Monday, November 4th 2013

HGST Ships 6 TB Ultrastar He6 Helium-Filled Hard Drives

HGST, a Western Digital company, today announced that it is shipping the 6 TB Ultrastar He6 hard disk drive (HDD). Key OEM, cloud and research leaders working closely with HGST to qualify the drive include HP, Netflix, Huawei Unified Storage, CERN, Green Revolution Cooling and Code42, as well as some of the world's largest social media and search companies.

Revealed in September 2012, HGST's cutting-edge HelioSeal platform provides a path for higher capacity storage for decades to come while significantly lowering customer total cost of ownership (TCO). Leveraging the inherent benefits of helium, which is one-seventh the density of air, the new Ultrastar He6 drive features HGST's innovative 7Stac disk design with 6 TB, making it the world's highest capacity HDD with the best TCO for cloud storage, massive scale-out environments, disk-to-disk backup, and replicated or RAID environments.
"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."

Through HGST's innovative and patented HelioSeal process, the Ultrastar He6 drive is the industry's first hermetically sealed helium-filled HDD that can be cost-effectively manufactured in high volume. The breakthrough 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, growing market segments such as cold storage, a space that HGST plans to address over the next couple of years.

"HDD industry areal density growth is not keeping pace with the rate of storage capacity growth in enterprise data centers," said John Rydning, research vice president, IDC. "HGST's proprietary, new, hermetically sealed, helium-filled HDD solution - the industry's first helium filled platform that simultaneously increases capacity while lowering power consumption and operating temperature - is intersecting the market at a time when IT managers are seeking out capacious and energy efficient new disk drives that will help to reduce the total cost of ownership of enterprise storage systems."

TCOptimized - Driving Down Data Center TCO with Helium
The amount of data that companies need to store is growing exponentially, but IT budgets remain flat. With 6 TB, a low 5.3 idle watts, a reduced weight of 640g, and running at 4-5°C cooler, the new Ultrastar He6 lowers data center TCO on virtually every level. Key TCO benefits when compared to a 3.5-inch, five-platter, air-filled 4 TB drive include:
  • Highest Capacity HDD on the Market; 6 TB, Seven-disk Design, Providing the Best TCO
  • Lowest Power Consumption with Best Watts-per-TB
  • 23 percent lower idle power per drive
    49 percent better watts-per-TB
  • Best Density Footprint in a Standard 3.5-inch Form Factor
  • 50 percent higher capacity
  • Lighter Weight than a Standard Five-disk 3.5-inch Drive
  • 50g lighter even with two more disks, offering 50 percent more capacity
    38 percent lower weight-per-TB
Pushing New Limits: Ultrastar He6 Enables Liquid Cooling in the Data Center - See the Demo at Cloud Expo, Booth 209
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 the only cost-effective solution for liquid cooling as the drives are hermetically sealed and enable operation in most any non-conductive liquid. Today, HGST is working with leading innovators in this space such as Huawei and Green Revolution Cooling.

HGST Ultrastar He6 Availability
The 6 TB HGST Ultrastar He6 hard drives are now generally available. For more information, please visit: http://www.hgst.com.
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18 Comments on HGST Ships 6 TB Ultrastar He6 Helium-Filled Hard Drives

#1
Assimilator
7 platters and it's lighter than a 5-platter drive? Quite impressive. Given that the platters are so tightly packed, have to wonder how resistant this one will be to drops and knocks though.
Posted on Reply
#2
W1zzard
He6 doesn't seem to reference the Helium-6 isotope (which is radioactive and would decay in no time).

The 6 in He6 probably means 6 TB
Posted on Reply
#3
GreiverBlade
Assimilator said:
7 platters and it's lighter than a 5-platter drive? Quite impressive. Given that the platters are so tightly packed, have to wonder how resistant this one will be to drops and knocks though.
unless its an accident no one shall ever drop a HDD, damn ... even by accident! specially a internal HDD ... the only HDD i dropped was a external 1tb WD (oh wait it wasn't my fault ... whatever)

oh wait ... earthquake...

and true a 7 platters lighter than a 5 platters, quite a feat, helium is the way to go it seems.
and i also think He6 refer to Helium and 6tb, more commercial than He 6tb
Posted on Reply
#4
Assimilator
GreiverBlade said:
unless its an accident no one shall ever drop a HDD, damn ... even by accident! specially a internal HDD ... the only HDD i dropped was a external 1tb WD (oh wait it wasn't my fault ... whatever)

oh wait ... earthquake...
Current hard drives can withstand between 250 - 900G which at the low end means a drop of around 7cm (so you shouldn't go playing catch with them). Will be interested to see if this drive is less resistant to G forces.
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#5
NC37
Well on the plus side they didn't release this with hydrogen. Then we'd be nicknaming them Hindenburgs. Give new definition to HD crash :laugh.
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#6
RejZoR
You can't contain hydrogen long term. Even helium is often problematic due to very small molecules.
Posted on Reply
#7
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
The heat inside the drive would likely cause hydrogen to combust if any oxygen got in or out. Helium is the only option.

