Starting in Q1 this year, all new hard drive models will contain the "big sector" footprint that Western Digital launched late last year with its "4k advanced format" 'EARS' drives.
After dropping Seagate a line to ask whether they were planning models on the new format to challenge WD, we were informed that the whole industry
is behind the transition that is taking place right now. Good to know!
To quote Seagate PR directly: "International Disk Drive Materials and Equipment Association (IDEMA) have agreed that beginning January 1, 2011 all new product releases with SATA interfaces will support Advanced Formatted media."
The 4KB sector size is an advancement from the 512Byte sector size that all hard drives (as in, mechanical media) have adhered to for the longest time. The larger sector bring efficiency advantages because as the total size of drives increase, less sectors have to be used, and less ECC data overall has to be written, physical saving space. The downside is that there are issues of compatibility with older operating systems, however the drives will contain a "512B emulation mode" (at a performance loss) for the foreseeable future.
We're currently waiting on a new 'EARS' drive from Western Digital to arrive so we can test the differences.
Have you bought a 4k advanced format drive yet? Let us know your thoughts in the forums