Will HelioSeal hard disk drives be more reliable…

HGST formerly Hitachi which is now owned by Western Digital has introduced the first 10 terabyte hard disk drive. Whilst it still uses standard perpendicular magnetic recording, the high capacity can be achieved with HelioSeal. This replaces the air found inside typical hard drives with helium in a sealed chassis.

The use of helium in hard disk drives reduces ‘head flutter’. This is vibration that is caused by air turbulence and makes the heads much more stable. Stability means that densities can be reduced even further, thereby increasing capacity. With seven platters in each hard drive and more planned, let’s hope these drive are very reliable, because data recovery is going to be a tough prospect!

By sealing the hard drive, debris cannot enter inside the chassis. Standard hard disk drives have a breather hole to equalise pressure. Over time contaminants can penetrate the breather hole filter and cause catastrophic failures. With it’s reduced vibration and sealed chassis, the He10 is advertising a massive 2.5 million hour MTBF (mean time before failure). So in theory this should be extremely reliable!

But reliability and capacity are not the only welcome features. HGST uses revolutionary media cache technology, which uses DRAM as cache without the data integrity concerns. Low power consumption and increased performance will benefit users immensely. Especially hard drives in servers. The increased capacity reduces rack space, offering reduced power and cooling.

On the downside, helium filled hard disk drives are expensive. Until the price can be bought down, the primary inhibitor to market share will be the cost. However with Seagate hot on HGST heals, soon we anticipate all the manufacturers adopting this new technology.