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WD's 3TB Internal HDD Comes with PCI-e Card

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 55 comments

Although Windows 7 and Vista can support capacities over 2.19 TB, a special PCI Express card will be bundled with the new 3 TB and 2.5 TB hard drives to overcome the hardware hurdle.

Tuesday Western Digital said that its 3 TB WD Caviar Green internal SATA HDD--slated as the world's largest thus far--is now available at select U.S. retailers and distributors. The drive will carry a $239 price tag and will be joined by an additional 2.5 TB model costing $189. Both will utilize 750 GB-per platter areal density and Advanced Format (AF) technology.

"WD Caviar Green drives are an eco-friendly storage solution with WD GreenPower Technology, which reduces power consumption by enabling lower operating temperatures for increased reliability and decreases acoustical noise for quiet operation," the company said Tuesday. "The WD Caviar Green 2.5 TB and 3 TB hard drives are designed for use as secondary external storage and next-generation PC storage in 64-bit-based systems."

The drawback to both capacities is that--on a hardware level--BIOS-based motherboards are limited, offering capacity support up to 2.19 TB. On the software front, 32-bit Windows operating systems prior to Vista share the same limitation, capable of handling 2.19 TB partitions or less thanks to their native support for the legacy Master Boot Record (MBR).

However MBR is expected to be replaced by the GUID Partition Table--which is already supported by Windows 7 and Vista--by the end of the year, and the BIOS will be replaced by the new Extensive Firmware Interface (EFI)--both of which will handle capacities over 2.19 TB. But that doesn't help current consumers wanting to take advantage of the expanded storage space.

To help overcome the current hardware and software limitations, WD is bundling the two drives with a PCI Express-based Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI)-compliant Host Bus Adapter (HBA) card which will enable the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives.

Unfortunately, even if installed on a machine with a EFI-embedded motherboard, Windows XP machines can't use either drive because the OS offers native support for MBR only.

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  • 21 Hide
    lejay , October 19, 2010 3:52 PM
    huronI continue to be amazed at how they can continue to increase platter density. I still wonder when they will reach a limit.Also...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)


    Well, it's not going to be 3TB of really, really important text documents, is it? 99% porn and you know it.
  • 13 Hide
    huron , October 19, 2010 3:34 PM
    I continue to be amazed at how they can continue to increase platter density. I still wonder when they will reach a limit.

    Also...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.

    I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    huron , October 19, 2010 3:34 PM
    I continue to be amazed at how they can continue to increase platter density. I still wonder when they will reach a limit.

    Also...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.

    I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)
  • 2 Hide
    scimanal , October 19, 2010 3:34 PM
    I am more curios about Raid support more than anything else, I wouldn't make this my bootable OS drive, but would this go into my Drobo? I am worried it won't...
  • 1 Hide
    K2N hater , October 19, 2010 3:51 PM
    Ever heard of Ontrack? That was a piece of software installed on boot sector which allowed boot on old BIOS that wouldn't allow > 2GB disks. I bet that could have been used instead. A driver-level patch would also do the trick but asking Microsoft to do their work is like asking for a new feature which is not compatible with any current Windows version but is sure to be shipped with the following one...
  • 6 Hide
    christiangordon , October 19, 2010 3:51 PM
    I agree huron... i would be worried about data on such a large HDD. I would prefer to have a few smaller 1TB or 2TB disks mirrored.
  • 1 Hide
    aevm , October 19, 2010 3:51 PM
    I've got a few questions...

    If I build a new PC in 2011, and I want a lot of disk space, I must look for a motherboard with EFI, get Windows 7 64-bit, and then I can use these 3 TB disks without needing HBA cards?

    What if I want to add 6 of these new disks to my current machine? Would I need 6 HBA cards? I don't have PCI-E slots for all of them. Does one HBA card support multiple drives?

