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A Breath of Fresh…

Helium?

The gas most commonly associated with balloons and chipmunk voices has recently seen use in Western Digital’s hardware. The memory provider unveiled a new set of their helium-filled drives this week, aimed at personal and small business use. While some of their sizing options are above and beyond what many users would care for, bringing these kinds of options beyond just server use can be a step in an uplifting direction.

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Just like their predecessors, the new hard drives come with SATA III interfaces. With a density one-seventh that of air, helium filled hardware reduces the drag force acting on the spinning stack and lowers fluid forces affecting the disks, enabling thinner platters in larger numbers. The family of WD’s hermetically-sealed hard drives will include 8TB options with 5400RPM or 7200RPM spindle speeds and looks to be optimized for mixed workloads. While the only helium platforms available are for NAS drives, the use of the gas leads to speculation that Western Digital is working on more inexpensive helium-filled platforms. Hopefully, this will lead to helium adaptations of their high-performance HDDs currently on the market for desktop use.

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