HGST Ultrastar He8 HDD RAID Review (8x8TB) – 64TB Analysis on the Adaptec 8805 RAID Adapter

Big data is BIG. We create billions of gigabytes of data on a daily basis, from uploading a photo to Facebook or emailing a new project document, all this data is stored in data centers across the globe. Big data is usually divided between high performance and storage. While SSDs are much faster and help to greatly accelerate the analytics side of big data, they don’t offer the capacity value of HDDs quite yet. Thus, a storage tier of high density and high performance HDDs has been the medium of choice for mass storage solutions and is in high demand. Actually as of late, enterprise HDD sales have been thriving while consumer sales have been taking a hit.

Okay, so now that that has been said, what is all this talk about big data and HDDs? Doesn’t The SSD Review just test SSDs? Those are good questions. Our answer to them is simple. We were given the opportunity and we couldn’t resist. If someone offered to a test drive in their new Lamborghini, would you say no? We didn’t think so! So, today we will be reviewing the HGST Ultrastar He8, but we won’t be testing just one drive. Today we will be testing eight of them in multiple RAID configurations as well! That is right, 64TB worth of the latest and greatest enterprise storage! Go big or go home right?

HGST He8 MainHGST currently offers the highest capacity HDDs in the market at 8TB and 10TB. While their 10TB Ultrastar Archive Ha10 offers higher capacity over the Ultrastar He8, it is not designed as a drop-in replacement for traditional enterprise drives, it is designed for active archive use. The Ultrastar He8 on the other hand is meant to raise the bar in terms of capacity and power efficiency in cloud and hyperscale data center environments for typical workloads.

Not only are these drives great for use in data centers, but while slightly pricy, they are perfect for media professionals to store their HD and UHD media on. Media professionals are always looking for larger data stores. Some of the most popular solutions are to buy a 6 or 8-bay external enclosure or even build a custom 24-bay NAS along with buying up as many of the highest capacity HDDs available. In this case RAID and high performance is typically needed. Thus, the He8 seems to fit in as a great solution for them.  However, you may now be thinking to yourself right now, but if that is the case, why not use 10TB HDDs? The issue is that the HGST HA10 and Seagate Archive series HDDs use a new method to store more data called shingled magnetic recording (SMR). In testing the Seagate Archive HDD, StorageReview.com has found that SMR does not play well with traditional hardware RAID. Therefore, the HGST He8 is currently the best option for those looking to use them in a RAID environment. They even have a special RAID feature we will soon go over as you continue reading.


The Ultrastar He8 is HGST’s second generation of HelioSeal hard drives. The Ultrastar He series HDDs utilize helium instead of normal air in their design. This in turn reduces internal resistance provides for 23% lower power consumption and 4-5°C lower heat output when compared to a standard 6TB air drive.

The HGST Ultrastar He8 is available in a 3.5″ form factor and SAS 12Gb/s or SATA 6Gb/s interfaces. There are multiple models depending on your sector size needs. Secure erase & Self-Encrypting Drive options are also available.

SAS 12Gb/s SATA 6Gb/s
Sector size (variable, Bytes/sector) 4Kn: 4096, 4112, 4160, 4224 / 512e: 512, 520, 528 4Kn: 4096, 512e: 512

The drive operates at 7,200RPM and has a 128MB DRAM cache to provide sustained transfer rate performance up to 205MB/s and latency that averages 4.16ms.

Low power idle (W, avg) 5.7 5.1
Operating (W, typical) 9.1 7.4
Power consump. efficiency index (W/GB) 0.71W/TB / 0.00071W/GB (8TB) 0.64W/TB / 0.00064W/GB (8TB)

It has an error rating of 10^15 and an industry leading 2.5 million hours MTBF rating. It is also rated for up to 600,000 load/unload cycles and has a 5-year warranty. The Ultrastar He8 features HGST’s media cache architecture as well, which helps to deliver up to three times better random write performance compared to He6!

These HDDs also have what HGST calls Rebuild Assist mode which allows for faster RAID recovery when used with a Rebuild Assist complaint controller and nearly eliminates system performance degradation. Disk failures happen and array rebuilds usually don’t happen quickly. A 50TB RAID array may take 30hrs+ to rebuild. With higher capacity drives, time increases. Being able to rebuild quickly helps to reduce the chance of data loss or down time. Traditionally during a rebuild, all the parity data is rebuilt from the good drives in the array to the hot-spare. Rebuild Assist allows the failing drive to copy good parity data to the hot-spare drive and then all the bad data can be reconstructed. This process helps to reduce rebuild times significantly. One thing to note, however, in the case of a full disk failure a traditional rebuild must take place. This is still a great feature to have if you can take advantage of it.

Finally, by checking Amazon we can see that the Ultrastar He8 is currently is going for around $600-$800 depending on the model you need.


The overall dimensions of the drive are 101.6mm x 147mm x 26.1mm (width x depth x height). Because this drive is filled with helium rather than air, HGST laser-welds the casing closed to prevent it from escaping. This also results in lower weight. The Ultrastar He8 weighs in at 650g, just as the He6, both happen to be 65g less than the Ultrastar 7K6000.

HGST He8 Front and BackHGST He8 DisassembledOnce we disconnect the PCB from the case we can see they utilize foam in between. The controller is by LSI and the 128MB DRAM is from Samsung.

We can also see the use of two accelerometers to detect and enable Rotational Vibration Safeguard to compensate for vibration and help boost performance.  Finally, we can see that they utilize a SMOOTH motor driver.

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