Western Digital’s mega-capacity 14TB helium-filled hard drive is now shipping

Western Digital announced it has begun providing cloud and hyperscale data center customers with the world's first 14-terabyte hard drive, through its HGST subsidiary. The HGST Ultrastar HS14 offers 40 percent more capacity and twice the sequential write performance of its shingled magnetic recording (SMR) predecessor. It also gives WD temporary bragging rights.

Earlier this year, Seagate said it would have 14TB and 16TB HDDs in 18 months, and a 20TB HDD by 2020. And just last month, Toshiba bragged about having 14TB HDDs very soon, after having announced an 8TB model this past August, currently its largest single-drive offering.

WD was able to beat both to the punch with a helium-filled HDD that offers a ton of capacity and 60 percent lower idle watts per TB than an 8TB air-filled drive. The company claims that reliability is not compromised by the added capacity, either.

"Over 70 percent of the exabytes Western Digital ships into the capacity enterprise segment are on helium-based high-capacity drives and continue to support customers with outstanding reliability, performance and value Quality of Service (QoS)," said Mark Grace, senior vice president of devices at Western Digital. "The TCO and reliability benefits of our HelioSeal platform are the foundation of our leadership in high-capacity enterprise storage."

This is not the sort of HDD that will show up in the consumer sector and end up in your gaming rig. However, these advances in capacity inevitably trickle into the consumer space.

Whether you want to trust so much capacity to a single drive is another matter. That is probably the biggest knock against increasingly capacious HDDs—while it is convenient to place so much data into a single storage container, if something goes wrong, you're looking at losing a lot of files in one shot. The obvious solution there is to have a backup scheme, if not multiple ones.

The Ultrastar HS14 is currently shipping to select OEM customers and is backed by a 5-year warranty. Customers can choose between SATA and SAS interfaces.