Western Digital Introduces Consumer Helium Hard Drives

As always with most technology, helium hard drives arrived first to the enterprise segment. Over 3 years since HGST, a Western Digital subsidiary, first announced their helium-filled HDD, Western Digital is coming out with their first consumer-oriented helium hard drive. Sold under the WD instead of HGST brand, the family of drives goes up to 8TB, just a tad lower than the 10TB offered to data centres.

The family of helium filled 3.5” internal HDDs will be sold under the WD Red, Red Pro and Purple lineups. These are for NAS/RAID and surveillance system use respectively. The new helium drives will also find their way into My Cloud, My Book and My Book Duo external storage systems. Due to the helium fill, the Pro manages to sport a 7,200rpm spindle speed which is impressive for consumer 8TB drives. The Pro also features vibration protection for up to 16 drives in an enclosure while the regular drives only go up to 8. The regular Red and Purple are limited to their standard 5,400rpm.

While there are few specifications out yet, the drives should feature 1.33TB platters like their enterprise counterparts. As expected, the use of the HelioSeal and the more exotic fill does drive up costs, with prices about $70 more than Seagate’s Archive series 8TB using SMR technology. By using helium though instead of SMR to increase capacity, these WD drives will offer better performance.