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Hitachi Fills Its Drives with Helium

When we think of ways to increase hard drive capacity, we've rarely considered the air inside the hard drive as being a limiting factor, but it is. The air inside creates drag on both the spinning platters and the heads hovering over them, lowering performance and requiring more energy to keep everything spinning. To ease this burden, Hitachi has spent six years researching how to use helium, which is one-seventh the density of regular air. as an alternative. Helium is so thin that it produces less drag and re - duces turbulence inside the drive, so the drive's motor doesn't have to work as hard to spin the platters and move the heads. Since the platters and heads can be moved much more easily, the platters can sit closer together and the data on the platters can be packed tighter, resulting in drives with up to seven platters instead of the current limitation of five. This should translate into a capacity increase of up to 40 percent in the years to come, with the added benefit of consuming less power, as well, since the drive won't have to bust its hump as much. Though the drives won't look much different from today's air-filled drives, they will be physically stronger since they are hermetically sealed to keep the helium inside. Current hard drives include a breather port that equalizes air pressure inside and outside of the drive. Hitachi has stated that the drives will come to market in 2013 we can hardly wail. - JN Hitachi Fills Its Drives with Helium

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