On April 10, 2019, a world-spanning network of observatories, known as the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, focused onto the M87 galaxy – creating the first-ever picture of a black hole. Western Digital Ultrastar Helium Drives had quietly captured data in these remote, high-altitude locations all over the globe. These drives contained technology that made them the only ones capable of doing the job; suspending hard drive “platters” in helium. This technology quickly became among the highest standard features in enterprise-level storage. Here’s why.
Helium is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, and one of the lightest as well; about one-seventh the density of air. Traditional hard drives are typically vulnerable to both temperature and altitude, but Western Digital’s HelioSeal technology provided lighter suspension by floating disks in helium.
In high altitudes, air-filled drives are prone to having the reader heads crash into the disks, since the thinner air creates less of an “air bearing” that the heads normally float on. When helium is introduced, it’s lighter density by nature is undisturbed by higher altitudes, and thus remains stable.
Turns out, that same technology increases efficiency, reliability, and value – even when they’re not operating on the tops of mountains. When the drives are allowed to spin more freely, they use less energy, cutting cooling costs in the process. Storage density also gets a massive upgrade; Western Digital was able to fit an 8th disk design into their Ultrastar lineup to fit up to 14 terabytes of data, within the same standard 3.5” drive format. Additionally, more data tracks could be utilized, since the lack of turbulence in helium drives allows for greater disk reading precision.
Helium Drives: Black holes to Backups
The same drives that helped capture the first image of a Black Hole are also optimized to operate in systems that are in use 24-7, and provide the maximum density possible for data storage centers. Not only will they operate more efficiently, but they are quieter and up to 45% lighter than traditional air-filled drives, making them a perfect upgrade for business owners looking for high performance and efficiency.
Want to learn more? Watch the video below. You can find the spectrum of Ultrastar products available here.