Feeds

Western Digital gears up for mighty formatting

Ten per cent space boost soon come

High performance access to file storage

WD and other disk drive manufacturers are increasing disk sector size eightfold to prepare for 2TB-plus capacity drives.

Current hard disk drives have a 512 byte data sector sector size and have had for up to 30 years. Each sector has a sync/DAM header and an ECC (error checking and control) trailer followed by an inter-sector gap. A 2TB drive will have, approximately, 3,906,250,000 sectors (3.9bn).

By enlarging the data sector to 4096 bytes, meaning 953,674 sectors in a 2TB drive, the drive will need eight times fewer sync/DAM headers, ECC blocks and inter-sector gaps. The ECC block will need to be around 50 per cent larger to cope with the extra data load.

Overall, Western Digital says, there will be a seven to 11 per cent increase in hard drive capacity. Even so, the sector count will get back up to 3.8bn when 8TB drives arrive, and go past that as capacities increase further, which will mean, apparently, another sector format scheme refresh.

WD is starting to ship 500GB Caviar Green drives with the new sector scheme. It says in a white paper (pdf) that its Advanced Formatting scheme has been optimised for Windows Vista and 7, and Mac OS X versions from Tiger onwards.

Other and maybe older operating systems can use the new Advanced Format drives but may well need to have changes applied to do so. A WD Align software facility can be downloaded to change the operating system so that partitions are aligned on 4096 byte sector boundaries.

There are several measures to note. For operating systems that can't apply the changes WD says each physical 4096 byte sector is presented as 8 logical 512 byte sectors by the hard disk drive interface. Specifically for Windows XP, an installation of an Advanced Format drive can involve running a jumper between pins 7 and 8 on the hard drive before installing the drive.

WD Align would be run if you needed to install more than one partition or under other circumstances. The utility will have to be run with either Vista or Windows 7 if you wish to have more than a single partition on the new drive.

A hard drive's firmware cannot be updated to apply the new sector scheme, as such sectorisation operates below the level of the firmware. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.