Western Digital Planning to Launch 7-Platter, Helium Filled Hard Drives

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Nastyman

...so that means if your voice gets all high and squeeky your hard drive is leaking?

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AFDozerman

I remember reading a statistic awhile back that helium is actually quickly becoming depleted on earth, although I don't remember why. For this reason, I don't know how long this could be implemented. One alternative, I guess, is Hydrogen with a density half that of He and easily attainable sources. Although some people can't seem to get the hindenburg out of their minds, in a sealed HDD, it would be relatively safe, assuming no Oxygen got in there to combust with.

Edit: Here: http://m.phys.org/news/2013-04-probing-helium.html

It seems helium is used a lot in the scientific community, for medical imaging, and for industry work, and that the best sources for it are actually running out.

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Ghost XFX

...It's dirt cheap and constantly wasted on frivolous stuff, compared to more useful needs. But every time I see reports like that, I become a skeptic. They said we'd run out off oil 30 years ago, but look at what happens. There's probably a HUGE source just waiting to be discovered out there....

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JosephColt

That's why we need to mine it from the moon for helium.

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vrmlbasic

How come we haven't been to the moon in 41 years?

I remember when we had a space program. It was just 5 years, give or take, ago...

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appleroxinhouston

mine for a gas on the moon... which has no atmosphere... great idea! (sarcasm)

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Typo91

actually the moon does have atmosphere in a sense.

Its drawn off by solarwinds.

Besides we already have a presence on the moon, its just highly classified.

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AFDozerman

The mooon has huge stores of Helium3 in its crust.

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rockntrumpet

You are correct. The world's supply of helium is dangerously low.

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Obsidian

That statement barely carries any weight. ;)

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AFDozerman

You so punny.

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Mindok

I wonder how much more difficult would it be to just create a vacuum around the platters etc. rather than filling with a lighter gas. Perhaps the case would have to be engineered differently to withstand the pressure difference and this would be cost-prohibitive?

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AFDozerman

I wouldn't imagine that would be too hard to do. Once the air is all removed, a two-piece body would pull itself together just from atmospheric forces. Making at least a partial vacuum *shouldnt* be too hard, either.

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praetor_alpha

That might work if not for the fact that the HD heads are suspended off the HD platters using air effects.

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Mindok

This author actually states "...a vacuum would require a stronger and more expensive frame to withstand the pressure":

http://www.techspot.com/news/50148-helium-filled-hard-drives-will-increase-capacity-and-efficiency.html

It's entirely possible that this answer is incomplete and aerodynamic forces are also important for hdd function. I honestly don't know enough about it.

Regardless, it seems highly unlikely that we'll see a vac'ed-out hdd anytime soon.

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vrmlbasic

If the heads can be suspended via "pneumatics" with a gas 1/7th the density of air then they're well on their way to getting HD heads that can hold themselves aloft in a vacuum.

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Typo91

one of the reasons heads float a set distance above the platter is the air cushion from normal air density.

of course that alone shouldn't free up much space.

I am more interested in how they solve the problem of changing hardware altitude. Air pressure varies with altitude and temperature, and up till now hard disks come with a filtered relief hole for equalizing.

Could this mean a sealed drive will undergo more stress from situations of high temperature and low altitude and so on?

Does helium not need to equalize because its low density?

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misterz100

I don't see the HDD market and SSD market competing anytime soon, I think people will always buy hard drives as a nice cheap way to store their junk. Also honestly with my gmaing rig with my HDD holding all my games and SSD as my OS drive I still load games before the round starts, usually before most people.

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wumpus

Bulk hard drive prices are ~20-30 times cheaper than SSD, but that number keeps getting smaller. I wouldn't think twice before buying another hard drive for storage, but I wouldn't sleep well if my job depended on people buying hard drives over SSDs.

The difference between load times on an SSD can often be pretty good (especially if the devs were either lazy and/or assumed SSDs). I wouldn't try to fit my entire steam library on SSD, but a current game or two can work so much better.

Finally, its hard to beat a RAID-5 of bulk hard drives (even at 5600rpm) for speed, reliability and price (per TB). Just don't use it as your OS drive.

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Random

If these drives are super heated and become plasma, it could cause a singularity that swallows the entire planet. Not good.

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praetor_alpha

The LHC was supposed to do that. A hard drive doesn't consume anywhere near that much energy. Good luck with that.

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Obsidian

An ad campaign is about to feature a hard drive floating away attached to a balloon with the TB number printed on said balloon. The tag line will be something like "Let WD Take Your Storage Higher" ...

Hopefully the drives never get hot enough to pop the seal on those enclosures. Super-heated helium becomes plasma - which will be the name for the "black" gaming versions of these drives.

The marketing writes itself.

WD needs to seriously step up their game in the SSD arena if they want to remain relevant. At least some hyper-caching hybrid drives should be more prevalent.

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vrmlbasic

What's so special about helium plasma? We see "air plasma" all the time.

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misterz100

Whoa that's acctually genius D:

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SirFrag

There's no way that the drives can consume enough power over low-amp 12v to head helium enough to create plasma, lol. That being said, I do worry about the seal on the drive breaking down and allowing the helium to escape.

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Weo

QC, QC, and more QC.

If it's another drive that gets hundreds of consumers complaining about failure (especially as original designs and factories are later outsourced for cheaper labor markets) these advances will be like the fanciest slide-ruler factory trying to keep relevance.