back to article WDC loads its belt-fed drive cannon, blasts out disks 'n' cards galore

Western Digital Corp wowed analysts with exec spiel and five – or was it six? – product announcements. We have helium gas-filled drives, a 3D TLC NAND microSD card, two SSDs and a promised furiously fast flash platform array overflowing with IOPS. We'll start with the rotating rust and an Ultrastar He12, 12TB helium-filled …

  1. Pen-y-gors


    This has probably been explained before, the use of Helium in the drive for genuine performance reasons, or just a marketing thing? Obviously it makes the drives (a tiny tiny bit) lighter, but otherwise what's the advantage over another cheapper and inertish gas like Nitrogen?

    Seems a shame to lose that expensive He to the atmosphere when the drive is de-commisioned using the traditional cold chisel and lump hammer.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: Helium?

      The helium is less dense at a given pressure, so there's less friction between the platters and the gas inside the drive. That reduces heat produced and allows more platters to be packed into a given drive height.

      You wouldn't think the friction between the seemingly smooth (it's not, microscopically, of course) platter and the air or helium inside the drive would really make any difference, but apparently it does.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Helium?

      If it is for fiction/performance purposes (motor resistance = heat), you have to wonder why its also in the 8TB Reds with spin speeds of 5400rpm. Environmentally, its not good, the Earth's limited supply of Helium escapes into the outer atmosphere never to return, and is needed for medical purposes.

      For WD, in terms of the WD 8TB Reds, its cheaper to keep one production process, than use a different design, but it serves no purpose at 5400 rpm, as I can see. So cheaper for WD, at the expense of the environment. In circumstances like this, WD should be taken to task.

      The problem at the moment for prosumers running their own NAS, is 4TB-6TB 3.5'' External Hard disks are been replaced by 3.5''' SMR (Shingle Magnetic Recording) drives, which was bad, but now they are been replaced by 2.5'' Portable SMR Drives.

      The cheap way of extracting Internal Hard Disks from External Enclosures is on the way out because of this. 5TB 3.5'' 'sold as' PMR Internal Drives are setting around £180.

      6TB Internal 3.5'' PMR around £230.

      The last of the Toshiba 5TB 3.5'' 7200rpm 128MB Cache Canvio External USB Drives are been discontinued by the looks of it. Amazon have sold out, BT.Shop have sold out, and Ebuyer still have a few for £109.99. After that it seems the price will jump to £180+, by been forced to buy an l 5TB / 6TB Red Internal drive to get PMR recording, rather than Shingle Magnetic Recording Hard Discs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Helium?

        I wouldn't worry about running out of helium anytime for the next several billion years or so. Alpha radioactive decay is very natural and is in fact nothing more than an ionized helium atom.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Helium?

          Plus once we get fusion figured out (SOMEDAY we'll figure it out) we'll have all the helium we could ever want.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Helium?

        " the Earth's limited supply of Helium escapes into the outer atmosphere never to return, and is needed for medical purposes."

        The amount of helium in _one_ child's balloon is enough to fill at least 50-60 hard drives - and unlike a balloon, a metal case can be made relatively resistant to the gas escaping.

        Helium wouldn't be in short supply if we were using molten salt nuclear fission technology (LFTRs - and we should have, instead of abandoning the technology 40 years ago in favour of keeping water-driven steam bomb designs in service) or had working fusion reactors. As it is, 90% of what's tapped from oil/gas reservoirs is vented straight to the atmosphere and only a few wells actually collect it. Given a rise in price(*) more may start doing so.

        (*) This is likely to happen when the US finally stops dumping its Strategic Reserve on the world market, which has kept prices stupidly low for the last 2 decades.

    3. Calleb III

      Re: Helium?

      As others have explained it's used because Helium is much less dense than air. But they missed one of the advantages, which is not heat, but turbulence. At high speeds and fractions of a mm between plates the turbulence is a major factor preventing higher density.

  2. DNTP


    Alright, but I'm a senior executive for a large corporation and need an absolute top-of-the-line desktop to send emails to my executive assistant. Are you saying I can't get a helium-filled SSD?

    If you can't get me what I need, you don't belong in IT or in this company.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: Helium!

      "Are you saying I can't get a helium-filled SSD?"

      Of course we can get you one, though it'll have to be 3.5 inch form factor I'm afraid - the 2.5 inch ones are too light so we have problems with them floating away...


      1. Faceless Man

        Re: Helium!

        I think the problem is the materials used in the external housing. We should probably be using aluminium or even some kind of composite, rather than a thin layer of latex. On the other hand, it does come in a wide range of colours.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Helium!

          This whole thread is ballooning out of control.

          Let's twist it off, tie it off, & not let this inflate any further.


          Sorry, just clownin' around.

  3. Neil Spellings

    Not "the highest performance per rack unit in the industry"

    I can already beat their 9 million IOPS per U using a 4.3U HPE Moonshot chassis with 45 x cartridges each hosting 4 x 1Tb NMVE SSD drives..and this is using tech all available *today*

    1. luis river

      Re: Not "the highest performance per rack unit in the industry"

      SanDisk and HPE are partnership and complementary enterprises, the combining best world tech

  4. batfastad

    Instant Secure Erase

    "Instant Secure Erase" doesn't sound very secure to me.

    Better to do a few rounds of ---------------------------------------------------------->

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