Seagate whipping up 3TB Constellation ES hard drive

By on May 17, 2010, 5:08 PM
Seagate product manager Barbara Craig today confirmed rumors that the storage company is readying a 3TB hard drive for release later this year. Dubbed Constellation ES, the drive and presumably others like it may stimulate an industry-wide overhaul that could see the end of DOS-era BIOS.

Craig notes that most existing systems cannot handle capacities greater than 2.1TB because of the original logical block addressing (LBA) standard developed by IBM and Microsoft 20 years ago. "Nobody expected back in 1980 when they set the standard that we'd ever address over 2.1TB."

To get around this limitation, Craig says that Long LBA is necessary to increase the number of bytes used to define an LBA address in the command descriptor block. Fortunately, 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Vista are compatible with Long LBA, though, users of older versions are out of luck.

Although 32-bit builds of XP will see 3TB drives, in-house tests show that as little as 990MB is available while the remaining bytes are inaccessible. Craig also says that current master boot record partitions are limited to 2.1TB, so a GPT partition table would be necessary to use a 3TB HDD as a boot drive.

GPT and a larger LBA addressing scheme are part of Intel's Extensible Firmware Interface, a BIOS replacement that has yet to become standard and is only present in a handful of motherboards. Along with UEFI-compliant motherboards and 64-bit operating systems, new RAID controllers and drivers will also be required.

User Comments: 3

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tengeta tengeta said:

Just ship it with two partitions, or have some that have two. Or is this not fixable the same way RAIDS over 2.1gb are?

BlindObject said:

It will have to happen some time or another.

Guest said:

The reports on 3TB drives I've seen all contain the claim that there is problem with the LBA but never go deeper. Why not?

This is NOT the first time the industry has had to deal with hard drive capacity limits. The most recent one I know of was the 128GiB (~137GB) limit which I believe was played out around 2000 to 2002. That "barrier" was supposedly eliminated when the industry switched from using a 28-bit LBA to a 48-bit LBA.

The point being that ALL current hardware and BIOS code should certainly support 48-bit LBAs. And a 48-bit LBA is big enough to support a drive over 144,000 TB, isn't it? (Assuming logical 512 bytes sectors).

So why is Seagate (?) claiming that there is a problem with the hardware size of the LBA? Someday, yes, maybe. But if everyone is using 48-bit LBAs then we're fine, aren't we? And if we're not fine ... we'll that would be a story I would hope the tech journalists would dig further into because it's not making any sense at all to me.

What the heck is up with this??

-irrational john

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