Seagate ships 3TB desktop drive, breaking 2.1TB barrier

DiskWizard utility modification lets Seagate now support drives with capacities above previous 2.1TB limit

Seagate Tuesday released its highly anticipated 3TB desktop hard disk drive, the Barracuda XT, thus eliminating the need to purchase extra hardware or software to overcome the previous 2.1TB drive barrier.

Seagate last spring had said it would ship its first 3TB HDD, the Constellation ES, for data center servers during 2010. However, that drive has yet to ship.

Seagate said it was able to add capacity to the desktop drive through its free DiskWizard utility. Seagate added a virtual device driver to the utility to allow legacy BIOSes and OSes, such as Windows XP, to access capacity above 2.1TB on a drive. Without the driver, PCs with older OSes and BIOS designs would only be able to create volumes up to 2.1TB.

Hence, the Barracuda XT hard drive now delivers the highest available capacity on a single drive for home servers and workstations, high-definition video editing and production systems, high-performance PC gaming systems and desktop PCs.

The new DiscWizard software is available for free download on Seagate's website .

The 2.1TB ceiling for internal HDDs was set about 30 years ago when a decision was made to limit the logical block address (LBA) range on a hard drive. The LBA specifies where blocks of data are stored on a hard drive.

Legacy PC BIOS designs and device drivers and older operating systems such as Windows XP are incapable of using hard drive capacities beyond 2.1TB. The upshot is that computers with older platforms can create partitions with up to 2.1TB of storage capacity, but must be deployed with additional software or hardware and may also require extra device drivers to overcome this limitation.

Currently, in order for PCs to recognize drives with more than 2.1TB capacity, they must use the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard that Intel and IBM introduced in 2007. The UEFI standard, however, has not been widely adopted.

"We believe UEFI will remain in a nascent category for a bit longer before there is broad adoption," said David Burks, marketing director for Seagate. "We felt strongly that we needed to create a product that didn't require UEFI for customers who wanted to use the full capacity of these big drives."

Burks admits that UEFI will eventually be the solution across the industry for allowing older OSes and system BIOS to utilize high-capacity drives, and that the new firmware upgrade on DiskWizard is merely a "stop gap" measure for now.

Users can install the Barracuda XT in their PCs the same as any other drive, using Windows to format and partition the drive.

If the systems platform is Windows XP, it will only access 900GB of capacity on the drive - the portion above 2.1TB. Windows Vista and Windows 7 will recognize 2.1TB capacity on the drive. Users will then be required to download and install the DiskWizard firmware.

Once installed, the user interface will show two partitions, one with 2.1TB and the other with 900GB capacity, and allow a user to adjust those partition sizes to their individual needs. Users will not be able to create a single 3TB partition.

The new Barracuda XT differs little from its 2TB predecessor . The only real difference is that the drive has five disk platters versus four. Like its predecessor, the Barracuda XT has a 7200rpm spindle speed and uses the serial ATA (SATA) 3.0 interface specification giving it 6Gbit/sec throughput.

The drive's 64MB cache also adds to its performance.

The drive's suggested retail price is $274.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags storagestorage hardwarehardware systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucas Mearian

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?