    There's a more detailed review here
    http://www.storagereview.com/western_digital_caviar_green_3tb_review_wd30ezrsdtl
  • 2 Hide
    SchizoFrog , October 19, 2010 3:52 PM
    huronAlso...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)

    Personally I don't think it is so much about the amouont of data being stored as it is the size of data being stored with many people using these drives to rip full size DVDs, BluRays, etc... along with Video and Image editing advancing and also taking up huge amounts of digital space. I doubt anyone is storing 10m+ text documents.
  • 21 Hide
    lejay , October 19, 2010 3:52 PM
    huronI continue to be amazed at how they can continue to increase platter density. I still wonder when they will reach a limit.Also...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)


    Well, it's not going to be 3TB of really, really important text documents, is it? 99% porn and you know it.
  • 0 Hide
    SchizoFrog , October 19, 2010 3:55 PM
    christiangordonI agree huron... i would be worried about data on such a large HDD. I would prefer to have a few smaller 1TB or 2TB disks mirrored.

    I don't understand your concern. If you are going to RAID Mirror then why does it matter about the size of the disk? I could understand a concern if you were using a RAID Stripe.
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , October 19, 2010 4:02 PM
    Does anyone know of a UEFI motherboard available right now? I've seen a couple laptops that use it, but not desktop systems.
  • 2 Hide
    michaelssw , October 19, 2010 4:03 PM
    $239 not bad, compared to when they released the 2TB at $299 initially
  • 1 Hide
    ajcroteau , October 19, 2010 4:04 PM
    Feels like were going back to the old 16-Bit ISA IDE Controller cards...
  • 0 Hide
    jellico , October 19, 2010 4:06 PM
    huronI continue to be amazed at how they can continue to increase platter density. I still wonder when they will reach a limit.Also...is anyone else worried about so much information on one disk? Yes, I'm a fan of RAID and backup, but 3TB seems like so much data.I can still remember...(I'm sure we'll get plenty of comments - floppy disks, punch cards, MB of storage, etc)

    I know what you mean. And they're close to maxed out yet. I read an article last year that was talking about using laser diodes in the hard drives to heat the surface of the platter at write time in order to further increase the data density. They indicated that storage capacities could be increased by as much as 10 times!
  • 0 Hide
    Travis Beane , October 19, 2010 4:14 PM
    Don't know about all of you, but I'm going to completely skip the 2.5/3TB drives and just wait for the 4TB.
    I do understand the concern of having so much data on a single disk though. Losing all of the data stored on a 250GB drive sucked, I imagine 4,000GB would be hell.

    I hope they're not only working on performance and density, but also reliability (which is, arguably, the most important feature). I can only fit so many drives into a single system (easily), I don't want to use a RAID 60...
  • 1 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , October 19, 2010 4:27 PM
    3tb is not enough for my family VHS video collection.
  • 0 Hide
    someoneelse , October 19, 2010 4:48 PM
    This drive is perfect for recording tele in a media center pc.
    If you are using a 3tb for recording tele then small errors or even loosing the all the data is not the worst thing ever. With an HD media center pc the more space the better. Shame I can't get this in XP (32 bit) though.
  • 4 Hide
    Cryio , October 19, 2010 4:51 PM
    Another hit at Microsoft's Windows XP. Ha!
  • 0 Hide
    mayne92 , October 19, 2010 4:55 PM
    So what PCI-e slot will this take up I'm wondering...So much things going to pci-e but many consumer boards don't have all these slots or slots available...time for some sacrificing.
  • 2 Hide
    tu_illegalamigo , October 19, 2010 5:16 PM
    So All this next gen stuff coming in 2011 better damn well support EFI.
  • 0 Hide
    ohseus , October 19, 2010 5:29 PM
    @mayne92 PCI-e not a PCI-e x16 video slot. I think most boards have at least one these days.
  • 1 Hide
    kikireeki , October 19, 2010 5:29 PM
    This 3TB solution sounds problematic enough to be avoided -for the time being at least-.
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