Helium-Filled Hard Disks: Less Drag, More Storage

Western Digital is planning to launch a range of helium-filled hard drives. Not to make them lighter or higher-pitched, though: with a density one-seventh that of air, the gas reduces internal drag, in turn boosting performance.

PC World reports that filling the drives with helium provides such a reduction in internal friction that they run four to five degrees cooler than today's 7200 rpm drives. As a result they use 23 percent less power and allow the engineers to fit in seven disk platters as opposed to five. That means they feature a 40 percent jump in capacity.

The technology has apparently been in development for some time, with the main issue being finding a way to reliably keep the helium from leaking out of the devices. That's a nut they've cracked, though, and apparently the hermetically sealed disks can be used in more extreme conditions as a result.

According to PC World, Western Digital expects the drives to be available next year. [PC World]

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