Western Digital launches 10TB Ultrastar HE10

December 3, 2015 // 12:06 p.m.

Tags: #10tb #hard-drive #helioseal #helium #hgst #hitachi #mechanical-hard-drive #pmr #seagate #smr #ultrastar #ultrastar-he10 #western-digital

Western Digital has announced that shipping of its 10TB HelioSeal spinning-rust hard drive has begun in earnest, beating rival Seagate to the high-capacity punch.

Designed by Western Digital's HGST subsidiary - formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, prior to its acquisition - the Ultrastar He10 10TB drive was announced back in September last year, but shipped in only sample quantities to interested customers. Using a combination of HelioSeal technology, which replaces the air inside the drive with helium to reduce friction and improve heat transfer, and shingled magnetic recording (SMR), the drive was positioned as the ultimate in high-density storage and at a 23 per cent lower power draw than the company's previous-generation, lower-capacity drives.

Now, the company is ready to ramp up production. Interestingly, that includes ditching the SMR technology from its sample run: the company's retail-ready version instead uses perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), the technology SMR was designed to replace, with no explanation for the switch yet provided by the company.

'Our HelioSeal platform has defied next-generation expectations around capacity, reliability and power in HDDs,' criwed Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing at WD's HGST division, of the launch. 'We were the first to recognize the benefits of helium and have pushed the boundaries while others are scrambling to catch up. The Ultrastar He10 represents the third generation of our HelioSeal line. It redefines enterprise capacity HDDs, showing the industry where storage devices need to go, to stay in front of the future that data growth is hurtling towards.'

The Ultrastar He10, WD claims, boasts a 25 per cent increase in capacity over the second-generation HelioSeal range while dropping power draw by 56 per cent per terabyte compared to air-filled drives. Customers including Netflix and Photon-X have come forward in support of the new drives, but if you're expecting to see on on retail shelves any time soon you may be disappointed to hear that WD is concentrating its efforts on enterprise users and pricing has yet to be confirmed.

The company had already announced a lower-performance archive-centric 10TB drive earlier this year, with the Ultrastar He10 representing its first mainline storage product to hit double-digit terabytes.

UPDATE:
WD has confirmed that it intends to sell both the archive-centric SMR and mainline PMR 10TB drives alongside each other, for two different use cases. 'The SMR drive announced in June was for a very specific use-case and limited distribution -cloud & OEM - since SMR-based ecosystems are not widely adopted in the enterprise,' a WD representative has explained. 'The company has not "ditched" the SMR technology. The Ha10 SMR drive is available to interested cloud and OEM customers. Western Digital Corporation is working with key strategic partners to enable the ecosystem. For customers who do not have full control of the host software stack, we anticipate that full hardware ecosystem maturity will be in 2016.'

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