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Monday, November 04, 2013
HGST Ships 6TB Ultrastar HE6 Helium-filled Hard Disks


HGST, a Western Digital company, is shipping the 6TB Ultrastar He6 hard disk drive (HDD), which uses helium instead of air inside to deliver benefits in capacity, power, cooling and storage density.

The density of helium is one-seventh that of air, which means less drag force acting on the spinning disk stack so that mechanical power into the motor is substantially reduced. The lower helium density also means that the fluid flow forces buffeting the disks and the arms, which position the heads over the data tracks, are substantially reduced allowing for disks to be placed closer together (i.e., seven disks in the same enclosure) and to place data tracks closer together (i.e., allowing continued scaling in data density). The lower shear forces and more efficient thermal conduction of helium also mean the drive will run cooler and will emit less acoustic noise.

Based on HGST's HelioSeal platform, the new Ultrastar He6 drive features HGST's 7Stac disk design with 6TB, making it the highest capacity HDD with possibly the best TCO for cloud storage, massive scale-out environments, disk-to-disk backup, and replicated or RAID environments.

HGST said it's been working with key computer manufacturers, cloud and research groups, including HP, Huawei Unified Storage, Green Revolution Cooling, Code42, CERN as well as some of the world's largest social media and search companies, to qualify the drive.



"With ever-increasing pressures on corporate and cloud data centers to improve storage efficiencies and reduce costs, HGST is at the forefront delivering a revolutionary new solution that significantly improves data center TCO on virtually every level - capacity, power, cooling and storage density - all in the same 3.5-inch form factor," said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing, HGST. "Not only is our new Ultrastar helium hard drive helping customers solve data center challenges today, our mainstream helium platform will serve as the future building block for new products and technologies moving forward. This is a huge feat, and we are gratified by the support of our customers in the development of this platform."

The drive features a capacity of 6TB using a seven-disk design, it consumes 5.3 watts (idle) and its weight is just 640g. Compared to 3.5-inch, five-platter, air-filled 4TB drives, the 6TB Ultrastar He6 hard disk drive consumes 23 percent lower idle power (5.3 watts), has a 49 percent better watts-per-TB ratio, and also offers a 50 percent higher capacity. HGST's new HDD is also running at 4-5C cooler than 3.5-inch, five-platter, air-filled 4TB drives; it is 50g lighter even with two more disks offering a 38 percent lower weight-per-TB ratio.

Data center designers and server vendors are continuing to pack more capability into smaller spaces, and with that, effective cooling is becoming a new challenge due to hotter components and less space for efficient airflow. One solution, which has been explored by many, is liquid cooling. Liquid, which is denser than air, can remove heat more efficiently and maintain a more constant operating temperature. However, traditional drives cannot be submerged as they are open to the atmosphere and would allow the cooling liquid inside, damaging or destroying the HDD. HGST's HelioSeal platform provides a cost-effective solution for liquid cooling as the drives are hermetically sealed and enable operation in most any non-conductive liquid. HGST is working with Huawei and Green Revolution Cooling to enable liquid cooling for its new drives.

The 6TB HGST Ultrastar He6 hard drives are now generally available. HGST did not release specific pricing for the drives.

Through HGST's HelioSeal process, the Ultrastar He6 drive is the first hermetically sealed helium-filled HDD that can be cost-effectively manufactured in high volume. The development of the hermetically sealed process is arriving just in time as key market requirements are colliding with HDD areal density constraints. According to IDC, areal density growth rates have slowed, and are expected at a rate of less than 20 percent per year from 2011 to 2016. Moving forward, HGST's helium platform will serve as the main platform for new technologies like shingled magnetic recording (SMR) and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) where HGST will continue to push the HDD areal density envelope. The helium platform will also serve as the future building block for new market segments such as cold storage, a space that HGST plans to address over the next couple of years.

Today's hard drive platters max out at 625Gbit per square inch, or the equivalent to more than 1TB of capacity per platter. HGST's (WD) rival Seagate sees SMR as having the potential to knock hard drive capacity out of the park with 1Tbit per square inch areal density. Seagate has plans to release 5TB hard drives based on SMR early next year and a 10TB hard drive by 2016 and 20TB by 2020.


Model(s)
  • HUS726060ALA640
  • HUS726060ALA641
  • HUS726060ALS640
  • HUS726060ALS641
  • HUS726060ALS644
Interface
SATA 6Gb/s
SAS 6Gb/s
Capacity (GB)
6TB
6TB
Form Factor
3.5-inch HDD
3.5-inch HDD
MTBF (M hours)
2.0
2.0

Acoustics

Idle (Bels)
2.9
2.9
Unload Idle (W)
5.7
5.3
Z-Height (mm)
26.1
26.1
Dimensions (width x depth, mm)
101.6(+/-0.25)x147
101.6(+/-0.25)x147
Weight (g, max)
640
640




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