Faster & Lighter Helium-filled HDD
What are helium HDDs?
Helium-filled HDD are hard disks that leverage the characteristic lightness of helium gas to increase storage speed and density. As the density of helium is much lower than that of air (Air 1.29 kg/m3, helium 0.1786 kg/m3), the resistance to the magnetic heads is smaller and results in lower power consumption. Most importantly, the disks in the helium HDD are more compact, enabling the installation of more disks.
Helium-filled HDDs have been on the market for a long while. Indeed, HGST — which merged with Western Digital in 2011 — introduced the world’s first helium-filled HDD in 2013. This solution was aimed at high-volume data storage. At present, both Seagate and Western Digital manufacture helium-based HDDs. Seagate HDDs have a 20 TB capacity while Western Digital’s OptiNAND data center HDD, released in 2021, has a 22 TB capacity.
Helium-filled HDDs present different advantages and disadvantages. Helium-filled HDDs are quieter as their components are operated in helium not air and thus encounter less friction. Backblaze, a cloud storage and data backup company, insists that this also results in lower energy consumption. Air-filled HDDs have rapidly spinning disk platters that rotate varying speeds — such as 7200 rpm. The air inside adds drag to the platters and requires more energy.
Are helium-filled HDDs more reliable air-filled HDDs?
Replacing air with helium reduces the drag encountered by discs and results in a 20% reduction in required energy. Likewise, helium-filled HDDs are comparable in reliability to air-filled HDD. When using annual Failure Rate (AFR) as a guideline, helium HDDs and air HDDs are strikingly similar. Illustratively, Backblaze indicates that helium drives have a failure rate of 1.06 percent while air-filled drives have a failure rate of 1.61 percent.
An excellent AIOT storage solution
At present, the HDD industry is driven by the growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and AIoT market forces. Accordingly, storage industry innovations will push HDD producers to expand disk density and efficiency. Likewise, reduced future TCO will help customers address the demands of AIoT.
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