Western Digital, in an effort to continue to drive sales and improve their platter based Hard Drive technology, has created hard drives that are filled with Helium according to All Things D. In a normal hard drive, there are between 3 and as many as 5 platters that spin over 7,000 times a minute. All that spinning causes a great deal of drag. And subsequently, that slows down the speed at which your data can be accessed. Western Digital is hoping filling the drives with Helium will help with this problem.
Since helium is lighter than air, it would allow the platters to spin with less drag, thus allowing Western Digital to build drives with even more platters in them than ever before, up to seven. Western Digital's first drives manufactured with this tech are 6TB, a step up from the previous behemoth for the company, the 4TB Black Series that launched last November. The new tech also cuts down energy consumption and that the drives run cooler. All incredibly important in today's large data centers. As All Things D puts it, "Deploying 11 petabytes of storage using current drive technology requires 12 racks and 2,880 hard drives, and about 33 kilowatts of power to run them. With the new helium-based technology, you could do it with eight racks and 1,920 individual drives, and run them on 14 kilowatts. The setup would take up less space, and require fewer cables, too."
It goes without saying that these large capacity drives will be out of consumer price range for a bit, but expect prices to come down as adoption picks up. For now though, some heavy hitters are putting them through the paces: HP is planning on putting them in servers, and Netflix is currently using them at their streaming data centers, CERN is trying them as well as Huawei, the Chinese smartphone and gadget maker.