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 Post subject: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reached!
 Post Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:52 pm 
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The first 2TB drive has just been released: WD LAUNCHES INDUSTRY'S FIRST 2 TB HARD DRIVES

This event has been expected, as it has been almost 2 years since the introduction of the first 1TB drive, and drive capacities in general have been doubling in intervals of 2 years (or less) according to both history and Moore's Law. Personally however I expected this to happen around last September (2008), since that is when the first two-platter 500GB laptop (2.5") drive was introduced, and those drives have the same (approx. 400Gb/sq-in) areal density as 2TB desktop (3.5") drives.

I must admit I've been sort of dreading this event for a couple of years now as this is another *major* disk limit milestone, and just as with the last milestone (the 137GB limit), anything beyond this capacity will force major changes in BIOS, Operating Systems, disk related software, as well as how disks are partitioned and formatted. Of course I should really welcome these types of changes, as support headaches like this are good for those in the support business. <g>

Bottom line: With this event the MBR (Master Boot Record) disk and partition table format that has been with us since DOS 2.0 was introduced (March 8, 1983) has effectively reached its limit. 2TiB is the highest capacity drive (or array) that can be supported using standard MBR (Master Boot Record) disk formats and partition tables. Drives and RAID volumes larger than 2TiB require a completely different disk format and partitioning scheme called GPT, which stands for GUID (Globally Unique IDentifier) Partition Table. You can find more information on GPT architecture in the following article:


Perhaps the most important issue is OS support (or the lack thereof). The ability to use GPT formatted drives (and arrays) larger than 2TiB will especially separate new OS from older ones. Currently only Vista x64 SP1 and later support booting from GPT drives, while older OS like Windows XP don't support GPT at all. The non-server Windows OS breakdown for GPT support is as follows:

Code:
Operating System  GPT support
-------------------------------------------
Vista x64 SP1+    GPT Boot* and Data drives
Vista/XP x64      GPT Data drives only
Vista x32         GPT Data drives only
XP x32            No GPT support

The breakdown for Windows server OS is as follows:
Code:
Operating System  GPT support
-------------------------------------------
Server 2008       GPT Boot* and Data drives
Server 2003 x64   GPT Data drives only
Server 2003 SP1+  GPT Data drives only
Server 2003       No GPT support

*Note that booting from GPT drives requires a BIOS with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) support:


Basically this means you need a motherboard with a BIOS that has a "UEFI Boot" option in the BIOS Setup Boot menu, and it must be enabled. Most newer Intel and MSI motherboards have this feature, others will follow.

Standard 32-bit versions of Vista, or Vista x64 pre-SP1 can support GPT data drives, but cannot boot from them:


32-bit versions of Windows XP don't support GPT at all, however the 32-bit version of Windows 2003 (based on XP code) *does* support GPT data drives if SP1 or later is installed:


The ability of Server 2003 with SP1 or later to support GPT data drives is a good sign for future GPT support in XP. Since XP and Server 2003 have a shared code base it suggests that an update or fix for 32-bit XP may eventually be available as well. I don't necessarily expect Microsoft to provide this however, since they would rather see people move to Vista or Windows 7. It may take an unauthorized "hack" such as using files from Server 2003 and integrating them into XP. There is already a product on the market called GPT Mounter that allows Windows XP to mount GPT data drives, but support is limited to *2TB or less* in capacity, which is unfortunate since that is the main reason you'd want GPT support in the first place!

In the future I expect to see free or open source GPT mounting software that will allow Windows XP to mount GPT drives of any size, however I do not expect that XP will ever be able to boot from a GPT drive, for that you will need to move to Vista x64 SP1+ or Windows 7.

Here are some more articles with information on GPT and Windows:


Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reached!
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:52 pm 
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Since I started this topic, an enhancement to the Enhanced Disk Drive - 4 (EDD-4) standard has been proposed, which enables the support of >2TiB drives or volumes for non-UEFI aware legacy BIOSes and non-GPT aware legacy operating systems.

Here are the details: EDD-4 standardizes BIOS level calls for booting from Mass Storage devices, allowing for an industry standard software interface. In July 2009 the EDD-4 Hybrid MBR boot code annex was proposed, which describes GPT-aware “hybrid” MBR and VBR boot code that allows systems with legacy BIOS and OS to boot from a GPT partition.

