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News Link • Technology: Computer Hardware

Fast and Spacious Helium-Filled Hard Drives Ready for Liftoff

•,By Katherine Bourz
 Data-storage company HGST has begun making a six-terabyte hard drive that has a 50 percent greater storage capacity and uses about 20 percent less power than conventional hard drives. The secret to this leap forward in performance? Pumping the drives full of helium.

Helium reduces friction, vibration, and other mechanical issues that limit the storage density of conventional hard drives. It also makes hard drives less power hungry.

The hard-drive industry has been eyeing helium since the 1970s, but no company has ever been able to make it work because helium has a tendency to leak out of whatever container it’s placed inside—the same phenomenon that causes birthday balloons to droop a few days after a celebration. The result for a helium-filled hard drive is more serious: it’ll stop working.

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