WD leapfrogs Seagate with world's highest capacity 10TB helium drive, new flash drives

WD today announced 8TB and 10TB helium-filled hard drive line

Western Digital's (WD) HGST subsidiary today announced it has added 8TB and 10TB hard drives to its HelioSeal product line, which hermetically seals in helium in order to reduce internal drive friction and power use.

WD also announced its first NVMe (non volatile memory express) product with a PCIe-attached flash drive; the company also announced a new 2.5-in solid-state drive (SSD).

WD also unveiled a new "flash fabric" software and hardware platform that acts as a multi-server volume manager, linking up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe drives for up to 38TB of pooled flash storage. HGST is rebranding Virident Solutions 2.0 software.

The HGST Virident Solutions 2.0 software can create a high availability, mirrored cluster that can be managed through an graphical user interface for shared storage applications like Oracle RAC and Red Hat Global File System that traditionally rely on dedicated SANs.

It also provides MySQL environments with greater levels of availability and efficiency where a single stand-by server can be deployed as an alternative to dedicated replication pairs, saving as much as 37% on total server count, according to HGST.

The Virident Solutions 2.0 software can be added to HGST's already-shipping Virident ClusterCache for SAN acceleration, Virident Share for Flash pooling and remote access to Flash, and Virident HA for replication.

"Companies that invest in flash are going to want to be able to scale out and share that capacity without compromising the performance of their flash," said Mike Gustofson, a general manager at HGST. "

Massive hard drive upgrade

Last November, HGST announced its first helium-filled hard drive, the 6TB (He6) model that broke all previous records for hard drive areal density.

Today, HGST said that by 2017, it plans to end production of air-filled hard drives for use in corporate data centers, replacing all of its models with helium filled products.

Along with the thinner gas's ability to reduce power use, the helium-drives run at four to five degrees cooler than today's 7200rpm drives, HGST stated. Sealing air out of the drive also keeps humidity and other contaminates from getting in.

HGST's announcement comes less than two weeks after Seagate announced its highest capacity enterprise hard drive, an 8TB model that bypassed helium for air.

Instead of helium, Seagate uses a technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR) to increase the capacity of its drives beyond 4TB. Seagate has said SMR holds the promise of creating 20TB drives by 2020.

With SMR technology, Seagate has been able to increase bit density on its platters by 25% or more. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing Seagate to squeeze more tracks together on a hard drive platter.

HGST's new 3.5-in 8TB drive uses traditional PMR technology, but the new 10TB hard drive marks WD's foray into SMR in conjunction with the helium gas. Both drives use a 12Gbps SAS interface. By using helium instead of air, HGST said it was able to stack 7 platters and reduce power usage at idle by 23% and watts per terabyte of capacity by 44% over its 6TB drive.

The 8TB drive is being marketed as nearline storage for faster access. The 10TB helium-filled hard drive is being targeted at cloud and archive "cold storage" applications because there are performance hindering implications related to the SMR technology, including file systems and software drivers, according to Dave Tang, general manager of HGST's Elastic Storage Platforms Group.

Both new drives come with a 128MB cache buffer, a five year warranty and a two million hour meantime between failures (MTBF) rating.

The new hard drives also come with WD's "Instant Secure Erase" feature, which overwrites data multiple times to ensure deletion.

Both 8TB and 10TB drives are shipping or sampling today.


HGST's new series of NVMe-compliant Ultrastar SN100 PCIe SSDs, integrate Toshiba's current MLC NAND flash chips. The SSDs come in 800GB, 1.6TB and 3.2TB capacities.

HGST's new Ultrastar SN150 PCIe flash module comes in a half-height/half-length form factor add-in card with 1.6TB and 3.2TB capacities.

"We expect to see significant growth in PCIe-based SSD demand, especially as businesses implement server-side flash in conjunction with Flash-optimized software and applications," Gustafson said.

The Ultrastar SN100 Series PCIe SSDs will offer 2X the performance and endurance over HGST's current family of FlashMAX PCIe SSDs.

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