2.5 and 3.0 TB is here! Western Digital has pushed internal 3.5″ drive capacity to 3 TB, breaking past the 2 TB barrier. Pushing platter density to 750 GB is quite an achievement, but taking a single HDD past 2^32 available sectors introduces some serious compatibility issues at both the OS and driver level.
Today Western Digital expands their Caviar Green line of hard drives with two new models – 2.5 TB and 3.0 TB. These are 4-platter drives, sporting 750GB/platter (note that the current 3TB offering from Seagate is a 5-platter unit).

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3TB, in the flesh!

While both Western Digital and Seagate both pushed out their external 3TB solutions a few weeks ago, doing so required them to make changes to their USB bridges (i.e. shifting the sector size to 4kb vs. 512b). Since all other internal drives are expected to use 512b sectors, and so much software is based on that sector size, WD has opted to hold to that standard for the internal Green. The catch here is that while we all thought Windows Vista and 7 could easily support >2TB hard drives (and they can), driver support is just not where it needs to be. The Intel RST driver, for example, can not currently address greater than 2^32 sectors. It basically ‘rolls over’, leaving you with a drive much smaller than you bargained for:

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Our 3TB drive loses 2^32 sectors when read under an Intel ICH10R controller.

These stumbling blocks are not limited to Windows. Western Digital released a chart demonstrating the complications involved with breaking the 2TB barrier:

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The pitfalls of >2TB, explained…

For the time being, Western Digital is offering an optional Host Bus Adapter (HBA) that is capable of reading past the 2^32 sector barrier.

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HighPoint Rocket 620, Western Digital’s (temporary) solution to the current dilemma.

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