With current enterprise demand for data storage exceeding the rate of areal density improvement in hard disk drives, HGST researchers have invented a new class of HDD that enables continued reductions in the total cost of data storage.

The new drives are sealed and contain helium, rather than ordinary air. Because helium has one-seventh the density of air, reduced friction from the spinning disks lowers the electrical power consumed by the HDD’s motor. It also enables more disks to be packed closer together and allows data tracks to be spaced closer together on each platter, both of which increase a drive’s data-storage capacity. Helium HDDs also run quieter and cooler, requiring less external cooling.

As a result, HGST’s unique 7Stac™ technology enables a seven-disk, 6TB helium drive with the same physical size as today’s five-disk, air-filled 4TB HDD, but consumes 23% less power, or 49% fewer Watts per terabyte of data-storage capacity.

The key innovation in the helium HDD is HGST’s patented HelioSeal™ hermetic seal technology that prevents helium from escaping from the HDD and is compatible with high-volume manufacturing. This durable seal also permits their use with new immersion cooling systems, a new data center cooling technology. Conventional air-filled HDDs, which must “breathe” to accommodate changes in air pressure, cannot be immersed in any cooling liquid.

Experts estimate that hyperscale data centers using Ultrastar® He6 helium drives will take advantage of a total cost of ownership 22-33% lower than air-filled installations.

Future HDD improvements, such as shingled magnetic recording and heat- or microwave-assisted magnetic recording, are also compatible with HGST’s helium technology.