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Western Digital has launched a 12 TB helium-filled hard drive. The new Ultrastar He12, now available, gives the San Jose, Calif.-based storage device manufacturer the 3.5-inch hard drive data capacity crown – at least for the moment.The HGST Ultrastar He12 is a fourth-generation 3.5-inch helium hard drive, featuring an eight platter design that allows 20 percent more capacity than seven-platter drives, and Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology to cram more bits onto the surface of the platter.
To put that into perspective, a typical mid-range laptop today ships with a 2.5-inch 1 terabyte (TB) hard drive. So, Western Digital has managed to squeeze in 12 times that capacity into a 3.5-inch enclosure.
The He12 is also more power efficient than its predecessor and offers a mean time between failures (MTBF) of 2.5 million hours. The high-performance models offer interface speeds of 12 gigabits per second.
Compared to 8TB air-filled drives, HelioSeal hard drives provides 50 percent more capacity, uses 54 percent less power (Watts/TB), and offers 25 percent greater reliability.

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Western Digital was able to pull it off by tapping into its “HelioSeal” process that seals helium in the drive. This allows it to pack in 8 storage platters to achieve the “world’s first 8-disk design [with] 12TB capacity,” Western Digital said in a statement. Ultrastar He12 comes with Instant Secure Erase (ISE) and Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) options and is available with either 6Gb/s SATA or 12Gb/s SAS interfaces.

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“The stable internal environment created by fourth-generation HelioSeal technology increases the capacity by 20% when compared to the 7-disk design of the prior generation,” Western Digital added. Although consumers will probably settle for smaller-capacity drives, cutting edge, massive-capacity internal HDDs (designed to be installed in a computer) are typically marketed to large business customers. And the Ultrastar He12 is no exception.
Western Digital did not indicate the price of the He12 in its press release but the top-line capacity means it won’t be cheap and only a limited amount will be available which will be mostly acquired by companies rather than for consumer based uses.

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