Technical Paper

Microsystem Technologies

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 1699-1704

First online:

Thermal analysis of helium-filled enterprise disk drive

  • Jiaping YangAffiliated withData Storage Institute, A*STAR Email author 
  • , Cheng Peng Henry TanAffiliated withData Storage Institute, A*STAR
  • , Eng Hong OngAffiliated withData Storage Institute, A*STAR

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Enterprise hard disk drives (HDDs) are widely used in high-end storage systems for data center. One of key performance requirements for enterprise HDDs is data access rate, which demands very high rotational speed (e.g. 15 k rpm or more) to permit fast access time. To reach such high speed, the disk spindle motor draws more power to spin and hence the temperature of HDD enclosure increases due to large windage loss. It has been known, temperature rise is one of the most fundamental factors that affect the reliability of the disk drive. In order to develop high reliable enterprise HDDs, thermal management of enterprise HDDs needs to be optimized to improve heat dissipation. One possible approach is to fill disk drive with helium because of its lower density and higher thermal conductivity. This paper investigates thermal performances of helium-filled enterprise disk drives through FEM simulations with experimental validations. Windage loss and heat convection of the HDD filled with helium and air are analysed. The simulated and measured temperature distributions of one commercial enterprise HDD with helium-filled and helium-air mixture are compared with those of an air-filled one. The results show 41% reduction of temperature rise of HDD enclosure can be achieved by filling with helium in comparison with that of air-filled HDD. It is also projected that in terms of equivalent cooling capability like air-filled HDD at 15 k rpm, helium-filled HDD spindle can spin up to 19 k rpm, which will greatly increase data access rate by 25% for future enterprise applications.