In addition, a proposed 2TiB Boundary Reporting change to the ATA/ATAPI Command Set - 2 (ACS-2) standard provides an improved method for devices to report capacities >2TiB.

It is interesting to note that Apple created a "messed up" proprietary hybrid MBR for its Boot Camp software, which enables booting to Windows on Apple systems. Fortunately the industry as a whole won't be using the Apple variation, since it violates the existing UEFI standard.

What does all of this mean for the average user? Based on what I see from the standards, legacy BIOS and OS should only need modified partitioning and formatting programs that write hybrid MBRs and VBRs to enable support of GPT partitions, including those that exend beyond 2TiB. Those that use a standard (non-hybrid) GPT disk layout can use some sort of "mounting" program or driver. I'd expect several of these types of programs to be available open source or possibly even from the drive mfrs. when they start selling >2TiB drives.

Another recent development in disk drive technology is 4K physical sectoring, however this is unrelated to the 2TiB barrier issue, and is instead designed mainly to extract an additional 7-11% of capacity for a given areal density. Besides, drives with 4K physical sectors will still present themselves to the interface as having 512 byte logical sectors. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reached!
 Post Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:56 am 
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Thanks for breaking all this down once again. Over the last week I have been reading several documents at both The Serial ATA International Organization's and the Technical Committee T13's sites. I read the proposed 2TiB Boundary Reporting change you linked to but the PDF makes much more sense with your notes.

Evan


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:17 pm 
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Now that the 2TB limit has been reached there is no stopping. 3TB drives are on their way.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3713/hard ... tb-in-2010


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:24 am 
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Seagate is shipping 3TB hard drives in mid-July!

http://www.seagate.com/3tb/?cmpid=emc-3TbGoFlex06292010-us-en-buy


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:52 am 
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Anyone fancy losing 3TB of data? I think drives should have built in Raid 1 but appear as just one drive to the BIOS/OS, no more needing Raid controllers! :)


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:27 am 
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Anyone buying 3TB drives should buy them in triplicate. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:01 am 
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Scott wrote:
Anyone buying 3TB drives should buy them in triplicate. <g> Scott.


well if you ask me anybody storing any data that they care about should be backing it up in triplicate no matter how much data there is.


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 Post subject: UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) coming?
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:14 pm 
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I am starting to see greater than 2Tb drives and still no widespread agreement on which EFI will be used -- or does that even matter -- and the motherboards are not showing up supporting an EFI standard.

I am not sure I would want to be buying a socket AM3, 1156 or 1366 motherboard without the assurance that two years from now when 5Tb drives run $100 will be available I would have to get a new socket AM4, 2011 or 1155 motherboard...assuming it has shown up by then.

So any updates on what is likely to be adopted for a standard and when? And is it possible they have dual BIOS transition design? Or is there a better solution to OS/hardware interaction?


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:27 pm 
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Currently I have no updates to what I've posted earlier in this thread so far. This type of change takes a while to filter down throughout the industry. There still aren't any internal >2TB drives available on NewEgg for example. As soon as the drive mfrs. start selling >2TB drives in volume, we'll see more available solutions to the problem. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:25 am 
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I think this and the SSD issue (trim support only in W7+) will help to kill XP, Also I think the 4GB limit in XP (Except x64 of course) will also start to take the shine off XP.

2014 is the last date in which XP will be anywhere near me! (Security updates ending then) I expect to upgrade my systems with maybe Windows 8,9,10 by then.


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 Post subject: Re: UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) coming?
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:00 am 
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FascistNation wrote:
two years from now when 5Tb drives run $100 will be available I would have to get a new socket AM4, 2011 or 1155 motherboard.


I would think that SSDs are going to start to become more popular instead of these increasingly huge HDDs. After all the vast majority of people are not filling up 500 GBs and forget about a TB. At the same time pretty much everybody can benefit from SSDs. In short I'm not sure if we will see 5TB drives anytime soon.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:53 am 
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Quote:
I think this and the SSD issue (trim support only in W7+) will help to kill XP...

You can add Trim support to XP and Vista via 3rd party utilities normally supplied by the SSD manufacturers, such as the Solid-State Drive Optimizer provided by Intel for its drives.

Quote:
...Also I think the 4GB limit in XP (Except x64 of course) will also start to take the shine off XP.

