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.