As technology makes great strides continuously, innovations are rising every day to enhance our lives in various fields. The use of Helium has become popular in the digital world, acting primarily as a coolant in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines. It is now in high demand, though its supply makes it very expensive since only a few parts across the globe can produce the rare gas. However, its rarity does not stop its use from extending to hard drives. The revolutionary hardware device comes with many features, benefits, and challenges. So, here is what you should know about helium hard drives.
They use less energy than traditional drives
Helium’s density is 1/7 that of air, a feature that allows it to spin with less turbulence. Spinning splatters consume a lot of energy, therefore the less the turbulence with which they turn, the less the energy consumption. Matter of fact is the power consumption goes down by 23%, which helps to reduce your power bills.
They can store more data
Since the helium sealed drives operate with reduced turbulence, they allow installation of 7 platters instead of 5. Additionally, the fact that helium barely takes up any space facilitates the fitting of 7 platters. The drive stores data through the platters, therefore, the more they are, the more the data storage capacity. Seven platters increase the storage capacity of a drive to 6 TB, from 4 TB, while also expanding the server storage capacity and weight, per TB.
They operate with less noise and heat
Due to the lower turbulence, the seven platters hardly vibrate which translates to a reduction in noise by around 30%. Moreover, reduced turbulence carries with it the advantage of less heat production. Low turbulence leads to less friction between air molecules. Friction produces heat therefore when it goes down, so does the heat by about 4⁰C. The reduced temperatures mean that the data center will have less heat, and consequently less need for air conditioning. In the end, you get to enjoy lower energy bills.
Helium hard drives are difficult to make
Helium atoms are hard to contain since they are so small that they can escape through any material. It is, therefore, challenging to come up with a case through which the gas will not escape from to guarantee its lifespan. With such a challenge, creating the drive has been a long journey that has seen this technology come to life recently, with success. Still, despite the issues with making the tight case, it has the advantage of keeping the drive free from dust, humidity and any other thing that could contaminate the drive. Contaminants reduce the lifespan of a drive as well as increase its chances of failure.
Data recovery of helium hard drives can be challenging
The traditional hard drives equalize pressure in the chassis through a breather hole, which means that you can recover data from these drives in a clean, traditional room environment. Unfortunately, you do not have the luxury with the helium hard drives because they are hermetically- sealed. Consequently, recovering data from these drives is only possible in a helium-filled clean room environment. Failure to undertake such measures results in an increased risk of crashing during the imaging process.
The helium in the drives can leak
As mentioned above, developing a case to ensure no contaminants get into the drive is difficult. However, even if you are successful, keeping the helium inside the drive is also a considerable challenge. Since the atoms are small, they can easily leak which will, of course, affect the performance of the drive. Fortunately, technological advances have led to the introduction of leak detection hardware. For instance, if you suspect your drive is leaking, you can use a sensor-based leak detector. Unfortunately, it takes longer to clean up the leak after exposure, and it has a limited sensitivity. Mass spectrometers are more efficient and are more sensitive, detecting the slightest leaks and cleaning them up in seconds.
Storing data is a necessity in any industry, and when you get the chance to increase the capacity, you take it. However, despite the numerous befits that the helium-filled drives offer to business in particular, their high cost may limit their usage. Besides, the challenges that the firms creating these disks face may also limit the production. Hopefully, everyone will win in spite of the difficulties involved.