Fortunately there are few applications that need or which can even use more than 2GB of RAM under XP. This is partly due to the fact that Windows 7/Vista incurs significantly more memory overhead than XP, leaving less RAM available to applications given the same overall amount in the system.

Quote:
2014 is the last date in which XP will be anywhere near me! (Security updates ending then)...

That is indeed what Microsoft currently says, however since Windows XP still has over double the market share of Windows 7 and Vista *combined*, I believe that Microsoft will have to re-think dropping XP suppport in only 3 years. Windows XP is still by far the most popular OS, and if it remains as popular as I expect it will in 2014, the repercussions of dropping support will be disastrous for the computing community at large. The implications are such that I believe Microsoft will be required to extend support beyond 2014, either voluntarily or by force if necessary (in that dropping security support for a popular OS will be tantamount to a crime).

Bottom line: As much as Microsoft may not like it, Windows XP is one product it will have a hard time making "go away". <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:03 am 
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Scott wrote:
I believe Microsoft will be required to extend support beyond 2014


You may be right Scott but I hope you are wrong. Windows 7 and Vista are superior in just about every way. At least in my opinion. XP is almost unusable to me these days.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:44 am 
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Quote:
You may be right Scott but I hope you are wrong. Windows 7 and Vista are superior in just about every way. At least in my opinion. XP is almost unusable to me these days.



What?!!!??!!!?


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:39 am 
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Obviously the majority doesn't yet see the "superiority" in 7/Vista, or at least they don't think it is worth the price of admission. <g> Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:39 am 
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FatGuy wrote:
Quote:
You may be right Scott but I hope you are wrong. Windows 7 and Vista are superior in just about every way. At least in my opinion. XP is almost unusable to me these days.



What?!!!??!!!?


I said Windows 7 and Vista are superior in just about every way at least in my opinion I don't very much enjoy the experience of using XP these days. It's slow to get to the data I want and and it's not very intuitive.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:42 am 
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Scott wrote:
Obviously the majority doesn't yet see the "superiority" in 7/Vista, or at least they don't think it is worth the price of admission. <g> Scott.


Scott it's hardly fair to compare the market share of an OS that's had ten years to sell as compared to an OS that's not even had 1 year. Besides I'm not interested in what the majority think I know that Windows 7 (as well as Windows Vista) is better for me. I can get all my data instantaneously as well as it just operates much smoother for me at this point.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:11 am 
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XP is actually still "selling" quite well in the form of downgrade rights, which unfortunately count as sales of 7/Vista as reported by Microsoft, but which truly end up as online users of XP. And that is really the main point I was making. I didn't say one was "better" than the other, I basically said that the existing installed base of XP is *so* large and the momentum so great that MS will have a hard time turning off the switch in 2014. So much so that I am predicting an extension of that date, else there will be a malware explosion that will be detrimental to everybody, including those running newer OS. Most systems more than two years old can't run 7/Vista very well (if at all), and as such upgrading isn't an option even if it were free. But of course it isn't free, and the differences in actual usable features for most people are so minor that I don't recommend upgrading from XP to Vista or 7 (i.e. paying for Windows twice on the same system).

For new systems that come with Windows 7, I do recommend staying with that as opposed to downgrading to XP, but again that wasn't really the point I was responding to. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:25 pm 
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Scott wrote:
and the differences in actual usable features for most people are so minor that I don't recommend upgrading from XP to Vista or 7


Don't want to argue with you and I know there are a lot of people still using XP but the differences are huge to me. To the point where I practically hate using XP anymore. In my business I am actually starting to see more PCs coming in with Vista as opposed to XP. I would rank the OSes I see as followes 1) Vista, 2) XP, 3) Windows 7 a distant third.


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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:56 pm 
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The economy sucks. It is unlikely to get better anytime soon.

That means businesses will try to stretch their machines longer, and delay upgrading/ replacing as long as possible and necessary.

Some of those are large corporations that buy MS support for XP and expect support. [and Linux is free.]

edit: Ed Bott has a different view.


Last edited by FascistNation on Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The 2TB (Terabyte) drive limit has officially been reach
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:57 pm 
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ElBurro wrote:
Scott wrote:
and the differences in actual usable features for most people are so minor that I don't recommend upgrading from XP to Vista or 7


Don't want to argue with you and I know there are a lot of people still using XP but the differences are huge to me. To the point where I practically hate using XP anymore.


They sure are,



http://tinyurl.com/7u9ptc


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