Western Digital Adds Helium-Filled 10TB Drives to Consumer, Business Lines


Over the last few years, we’ve seen helium-filled hard drives go from an out-there idea to a shipping solution. Until now, however, these drives were effectively confined to the enterprise market, where high capacities and reliability are paramount. The high storage capacity of helium drives has helped differentiate them from SSDs, since hard drives still have vastly lower prices per GB than any solid state storage on the market, but consumer access has been slower to roll out.

Western Digital did ship 8TB drives in its Red and Purple product lines last year, but it’s increasing their capacity up to 10TB and aiming to expand its addressable market.

“In July 2012, we introduced the WD Red line to address the unique performance, compatibility and scalability challenges facing home and small business NAS customers,” said Brendan Collins, vice president, devices business unit at Western Digital. “Five years and over 16 million WD Red family hard drives later, we continue to advance the platform, bringing our innovative HelioSeal platform and other advanced technologies that allow customers to meet their evolving private cloud needs.”

There are some specific differences between the WD Red 8TB and 10TB drives (WD100EFAX and WD80EFZX) and their WD Red Pro counterparts. The consumer drives spin at 5400 RPM, while the Red Pro products are 7200 RPM drives. The 10TB drives are equipped with a 256MB DRAM cache in both cases, while 8TB drives have a 128MB cache.

Fun fact: The first “large” cache drives, the WD800JB series, had an 8MB cache on an 80GB drive, meaning the cache was 0.8 percent the size of the drive. Today, 10TB drives have 256MB caches, which means the drive cache is just 0.03 pecent the size of the drive. Put differently, these WD Red drives are 125x larger than the old WD800JB, while the cache is just 32x larger.

Western Digital HGST's helium-filled hard drive

A diagram showing the advantages of Western Digital HGST’s helium-filled hard drive

Anandtech reports that the consumer drives are rated for 210MB/s and 178MB/s transfer speeds (10TB and 8TB respectively) while the WD Red Pro drives can manage 240MB/s and 205MB/s thanks to their higher spindle speeds. Oddly enough, the 10TB drives have lower power consumption ratings than the 8TB drives in all cases (Anandtech has a table of this, and has reached out to WD for additional detail).

Western Digital’s list price of $266.25 for the 8GB drive is comparable with other 8GB storage devices on the market. Newegg has a variety of drives with similar stats and market segments in that price range.

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This article and images was originally posted on [ExtremeTechExtremeTech] May 23, 2017 at 01:08AM

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