Seagate is finally joining HGST in its helium-filled hard drive efforts

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After a lackluster initial response to Western Digital subsidiary HGST’s efforts at creating helium-filled drives, Seagate has finally decided to break its prolonged silence. The drive maker is doing so with an as-yet unnamed and unlisted 10TB HDD designed to finally take on Western Digital/HGST, which have had helium-filled drives on the market since 2013.

It’s worth noting that while HGST was eager to comprehensively spill the beans on its hermetically sealed helium-filled hard drives, Seagate wasn’t nearly as detailed in the press release published on its website. However, what we do know is that the 10TB helium-filled drive offered by Seagate ships complete with seven platters, the same as in the 10TB drive from HGST, as well as 14 total heads. And, while it’s not clear yet how fast the spindle is going to run, 7200RPM is probably our safest bet.

Of the discernible information exhibited in the press release, we do know that the drive takes advantage of Seagate’s own PowerChoice tech for power conservation, but it neglects to mention just how much power is used by the hardware to begin with — or, frankly, to provide any concrete numeric data at all.

That’s aside from the Mean Time Between Failure, or MTBF, rate which Seagate claims is 2.5 million hours, a considerable improvement over the company’s drives absent helium, though exactly the same as HGST’s helium-filled drives.

Lastly, one of the most important takeaways from this announcement is that Seagate’s 10TB hard drive is expected to use perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) as opposed to shingled magnetic recording (SMR). In the past, SMR integration let Seagate keep up with HGST in capacity, but only by compromising on performance and longevity.

Before the influx of hermetically sealed enclosures, hard drives were jam-packed with regular air. Drive manufacturers, however, began to realize that because helium isn’t as thick as air, it doesn’t impede as much on the accelerating roundels, making it the better option for both power consumption and reliability. Naturally, it’s also the reason both HGST and Seagate have been able to squeeze seven, instead of six, full platters into their standard 3.5-inch drives without any kind of concession in performance.

While pricing and release information for Seagate’s 10TB helium-filled hard drives has yet to be revealed, they’re currently being tested at both Alibaba and Huawei, and have an expected retail price of $800.

Let’s just hope that with all that helium involved, it doesn’t get lost in the cloud.