Western Digital’s HGST subsidiary has been working on using helium in HDDs for over 10 years and today sees the first shipment go out. According to Computer World:
“HGST Monday announced that it’s now shipping a helium-filled, 3.5-in hard disk drive with 50% more capacity than the current industry leading 4TB drives. The new drive uses 23% less power and is 38% lighter than the 4TB drives. Without changing the height, the new 6TB Ultrastar He6 enterprise-class hard drive crams seven disk platters into what was a five disk-platter, 4TB Ultrastar drive.”
(via Computer World)
Helium produces less drag on the moving components of the drive, translating into less friction and lower operating temperatures—according to HGST, these drives run at 4-5 degrees cooler than today’s 7200rpm drives. All of that, plus keeping out humidity and other contaminants, should also lead to longer-lasting drives.
Unfortunately they’re only being sold to server and storage array manufacturers, and will in fact be used for cloud storage—Netflix is on company already employing HGST high-capacity HDDs in its data centres.