Helium-filled hard drives balloon storage space

Nobody seems to much care about hard drives anymore. Whereas we previously waited anxiously for the next doubling in capacity, modern cloud storage and flash memory have turned the old trusty HDD into a neglected backup artist. And yet, all those photos and videos you upload to “the cloud” actually end up on a storage drive somewhere — and it’s those massive data farms that stand to benefit from Hitachi’s latest breakthrough in storage density.

This time the innovation isn’t about how many bits can be squeezed onto a given surface area but about the physics of the drive’s operation. By filling the drive enclosure with helium gas, Hitachi claims to have reduced drag inside its typical HDD to the point where it can add more platters…

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