Emergence Of New Hard Disks Technology

If someone travelled back from future and sees us using hard disk drives and USB sticks today, they would wonder about how we are using these devices, like the way find it hard to believe that we were using primary storage devices like floppy disks, CD, and Zip drives for our data storage needs. Inventors and researchers are pushing the envelope when it comes to capacity, performance and the size of the storage media. Technology is creating powerful storage media devices that we can ever imagine, and all these are designed to provide better storage, performance to the consumers.

Since, the inception of Internet and E-commerce bloom, data has been expanding exponentially, and the business needs huge chunks of data as well as creates large data.  Forget Giga Bytes data is stored in petabytes. In the near future, we are likely to save an incomprehensible amount of data in zettabyte if not domegemegrottebyte. For your information a petabyte is identical to one million gigabytes, a zettabyte is equal to one million petabytes, and a domegemegrottebyte is 1000 zettabyte. Massive data!!  Future for Storage media seems bright and talking about future storage media Western Digital (WD) released its 10 TB helium-filled Hard disk. Named as the HGST Ultrastar He10, the drive is the largest capacity drop-in ready drive, and it also provides the lowest power consumption per TB.

Western Digital (WD) Helium Hard Disk

Western Digital’s new 10TB hard drive uses HelioSeal technology; HelioSeal technology means the hard disk that had air-filled earlier will have helium is hermetically sealed inside the drive now. Helium provides less resistance than the normal air and allows more platters and still consumes less power than the normal hard disk. This 10 TB hard drive is the only helium drive that uses perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR). The power consumption for WD Helium Hard disk is 23% less on the conventional hard drive. Some noteworthy features of WD Helium Hard Disk are:

  1. As mention before these hard drives is filled with helium, the density of which is one-seventh of air. This less dense atmosphere challenges the conventional HDD’s, allowing for a dramatic increase in productivity, consistency and value.
  2. Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), Heat-Assisted Magnetic recording (HAMR) or the bit-patterned media (BPM) technologies complement well the HelioSeal technology.
  3. It offers 25% increase in capacity over its predecessors.
  4. The tight seal ensures that humidity, dust and other contaminants out which reduces drive failure rates and increase the life expectancy of the drive.
  5. As compared to traditional air-filled HDD’s it uses fewer watts/Tb estimated 56%, making it energy efficient.
  6. The new 10TB HDD Ensures high standards and offers a 2.5 million mean time between failures and a 5-year warranty.
  7. The higher capacity drives expect to take fewer servers to fill data.
  8. Great for data archiving purpose.
  9. It has seven platters and 14 heads; the platters are more than the conventional hard disk despite being no thicker than a normal drive (1-inch).
  10. It has an average latency of 4.16 platters, and 249MB/second (read) or 225 MB/second (write) transfer rates and seek time of 8ms
  11. It offers encryption and security options to prevent unauthorized usage.

It’s currently in 8 TB and 10 TB versions also with SATA-III or SAS interfaces. Aimed to provide cloud and enterprise bulk storage to the HGST Ultrastar He10, unlike the SSD’s that are being used for transactional workloads. HGST is also offering an Archive Ha series that uses shingled magnetic recording technology and it is not viable for constant usage.

The Ultrastar He10 Hard disk drive needs to be evaluated in few parameters to check its reliability, performance, and durability. We will be checking He10 on the following parameters:

  1. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): although the MTBF rates are a matter of debate. He10 makers do not consider MTBF as the measure of the reliability of the hard disk drives. In their website, it’s stated” We no longer measure the reliability of our hard drives using Mean Time between Failure (MTBF). Our current drive reliability is measured using Component Design Life (CDL) and Annualized Failure Rate (AFR). The Component Design Life of the drive is five years, and the Annualized Failure Rate is less than 0.8%.”**But HGST He10 states to have 2.5% million mean time between failures, the Enterprise based HDD like He10 calculates AFRs (Annualized failure rate) & MTBF’s assuming the hours of operations. Even these have constraints, though, as they think that only a certain amount of I/O is performed each year; no more than this sum and the life of the disk may again be shortened. In practice, these large hard drive data is going to have discrepancies like the common hard disk drives. The users going for big hard drives will be operating them for data centres, not for common usage. The usage of consumer drives isn’t unfamiliar, due to their lesser pricing, and the drives do work well enough in servers.
  2. Read-Write Cycle: He 10 uses PMR technique and is must faster than SMR, however not the much-proven record is available with us to prove that it is better than SMR. The areal density of PMR hard disks is in hundred gigabits per square inch.
  3. Storage Density: Ultrastar He 10 uses PMR and which can deliver more than three times the storage density than the traditional SMR. Perpendicular recording addresses “thermal” limit and enhances its areal density. The conventional LMR longitudinal magnetic recording has magnetisation in bits directed circumferentially along the track direction. Magnetic pieces in the perpendicular recording point down or up perpendicular to the disk surface. Thus making it better suited for large data storage.


Data centres face numerous challenges daily, and as the data centres capacity grows, the challenges grow as well. With the continuous effort of the innovators, the hard disk capacities have increased and also the problems associated with it.

Rising workload levels and higher reliability to lower cost of ownership pushes Enterprise storage to strive for higher performance and consistency. In unanimity; IT departments remain budget-controlled. Storage tiering provides an efficient methodology for merging these three, occasionally conflicting the goals. So far the performances of these drives are being monitored. As far as data recovery for wd hard drives is concerned as the reports suggest few drives had mechanical failures, which have been easy to handle. These high capacity HDD’s currently are not available for a standard user, so information/data about the HDD performance is not available, and one needs to wait and analyze the reports & reviews that will be available to access this HDD.

Adoption of the helium drives was a concern, but after shipping more than millions of drives over the last few years, it seems these drives have enthusiasts and is used intensively. For their energy savings and low-temperature features, these helium-filled hard drives are idyllic for Servers. While the direct impact on common consumers will be insignificant, the greater capacity, performance and storage design could still benefit the cloud services we increasingly dependent on.

**Source: Western Digital Website

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