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Western Digital’s new 10TB hard drive is full of helium, and you can’t have it

Western Digital announced this week that it inflated the capacity of its WD Gold hard drive line up to 25 percent by adding a new 10TB model. However, before you get too excited about adding a high-capacity hard drive covered in gold into your current system (which would look nice and shiny), this line not only focuses on performance, but power efficiency and reliability in the datacenter. They’re mostly ideal for storage arrays and high-availability servers.

“WD Gold hard drives are designed to handle workloads up to 550TB per year which is among the highest workload capability of any 3.5-inch hard drive,” the company states. “With up to 2.5 million hours MTBF, WD Gold hard drives deliver one of the highest levels of reliability and durability for yearly operation (24 x 7 x 365) within the most demanding storage environments.”

The big news here is that this new 10TB drive is based on the company’s HelioSeal helium-based technology. By using helium within the drive, there’s less internal resistance from the moving platters (discs), thus improving the overall performance, reducing the power draw, and providing a greater capacity. WD uses this technology in a number of its products including the WD Red line, the WD Purple line, and more.

HelioSeal was introduced by WD’s HGST arm back in 2013, a solid system that not only prevents helium leakage, but allows the manufacturer to generate millions of these drives at a reasonable cost. By using helium, there’s less turbulence as the platters spin, thus enabling more precise tracking and better reliability. And because the turbulence is lower, the hard drive maker can cram in more platters and heads for reading/writing data. This is how HGST originally debut an 8TB hard drive using a seven-platter design.

Related: Western Digital and Toshiba stack ’em tall with latest 3D NAND storage breakthrough

“Disks spin more easily in a helium-filled environment, resulting in less power usage — even with additional platters. Less power consumption means cooler operation and lower cooling requirements, reducing both energy costs and carbon footprint,” HGST said.

Netflix actually uses hard drives filled with helium. According to HGST, the video streaming company increased its overall capacity by 50 percent while reducing its overall energy usage by 23 percent. David Fullagar from Netflix added that the company was saving around 90 watts per appliance by using helium-filled drives, a huge savings when thousands of streaming appliances are constantly in use.

As for the specifications of WD’s new helium-based 10TB Gold drive, it’s a 3.5-inch 7,200RPM class model with a 256MB cache and a maximum data transfer rate of 249MB per second. It connects via a SATA 3 (6Gb per second) interface and features a lifespan of up to 2.5 million hours. The power requirements include 7.1 watts for sequential read, 6.7 watts for sequential write, 6.8 watts for random read and writes, and 5.0 watts when remaining idle.

“It is Western Digital’s on-going goal to provide superior reliability and compelling value to our enterprise customers,” said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing, Western Digital. “WD Gold drives are a key component of the overall WD portfolio, providing power efficient, capacity-optimized storage for a wide range of high workload applications. The new 10TB capacity enables customers to efficiently deploy higher-density storage solutions.”

The new 10TB drive can be purchased directly from the WD Store for an incredible price of $849 right here. The expected ship date is August 24.