Still, a new technology and only 6 TB on 7 platters? That's lower platter density than some of Seagate's offerings without helium. I'm not impressed, yet. If they were debuting with a 10 TB drive, I wouldn't be so...disappointed.
Posted on Reply
#8
GreiverBlade
NC37 said:
Well on the plus side they didn't release this with hydrogen. Then we'd be nicknaming them Hindenburgs. Give new definition to HD crash :laugh.
you made my day xD hell im in a good mood now, even 1hr before work ahaha :D
Posted on Reply
#10
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
W1zzard said:
umm no .. source? mine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen#Combustion
I agree. Even if it were to get that hot, it still needs oxygen to ignite. Are you telling me that hard drives run at >500°C, Ford? :confused:

Wikipedia
The hydrogen autoignition temperature, the temperature of spontaneous ignition in air, is 500 °C (932 °F).
Posted on Reply
#11
LAN_deRf_HA
Is the number of platters limited by the thickness of the platters? And are they as thick as they are because that's what it takes for data storage or is it so they don't rip to pieces when they spin up?
Posted on Reply
#12
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
W1zzard said:
umm no .. source? mine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen#Combustion
I mentioned oxygen for a reason; I edited the post specifically to add that after I thought about it a bit. If you seal hydrogen inside a hard drive and make sure there are no oxidizing components, the explosion (or at least fire) happens when oxygen either gets in or hydrogen gets out. Effectively having a bomb in your computer wouldn't go over well with any customer, especially not data clients. Helium is the best option.


Aquinus said:
I agree. Even if it were to get that hot, it still needs oxygen to ignite. Are you telling me that hard drives run at >500°C, Ford? :confused:
Next gen drives will have a laser in them to heat the platter to facilitate reading/writing. The laser itself would likely reach those temperatures. Obviously they wouldn't put hydrogen in drives like that but the above is still true: hard drives with hydrogen in them are problematical in many ways. Hell, they would even require special labeling to transport them because they do contain a flammable agent. Even a warehouse fire holding hydrogen-filled hard drives could get very dangerous, very quick.


LAN_deRf_HA said:
Is the number of platters limited by the thickness of the platters? And are they as thick as they are because that's what it takes for data storage or is it so they don't rip to pieces when they spin up?
Platters + heads. I imagine that the heads can be thinner in a helium environment because of helium's low density (less air to push). I'm not sure if/how the platters are smaller. It may be related to a lower RPM so they don't have to be as rigid. I don't know.
Posted on Reply
#13
L'Eliminateur
i need to chime on this on several points:
1) Why they went for low-density platters?, 1TB/platter has been available for some time(but not from HGST AFAIK, seagate and WD have them in 7.2K drives even!), that means the 7th platter is needed because of their "old" platter design, thus turning this drive into a gimmick.
True, the other players can "only" reach 5TB on 5x1TB platters, but HGST could've made a HUGE jump by releasing a 7TB drive that could put them well ahead for sometime.
Look at it this way, when they release 1.33TB platters(who knows when) that's 6.65TB in 5-platter conventional proven design, all the sudden a exotic drive like this is no longer needed...
Aaaaand if i put on my tinfoil hat(until someone pops the lid on one drive): They ARE 1TB platters but they've been CUT DOWN IN DIAMETER, which explains how can the drive weight less despite having an extra platter....

2) What's the rotation speed? :wtf:, it's BLATANTLY missing from ANY info page about this product, which tells me this is a 5400rpm drive, which compounds even further the point before "why didn't they put 1TB platters". I guess they went for 5.4K to reduce heat generation and to keep the spin-motor cooler and smaller(and way cheaper, also, less heat output on the motor driver), oh and also o reach those power savings figures...

3) reliability: i'm ging to hold for at least one generation, sure, these drives are super tested and all but conventional HDs have decades of expertise and they still manage to release terrible batches every now and then(deathstars anyone?, large fail rates on latest 3TB drives, etc) -granted not all of them are due to mechanical problems-(like seagate infamous FW bug on 7200.11 drives).

