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Seagate: Industry Not 3TB HDD Capacity-Ready

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 67 comments

While confirming that a 3 TB HDD will be announced later this year, Seagate has explained the hurdles the company is facing to make it happen.

While confirming that the company will indeed announce a 3 TB hard drive later this year, Seagate product manager Barbara Craig admitted that moving to a capacity greater than 2.1 TB requires more work than merely upping the areal density. In fact, most PCs just aren't built to cope with hard drive capacities beyond that limit thanks to the original logical block addressing (LBA) standard set by Microsoft and IBM twenty years ago.

We've heard this before song and dance before: the limited LBA was originally designed for DOS, and only allotted 512-byte sectors for each sector, locking capacities to a 2.1 TB limit. According to Craig, at the time no one imagined that technology would allow for capacities over 2.1 TB when the LBA standard was developed in 1980.

With that said, Long LBA addressing will need to be applied to get around the capacity lock, requiring 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and modified versions of Linux. As for Windows XP, Long LBA addressing leaves the older OS out of the picture. Craig said that in-house tests have shown that only 990 MB of a 3 TB drive is available in XP, with the remaining 2.1 TB literally unseen by the OS.

But the current LBA isn't the only hurdle. Craig said that a new GUID partition table (GPT) will need to be released, as current master boot record partitions are locked to 2.1 TB. GPT and Long LBA addressing are now part of the new UEFI system, however this new BIOS replacement hasn't become standard, and is only used in a minimum number of motherboards. As it stands now, a 3 TB drive is pointless until the industry is overhauled, including motherboards, RAID controllers, drivers, and operating systems.

"On the UEFI standard, we’re going to a Plugfest next month to ensure that everybody is ready, and the IDEMA Group is also supporting them," Craig said.

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  • 38 Hide
    Anonymous , May 17, 2010 7:38 PM
    when you say 20 years ago do you mean 30? and also when you say that windows xp only recognizes 990mb do you mean GB?
  • 28 Hide
    tommysch , May 17, 2010 8:01 PM
    Good thing, this will push the remaining 32-bit OS through the window once and for all!

    If you still run a 32-bit OS, you are obsolete.
  • 24 Hide
    adamspc , May 17, 2010 7:44 PM
    Why would only the first 990GB be seen? It seems like it would be the opposite with the first 2.1TB being seen and the last 990GB not being seen. I guess I'm headed over to Wikipedia.
Other Comments
  • 38 Hide
    Anonymous , May 17, 2010 7:38 PM
    when you say 20 years ago do you mean 30? and also when you say that windows xp only recognizes 990mb do you mean GB?
  • 21 Hide
    mayne92 , May 17, 2010 7:43 PM
    Even if Seagate comes out with a 3Tera HDD I wouldn't buy from them. I had loyalty with them but seem to have a knack for crappy firmware and high failure rate HDD.
  • 24 Hide
    adamspc , May 17, 2010 7:44 PM
    Why would only the first 990GB be seen? It seems like it would be the opposite with the first 2.1TB being seen and the last 990GB not being seen. I guess I'm headed over to Wikipedia.
  • 9 Hide
    beayn , May 17, 2010 7:54 PM
    Pretty sure it's just typos. WinXP should see 2.1TB and 990GB is unseen while 1980 is 30 years ago. Unless they mean LBA was brought out in 1990, which seems more logical as CHS mapped drives were still in use back then. I can't quire remember that far back.
  • 5 Hide
    adamspc , May 17, 2010 7:59 PM
    mayne92Even if Seagate comes out with a 3Tera HDD I wouldn't buy from them. I had loyalty with them but seem to have a knack for crappy firmware and high failure rate HDD.


    Good point. Anyone else have someone cry when you tell them how much it will cost to get their data recovered?
  • 28 Hide
    tommysch , May 17, 2010 8:01 PM
    Good thing, this will push the remaining 32-bit OS through the window once and for all!

    If you still run a 32-bit OS, you are obsolete.
  • 1 Hide
    tommysch , May 17, 2010 8:02 PM
    adamspcGood point. Anyone else have someone cry when you tell them how much it will cost to get their data recovered?


