Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Helium filled drives make power bills float

Helium filled drives make power bills float

A lot of the hype around storage these days focuses on Solid State Drives (SSDs) and their generally lower power consumption and higher read speeds compared to traditional mechanical hard drives. SSDs are typically more expensive on a per-megabyte basis, but those costs have been steadily tumbling down over recent years.

Mechanical drives — that is, the more traditional, slightly heavier drives that use an actual read head that moves across a spinning disk to read ones and zeroes that your computer then turns into whatever it is you’re doing at the time — aren’t giving up without a fight, however. Western Digital recently announced its Ultrastar He6 hard drive range, intended at first for enterprise users — think big data storage arrays, everything called “the cloud” and you’re thinking in the right kind of spaces for now.

For mechanical hard drives, however, the Ultrastar He6 hard drives are just that little bit different. Mechanical drives still rely on read heads moving over physical spinning disks, but normally that’s done through standard air, even though the drives themselves are sealed. The Ultrastar He6 drives, however, are completely sealed, and that’s because the gaps between the heads, platters and other moving bits aren’t filled with air, but helium.

The intent here isn’t for a legion of IT workers with silly squealing voices, or indeed for data centres that can float. Instead, the Ultrastar He6 drives use of Helium is to take advantage of its considerably lower density than air, which means that there’s a lot less friction and turbulence inside the drive heads. Less friction means the heads have less work to do, and that means that the drives themselves consume less power, because they don’t have to work quite so hard. When you’re talking a major data centre with hundreds or thousands of drives, power savings can quickly add up like that.

There’s another benefit to a lower friction drive, too. Because there’s less friction it’s easier to stack individual drive platters more closely together, and this means the drives in question can accommodate more drive platters in the same drive space. The first drive in the series sports an impressive 6TB of storage in the kind of drive space that usually doesn’t exceed 4TB.

It’s not that likely that you’ll be using a helium-filled drive in your desktop PC any time soon, and on the laptop side things have gone almost completely over to SSDs to enable Ultrabook style form factors and lighter carrying weights. Where at a consumer level the benefits of these drives may be seen is in lower operating costs for online services — because if they’re spending less on power and storage space for the same capacity it could be passed on in the form of lower prices — and then in a year or two start heading more towards the consumer space.

Also — and I probably shouldn’t have to point this out, but just in case — it’d be a bad idea to crack one open to fill a party balloon. For a start, it would cost an absolute fortune.


Recent News

Microsoft recently launched its fourth console generation with the arrival of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. They follow the original 2001 Xbox, 2005’s Xbox 360 and 2013’s Xbox One generations, although many of those had smaller and bigger revisions throughout their lifecycles. Where prior Xbox generations launched with a single console, Microsoft’s

When you’re browsing the web, the one thing that you don’t want is slow. Nobody likes to be left waiting, but all too often we’re stuck staring at a half-loaded page or a spinning animation letting us know that something is happening – but rarely what it might be. Google’s Chrome browser currently has the

It’s been a massive couple of weeks for Apple, one of the world’s biggest computer hardware companies, with numerous new iPhone models and a slew of new “Apple Silicon” MacBooks hitting store shelves. Apple announced its first “Apple Silicon” Macs at its WWDC event mid-year, promising that it would release at least one Mac running

Getting online via Wi-Fi networks is easier than ever before, but it’s important to understand the risks of what happens when you press ‘connect’. Whether you’re setting up your network at home or in the office, it’s crucial you take the right steps to set up a secure network for you and anyone else who

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More