4) data recovery: your drive crashes horribly, you need to recover it's data and send it to a lab... hahah good luck finding a data recovery lab that will do this, my guess it's that it will take a long time before the recovery tech is available(it's one thing to need a clean-room, but how do you work on a drive that needs a pressurized helium atmosphere?, you'd need something like those "glove-boxes" to work on a drive) EVEN for those "tier-1" recovery companies in the US(those with direct support from manufacturers), but other smaller labs/outside US?, forget about it, and those tier-1s WILL have a huge surcharge on your exotic drive recovery to recoup equipment expenses

I'll wait(a lot) and see, they also mention it's "cost effective", anyone knows what's the price per GB on this?
Posted on Reply
#14
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
[quote="L'Eliminateur, post: 3009780"]2) What's the rotation speed? :wtf:, it's BLATANTLY missing from ANY info page about this product, which tells me this is a 5400rpm drive, which compounds even further the point before "why didn't they put 1TB platters". I guess they went for 5.4K to reduce heat generation and to keep the spin-motor cooler and smaller(and way cheaper, also, less heat output on the motor driver), oh and also o reach those power savings figures...[/quote]I wouldn't be surprised if it is less than 5400 RPM.
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#15
Drmark
Can't find them for sale anywhere?? Price?
Posted on Reply
#16
Chaitanya
Anyone knows whether Hitachi has managed minimise the diffusion of Helium?
Posted on Reply
#17
NC37
RejZoR said:
You can't contain hydrogen long term. Even helium is often problematic due to very small molecules.
Thank you for not having a sense of humor and getting the joke. :rolleyes::slap:
Posted on Reply
#18
xvi
[quote="L'Eliminateur, post: 3009780"]i need to chime on this on several points:
1) Why they went for low-density platters?, 1TB/platter has been available for some time(but not from HGST AFAIK, seagate and WD have them in 7.2K drives even!), that means the 7th platter is needed because of their "old" platter design, thus turning this drive into a gimmick.
True, the other players can "only" reach 5TB on 5x1TB platters, but HGST could've made a HUGE jump by releasing a 7TB drive that could put them well ahead for sometime.
Look at it this way, when they release 1.33TB platters(who knows when) that's 6.65TB in 5-platter conventional proven design, all the sudden a exotic drive like this is no longer needed...
Aaaaand if i put on my tinfoil hat(until someone pops the lid on one drive): They ARE 1TB platters but they've been CUT DOWN IN DIAMETER, which explains how can the drive weight less despite having an extra platter....[/quote]Cost, most likely.
2) What's the rotation speed? :wtf:, it's BLATANTLY missing from ANY info page about this product, which tells me this is a 5400rpm drive, which compounds even further the point before "why didn't they put 1TB platters". I guess they went for 5.4K to reduce heat generation and to keep the spin-motor cooler and smaller(and way cheaper, also, less heat output on the motor driver), oh and also o reach those power savings figures...
Could be marketing. People with purchasing authority don't always understand the things they're buying. PRs seem to usually skimp on technical details because they don't want the reader's eyes to glaze over. Could also be to keep heat/power usage down, like you say. They're mentioning a lower TCO and this could be how they're achieving it.
3) reliability: i'm ging to hold for at least one generation, sure, these drives are super tested and all but conventional HDs have decades of expertise and they still manage to release terrible batches every now and then(deathstars anyone?, large fail rates on latest 3TB drives, etc) -granted not all of them are due to mechanical problems-(like seagate infamous FW bug on 7200.11 drives).
It does have a good name brand to back them up. The data centers that this drive would appeal to likely have some kind of redundancy set up and wouldn't need to worry about drive failures as much as the average user. If it has a good warranty, companies might consider it despite it being somewhat new.
4) data recovery: your drive crashes horribly, you need to recover it's data and send it to a lab... hahah good luck finding a data recovery lab that will do this, my guess it's that it will take a long time before the recovery tech is available(it's one thing to need a clean-room, but how do you work on a drive that needs a pressurized helium atmosphere?, you'd need something like those "glove-boxes" to work on a drive) EVEN for those "tier-1" recovery companies in the US(those with direct support from manufacturers), but other smaller labs/outside US?, forget about it, and those tier-1s WILL have a huge surcharge on your exotic drive recovery to recoup equipment expenses
I don't believe anything said it was pressurized helium. The question to ask, I think, is whether or not the drive can run (if only long enough to recover data) with normal atmosphere instead of helium (I would suspect it can, just at slightly increased power consumption and decreased reliability).
I'll wait(a lot) and see, they also mention it's "cost effective", anyone knows what's the price per GB on this?
Not competitive with today's offerings, I'm sure, but that's likely not their selling point. I'm sure it's a very unattractive product for anyone other than corporate giants.

Some good points though.
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