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

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 8 comments
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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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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 20 October 2010 00:39
    surely 3tb should work on any controller? You will not be able to boot off it but it is the fact BIOS cannot boot GUID, but it can be still used for non-boot purposes.
  • 0 Hide
    proletarian , 20 October 2010 01:34
    you can partition it.
    just make two 1.5tb partitions and you're elected, fred.
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , 20 October 2010 19:15
    I fail to see the problem. You'd have to be fairly stupid to use a 3TB drive wihout partitioning it - frequently used apps should have their own partition and sensitive date should be spread over multiple partitions in case on goes corrupted.
  • Display all 8 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    normano , 20 October 2010 20:46
    but then you would still lose data should the drive fail - sensitive data should be backed up to a conpletely different drive or device if you really do care about it

    the issue here is that without EFI, the BIOS that we use now cannot 'support' drives with a size more than 2.19TB - and then it matters not whether its a boot drive or not, nor will it matter if its partitioned - it will just NOT see it.

    So the controller card is needed until EFI controlled mobo's hit the shelves, and then beyond that for those that do not wish to upgrade yet again

  • 0 Hide
    normano , 20 October 2010 20:49
    proletarianyou can partition it.just make two 1.5tb partitions and you're elected, fred.

    partition information is not seen until the HDD is seen

    remember, a HDD is a physical device, and a partition is a logical device stored on a physical device and you cannot have the logical if there is no physical
  • 0 Hide
    proletarian , 21 October 2010 04:44
    i can't imagine the bios allowing GUID to look at in excess of a trillion bytes - individually - before running with the disk, if a primary partition were created and then a second, logical partition, would it not just read the first partition up to 2.19tb?
  • 0 Hide
    normano , 21 October 2010 23:04
    no - it wouldn't

    easiest way to see this is to stop thinking about partitions altogether

    if the drive is a 3TB drive, and you partitioned it with 2 partitions of equal size it would not see any of them - because the computer would not be able to see the device due to the limitations of the BIOS

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 25 October 2010 17:34
    Partitions have nothing to do with the issue. The BIOS, which is lower than partitions in the logical chain, cannot "see" over 2.19TB in a physical drive, not logical partitions.