New drive tech packed with helium

up-balloonsWestern Digital has released a new enterprise drive that allows for 10TB densities by packing itself with helium.

Normally high-density drives use a mechanical trick on the available platters by overlapping data. The method in question is called Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR). The read head is half the size of the write head, allowing for a smaller surface area to be covered, but since the write head is still full-sized, it can overlap the previous track. This increases storage density but is slower.

Standard drives use the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) method. In addition, due to the overlapping data, any rewrites require subsequent tracks to be rewriten too, significantly slowing down write operations. The end result is that SMR drives end up used for archiving.

Western Digitals WD HGST UltrastarHe10 10TB PMR offers 10TB densities using the industry standard PMR method. The drives will be released under the HGST Ultrastar brand as the He10.

Stuffed with helium which places less strain on the motor, the five or six platter drive that can spin up to 7200 RPM on less power. The drive is more reliable and comes with a five year warranty. WD states the drive can achieve a power efficiency of 0.5 Watts per terabyte (reading the notes, this is at idle), which is 56 per cent less power than the previous generation.

The new drives support both SATA 6.0GB/s and SAS 12Gb/s. Other enterprise features are available with instant secure-erase and self-encryption over SATA with TCG.

No word on price yet but because the drives don’t use SMR, it means that home-built NAS systems can support them.