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Seagate adds helium HDD to Enterprise Capacity line

Seagate is following in HGST's footsteps with the Enterprise Capacity 10 TB drive, which replaces air with helium to boost storage density of the traditional drive form factor.

As flash dominates storage performance, Seagate Technology is instead concentrating on expanding capacity with its hard disk drives.

More than a year behind rival HGST, Seagate this month previewed a 10 TB HDD to market that replaces air with lightweight helium gas. The 10 TB Enterprise Capacity helium HDD is Seagate's answer to the HGST HelioSeal Ultrastar line that launched in 2013. HelioSeal drives start at 6 TB, and include 8 TB and 10 TB capacities.

Seagate also added an 8 TB drive to its NAS HDD family for small and medium-sized businesses.

Helium HDD supports seven disk platters, lower power

Seagate's helium HDD gives the highest storage density of its Enterprise Capacity product family unveiled in September. The vendor positions Enterprise Capacity helium drives for read-heavy workloads. Online retailer Alibaba and other hyperscale data centers are previewing the Seagate helium drive, which is scheduled for general availability in March.

Drives made with low-density helium gas can accommodate seven platters per chassis, compared with five platters in a conventional HDD. Using helium eliminates the need for separator plates and other drive components, enabling platters to spin with less mechanical friction.

Helium drives also use a smaller motor, which helps reduce power and cooling costs.

Barbara Craig, senior product manager at Seagate, said the vendor waited as long as it could before switching to helium for higher storage densities.

"This is our first drive with helium. We were trying to get as much [capacity] as we could out of our air infrastructure, which we did with the 8 TB drive. We knew we needed to move to helium to get to higher capacities," Craig said.

Seagate's move to helium follows a string of announcements by HGST to bundle its HelioSeal Ultrastar HDDs with storage vendors' hardware, including Coho Data and scale-out NAS vendor Panasas.

Craig said Seagate's helium drive uses different sealant architecture than HGST's die-cast HelioSeal technology. Seagate seals its drive with forged wrought aluminum to reduce porosity and provide uniform density.

Enterprise Capacity helium drives run the ninth version of Seagate's drive firmware, which embeds digital sensors to alert customers if humidity, pressure and temperature exceed recommended norms.

NAS HDD broadened with 8 TB model

Seagate also bumped the capacity to 8 TB for its NAS HDD line for small and home-based businesses. The 7,200 RPM 8 TB NAS HDD is designed to fit in tower enclosures with up to eight bays and 64 TB of storage per desktop form factor.

It is rated for data transfer up to 216 Gbps and optimized for streaming write workloads up to 180 TB per year. The NAS HDD products sit below Seagate's Enterprise NAS, which carry a workload rating up to 300 TB per year

NAS vendors Synology, Qnap, Asustor, Thecus, NetGear and Qsan are selling the new 8 TB NAS HDD in their systems. Seagate provides a three-year warranty and optional Rescue Data Recovery Services.

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