenburg effect.

            • Pitabred
            • 4 years ago

            Sure. But one leaky drive or manufacturing accident…

            • chuckula
            • 4 years ago

            AND HILARITY ENSUES!!

            • CuttinHobo
            • 4 years ago

            OH THE HUGE MANTEE! D:

            • ludi
            • 4 years ago

            A single drive wouldn’t contain very much hydrogen. A more relevant problem is keeping the hydrogen contained in the housing, and managing the risks during manufacturing and distribution.

            • Brainsan
            • 4 years ago

            Absolutely true. Parts at work are processed in a pure hydrogen atmosphere and extremely high temperatures every day. There’s a nitrogen purge cycle though, to prevent any unpleasantness.

            Helium is a very small molecule though, and difficult to keep sealed in. Vacuum system leak checkers use helium for this very reason.

          • Mr Bill
          • 4 years ago

          Hydrogen is “reactive” even without burning. It can diffuse through metals, embrittle metals, and can scour organic residues from one place and dump them elsewhere. Just ask anybody who is using hydrogen as a carrier gas in a GC (me).

      • just brew it!
      • 4 years ago

      I imagine it leaks out eventually. Helium is very difficult to contain over extended periods, due to its small molecular size. Wires (for the heads and motor) need to enter the sealed chamber somewhere, and these seals are where I’d expect trouble.

      The big question is, how long does it take for the helium to leak? Is it just barely longer than the warranty period, or is it long enough that the drive will tend to wear out or die from aging of other components (e.g. lubricants drying out) just like non-helium drives do?

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      It will have a higher chance of a header crash and there would be more fatigue on mechanical parts of the HDD. The helium just reduces the inertial air pressure of HDD. This is what allows HDD manufacturers to throw in more platters into the chassis.

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