    Back up...
  • 3 Hide
    accolite , May 17, 2010 8:05 PM
    There is a typo or it's really that small in XP?

    "only 990 MB of a 3 TB drive"
    ^

  • 5 Hide
    martin0642 , May 17, 2010 8:17 PM
    If you make it, they will come. You are going to make to produce it eventually, so you need the machinery to fabricate them. If they are available, competitors will have to compete and develop technology. If you build it, people with new systems will use it, and people with big data needs (Big online storage companies) then hardware to utilize it will quickly come. The longer you delay, the more you hold back the whole industry. Everyone is waiting on you.
  • 3 Hide
    t-vizz the 2nd , May 17, 2010 8:19 PM
    So a mobo flash and 64 bit OS can handle it?
  • 2 Hide
    tntomek , May 17, 2010 8:19 PM
    Is this really true? When i formatted my 1.5TB it Windows asked me if I wanted to use GUID. So who exactly isnt ready for this?
  • -3 Hide
    scott_madison1 , May 17, 2010 8:21 PM
    I guess until they can get their acts together I'll just have to rely on putting 10 hdds together in a raid configuration :) 

    Btw, considering raid can make your data safer due to being able to replace 1 drive and recreate the img. would anyone else be a bit scared of putting that much data on one drive?
  • 8 Hide
    danwat1234 , May 17, 2010 8:22 PM
    I thought the 2.1TB limit is just if you want that partition to be 'active'/bootable.. otherwise it is fine?

    Would creating a 2TB partition and then a 1TB partition (being 2 primary paritions on a 3TB drive) solve the problem?
  • 0 Hide
    drwho1 , May 17, 2010 8:26 PM
    How is this news?
    I got 2 2TB green hard drives on windows 7, that as far as I know do not
    work (or at least are not recognize properly) under windows XP, so then why a more or bigger drive could?

    Pretty much anyone running windows 7 with a PC 2 years or "younger" should be able to run/install a 3TB hard drive without a problem.

    I just want WD to announce their 5TB hard drives, but we might have to wait a little longer for this.

    note: my 2 2TB drives only have 1.81TB available, so my question is,
    how much a 3TB would really have available for use?
    I'm guessing around 2.6TB of actual space.
  • 1 Hide
    loneninja , May 17, 2010 8:28 PM
    mayne92Even if Seagate comes out with a 3Tera HDD I wouldn't buy from them. I had loyalty with them but seem to have a knack for crappy firmware and high failure rate HDD.


    Personally I've used Seagate drives since 06 and have yet to have a single failure. Hitachi is actually the only brand drive to ever fail on me, I've got a few working Western Digital and Samsung drives too.
  • 9 Hide
    jprahman , May 17, 2010 8:29 PM
    XP is probably only recognizing the 990MB because of some type of integer overflow issue. Binary numbers have a limited range of values and if you exceed the range it starts counting over again from zero. XP can probably only keep track up to the 2.1TB limit currently in place, once you go over that it starts over counting up from zero until it reaches that 990MB figure.
  • 1 Hide
    johnnyupgrade , May 17, 2010 8:31 PM
    tntomekIs this really true? When i formatted my 1.5TB it Windows asked me if I wanted to use GUID. So who exactly isnt ready for this?


    Only problem is you can't boot to GUID Partition Table without EFI, which isn't supported by a lot of hardware.

    But a drive that size is probably being used for storage anyways.
  • 7 Hide
    TunaSoda , May 17, 2010 8:52 PM
    "We've heard this before song and dance before"
    :D 
  • 0 Hide
    tolham , May 17, 2010 9:15 PM
    it's probably not the best idea to store 3TB of data on one drive. and other than mega-storage centers, i don't see why consumers would need 3TB of space in a single drive. i mean i guess if that's what you really want, then go for it, but i just don't the point.
  • 0 Hide
    haze4peace , May 17, 2010 9:26 PM
    danwat1234 is correct.
    One active partition can be 2TB. You can have up to four active partitions, so in theory you could take an 8TB hard drive and partition it into four 2TB sections and everything will work fine on current hardware.
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