New 6TB HDD from HGST designed with data centres in mind

Ultrastar He6 offers a 50 per cent improvement in capacity

HGST 6TB hard disk drive

Meet the first 6TB hard disk drive, one launched by HGST, a Western Digital Company, and designed to tackle the red hot hyperscale market where the demand for capacity storage rather than performance is exploding. The new drive is the first one to use helium rather than air as the medium in which the platters spindle.

Speaking to TechRadar Pro, Nicholas Frapard, Director of Sales in EMEA at HGST, said that the company expects a 30% annual growth in areal density for a foreseeable future with the company's helium-based Helioseal technology being the underpinning foundation on which other technologies, namely SMR and HAMR, can be added in 2014 and beyond.

A revolutionary hole-less design

The new hard disk drive offers a 50 per cent capacity increase with a 23 per cent reduction in power consumption which translates in a drop of nearly half in the power consumption per unit storage. The He6, which will be widely available from next year, will come with SATA and SAS interfaces.

It achieves its 6TB storage capacity thanks to a seven-platter design (we've asked HGST to indicate what platter capacity the He6 uses). Replacing air by helium reduces drag which in turn allow designers to reduce the space between the platters, allowing them to cram more platters and make these thinner.

Higher storage = Lower TCO

The knock-off effects include a reduction in power consumption (because less power is required from the motor), a drop in heat dissipation (up to 4 degrees cooler) and less noise. Also, the He6 doesn't have a breather hole, which means that unlike traditional drives, it is suitable for immersion cooling.

Being able to increase storage density which translates into fewer servers, less networking infrastructure, less space, less power and less cooling. Altogether, it slashes almost a third off the TCO thanks to a reduction both in CAPEX and OPEX.

HGST's case study, which looks at a 11PB deployment, lists eight racks, 160 enclosures, 1,920 drives consuming 14KW, occupying a surface area of 128 square feet and needing only 350 cables.

What's next?

Nicholas couldn't confirm whether WD will license Helioseal for its own hard disk drives. The HGST spokesperson also told us that there's no reason why 10K and 15K hard disk drives, part of the company's performance range, would not benefit from Helioseal. We suspect that smaller drives (2.5in models) will also use the technology.