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Windows Thread, Warning for Windows XP users buying new machines - Hard Drives now 'Advanced Format'. in Technical; So, further to my earlier post querying these new '4k' and '512e' drives, it appears that at least one manufacturer ...
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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Warning for Windows XP users buying new machines - Hard Drives now 'Advanced Format'.

    So, further to my earlier post querying these new '4k' and '512e' drives, it appears that at least one manufacturer is now no longer shipping the old style hard drives - Dell. According to my supplier, hard drive manufacturers have EOLd pretty much all 512byte drives.

    This will cause issues that need to be overcome for XP users, and also cause issues with imaging.

    So, if you haven't done so already, read up on them, as they are here to stay, and as was suggested to me - look at moving to a newer OS.

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    speckytecky (14th October 2011)

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    markcuk's Avatar
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    Pretty sure you just have to put a jumper on them. I sold advanced format hard drives in my last job and we just supplied the jumper with them.

    Other than that you have to use the Align software utility (Western Digital)
    Last edited by markcuk; 14th October 2011 at 06:02 PM.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    This will cause issues that need to be overcome for XP users, and also cause issues with imaging.
    Do you mean just imaging Windows XP, or does that include imaging Windows 7 also?

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markcuk View Post
    Pretty sure you just have to put a jumper on them. I sold advanced format hard drives in my last job and we just supplied the jumper with them.

    Other than that you have to use the Align software utility (Western Digital)
    As far as I know, 2.5" laptop drives don't come with jumpers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Do you mean just imaging Windows XP, or does that include imaging Windows 7 also?
    Depends on the tool. I don't think FOG works with them at all at the moment, according to a bug report in the tracker there. Others have different needs, such as ghost wanting an image=1mb line including in the imaging command.

    From what I can tell, 512e drives (ie. drives that will emulate 512byte drives) should work with XP and imaging tools. The 4k drives which will eventually hit the market currently aren't supported by any Windows OS or imaging tool according to various sources.

    My suggestion, and it is going to be what I will be doing, is to get hold of a single machine of the type you want and try it out before taking the plunge and buying a load.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that's 100% correct. I had a quick search online and found this:

    Microsoft KB982018

    If you're running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, you'll have full compatibility with 4K formatted drives (and the latest enhancements).

    According to this document from Seagate, Microsoft introduced large sector compatibility (4K) with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 SP1.

    If you're running Windows XP, it will not support the 4K format, but should support 512byte emulation. There may be some performance penalty, but you could argue all schools at some point should be moving to Windows 7 SP1 for the best performance.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I'm not sure that's 100% correct. I had a quick search online and found this:

    Microsoft KB982018

    If you're running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, you'll have full compatibility with 4K formatted drives (and the latest enhancements).

    According to this document from Seagate, Microsoft introduced large sector compatibility (4K) with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 SP1.

    If you're running Windows XP, it will not support the 4K format, but should support 512byte emulation. There may be some performance penalty, but you could argue all schools at some point should be moving to Windows 7 SP1 for the best performance.
    No, that says just what I said - 512e drives are supported. Native 4k drives aren't. ie. the system still reads the full 4k into cache, selects the 512bytes needed and sends that to the OS. Then when writing back, the 512 gets padded with extra data to fit it back in a 4k sector.

    So, drives that have 4k sectors, but present a 512byte emulation for systems are supported fine, but the next gen 4k native drives, without 512 emulation are not yet supported by any Windows OS.

    So, Vista SP1+ have some better support for 4k, but it's limited in scope still.

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    The simplest option for supporting XP on 4k sector drives may be to virtualise it into a linux host and boot directly to that, it would be reasonably quick on a modern OS.

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    Does anyone actually sell native 4K drives yet?

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    Manufacturers can't sell 4K native drives until more people ditch XP.

    Since 4K-sector drives won’t work on Win 5.x at all, drive manufacturers can't put them on the market so long as there’s a significant legacy base. 2014 – the year that extended support ends for WinXP – looks like a good year to finally complete the move to 4K sectors. (Source)
    The only HDDs which still use non-emulated 512 byte sectors are Hitachi's 3.5" 5K3000 and 7K3000 drives. Everything else is 4k/512e.

    Probably the best workaround I have seen so far is found in Seagate's Momentus and Momentus Thin HDDs. These drives feature a technology called SmartAlign which automatically aligns data on-the-fly before it is written to disk. Because this is a firmware-based solution you don't have to do anything different to what you are already doing (even with XP). To see how it works, check out Seagate's patent: www.google.com/patents/about?id=GxbLAAAAEBAJ.

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    So, drives that have 4k sectors, but present a 512byte emulation for systems are supported fine, but the next gen 4k native drives, without 512 emulation are not yet supported by any Windows OS.
    Thanks for clearing that up It does seem odd that not even Windows 7 supports these native 4K drives. If that's the case then XP really is irrelevant, as manufacturers will be forced to use 4K/512byte emulation drives for the next 10 years at least. XP is supported until 2014 and Windows 7 2020.

    I would of thought Windows 8 would support 4K drives natively and Windows Vista/7 will probably receive it in Windows Vista SP3 and Windows 7 SP2 sometime in the future.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    What is also weird about this is that the hard drive industry has been talking about making these advanced format drives for over a decade... So it isn't as if Microsoft has been hit with this suddenly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I would of thought Windows 8 would support 4K drives natively and Windows Vista/7 will probably receive it in Windows Vista SP3 and Windows 7 SP2 sometime in the future.
    There's not going to be another service pack for Vista. Its mainstream support phase ends in 179 days time.
    Last edited by Arthur; 15th October 2011 at 03:39 PM.

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    Do the latest versions of Mac OS Lion and Linux support 4K drives natively, or is it just Microsoft who have forgotten about it?

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    I am a little surprised if there will be no Vista SP3. Microsoft released SP3 for XP in its final days of mainstream support and they're soon releasing Office 2007 SP3 which is kind of Vista's generation, just as Office 2003 SP3 was Windows XP SP3's generation.

    I admit Vista isn't one of Microsoft's highlights - it wasn't used as much as they'd hoped, but still, there are people who have paid their hard earned cash for it. Vista's mainstream support is ending in April 2012, so there's still some time yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Do the latest versions of Mac OS Lion and Linux support 4K drives natively, or is it just Microsoft who have forgotten about it?
    From Western Digital's website...

    Mac OS X:
    Mac OS X version 10.4 onwards (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion) can use the GUID Partitioning Table scheme (GPT) which will align an Advanced Format drive correctly. Mac OS versions using Apple Partition Manager (APM) will not align partitions correctly and will not provide optimum performance.

    Linux
    Linux as an operating system is a combination of a kernel, user space utilities and customized packaging provided within the "distributions" such as Ubuntu, SuSE and Redhat.

    The Linux kernel has had specific support for the alternate sector sizes and offsets used by WD Advanced Format disk drives since version 2.6.31. However, distributions based on Linux 2.6.34, the latest stable version of Linux, will provide the most thorough support. Advanced Format parameters are available in the sysfs file system from this kernel version onwards. Kernel versions older than 2.6.31 will not specifically detect Advanced Format Drives, but with proper alignment the system performance will be maintained. (Source)

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