WDC's shingle-free stocking filler: A 10TB helium disk drive

HDD uses its head for gen 3 Helium drive areal density boost


Western Digital Corporation (WDC) has updated its Ultrastar He8 to the He10, providing the same capacity as the shingled HGST Ultrastar Archive Ha10 announced in June but without the shingling, meaning standard write speeds.

Compared to the He8 it has 25 per cent more capacity, and WDC says it has a 56 per cent lower watts/TB rating than traditional air-filled HDDs, a 2.5 million mean-time-between-failures rating, and a five-year warranty.

The drive has a second-generation, dual-stage HGST Micro-Actuator to enhance tracking accuracy and reliability in multi-disk enclosures. It is said to be "drop-in ready for all mainstream enterprise capacity applications." This presumably, partly at least, explains why WDC can now get to the 10TB capacity level without having to shingle (partially overlap) tracks and incur the penalty of slower rewrite speeds.

It rotates at 7,200rpm and is a classic capacity-optimized drive, with a 256MB cache and 249MB/sec sustained transfer rate. The previous He8 had a 205MB/sec sustained transfer rate. It can have a 6Gbit/s SATA interface or a 12Gbit/s SAS one.

There are Instant Secure Erase (ISE) and Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) options and the disk is built for 24 x 7 operation. To increase reliability, it retains a previous firmware version for safer firmware updates.

HGST_He10

HGST branding of WDC's 10TB He drive

We understand it has seven platters inside its helium-filled enclosure, with a calculated 1.428TB per platter and an 816Gbit/in2 areal density.

Who else has a 10TB disk drive? Not Samsung, not Toshiba, and not Seagate which does have an 8TB, 7200rpm drive. But that uses an air-filled enclosure. WDC's helium-filled casing enables thinner platters, from Helium's lower friction than air, meaning less turbulence and hence less stiff platters. This gives WDC, and its HGST brand, an extra platter in the same size enclosure, and therefore a capacity advantage.

We understand Seagate is preparing its own helium-filled casing technology and, when it does, then WDC's extra platter advantage will go away.

WDC says the He10 is available to enterprise customers as a bare drive, and will be available in HGST's Active Archive System for customers who require a petabyte-scale object storage system.

Will we see 10TB desktop drives? El Reg does not see any obstacle to that, beyond a marketing assessment by the WDC market bean-counters.

The He10 is shipping now, with 8TB and 10TB capacity points. Grab a PDF datasheet here. ®


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