Western Digital Launches World's First 10 TB Helium-Filled PMR HDD: Meet The Ultrastar He10


Eight years after Hitachi launched the first 1 TB hard drive, Western Digital sets a new standard by announcing the world's first 10 TB HDD.

To make matters even more Sci-Fi for the usual tech consumer, the company says it injects helium into the storage leviathan.

Western Digital recently unveiled its new Ultrastar He10, a 10 TB hard drive which has Helium inside instead of air. According to the manufacturer, another big advantage of using the Ultrastar He10 is the hard drive's combo of low power consumption and great reliability.

Tech enthusiasts might have heard about Helium-stuffed HDDs before, due to the line of products crafted by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST).

The storage manufacturer happens to be Western Digital's subsidiary, and it unveiled the Helium-packed 10 TB hard drive as early as March 2015.  

What sets the March and December variants apart?

The early drive used Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), while the recent Ultrastar He10 works on the traditional Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR).

While PMR behaves well in a regular use environment, such as on a home system, SMR fits better with rare usage, such as archives.

Hard drive manufacturers use Helium instead of air because the rare gas highly reduces friction between the mechanical parts of the storage device while writing or reading data. Such problems can be avoided by using solid-state drives or SSDs, but Helium-filled HDDs offer better stability and reliability during the storage gizmo's lifetime.

Due to the described benefits, Western Digital's HelioSeal HDDs were commissioned by big names in the tech industry, as they needed extensive storage and tiny energy footprint. Netflix is one of them.

The streaming service pointed out that it was a satisfied customer of HGST's HelioSeal drives, which previously came in smaller sizes of 4 to 8 GB.

"We've been using the HGST HelioSeal drives for a long time and not only do they give us more capacity, they have contributed to a lower overall power envelope and higher storage density, which has allowed us to maximize our data footprint and create a network that is optimized for TCO," said David Fullagar, director of content delivery architecture at Netflix.

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