HGST's helium-filled 8TB hard drives have finally reached retail, but anyone expecting a cheap upgrade will be disappointed by the enterprise-grade pricing demanded of the high-density devices.
HGST, the Western Digital subsidiary formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Solutions, announced a breakthrough in drive capacity back in September 2012
: filling the drives with helium instead of air, to reduce the drag on the platters and the head-positioning arm. The result: a drive that draws less power, runs cooler and allows for the platters to be placed closer together. The first helium-filled Ultrastar He drives boasted a 6TB capacity
, with promises that a combination of the HelioSeal technology and shingled magnetic recording (SMR) would allow for 10TB drives
in the near future.
The Ultrastar He family has been difficult to purchase, however, with only small volume production on most models. The 8TB versions are now showing up in the UK retail channel, but they come with a considerable price premium: storage specialist Span.com
is listing the drives on 28-day lead times at a whopping £685.20 - three times the cost of the cheapest 6TB drive, a Western Digital Green WD60EZRX, from the same site. For home users, then, the drives may as well be still unavailable; for enterprise users attempting to increase the data storage density of their racks, it remains to be seen if it's a premium they'll be willing to pay.
The release comes as HGST continues its plans to move its entire product range to HelioSeal technology, with a schedule that will see it abandon air-filled drives altogether by 2017 for its enterprise customers.