Storage specialist Seagate has confirmed that it has a range of 3TB hard drives planned for the near future, but warns that the upgrade path might not be as smooth as its customers could hope.
Speaking to Thinq
, Seagate's Barbara Craig confirmed that the company will be "announcing a 3TB drive later this year,
" although a firm commitment to specs and pricing wasn't forthcoming beyond the suggestion that enterprise-grade drives could be ready by the end of the year.
More pressing, however, is the technical considerations that come with an update to such impressive capacity in a single drive: according to Craig, "nobody expected back in 1980 when they set the standard that we'd ever address over 2.1TB [in a single drive].
This short-sightedness - excusable when you consider that the standard that Craig is talking about, Logical Block Addressing, was developed when hard drives were just about in double-digits of megabytes
- has lead to the issue that Seagate - and other manufacturers - will be facing as they bring 3TB and higher capacity drives to market.
Because the current LBA standard only addresses up to 2.1TB in a single drive, 3TB drives will require Long LBA - an extension to the standard which is currently only supported in the 64-bit editions of Windows 7 and Vista. XP users are likely to be left out in the cold, with no plans to introduce Long Logical Block Addressing to the still-popular operating system.
Operating system support is only half the battle, and Craig warns that the use of 3TB is likely to require a complete overhaul of the system - a new BIOS, a new SATA or RAID controller, and potentially even an entirely new motherboard.
Thankfully, with Seagate planning its first 3TB drives to be in its enterprise range, these are problems that the corporations with big budgets can work out - before the tech drips down to the consumer level and we all get to enjoy capacious hard drives.
For the curious, a more thorough investigation of the technical roadblocks ahead for early adopters of 3TB drives is available on the second page of Thinq's article
Are you impressed that Seagate is managing to cram 3TB into a single drive, or does the whole thing sound like a lot of hassle - and a heck of a lot of data to lose in the event of drive failure? Should large storage requirements be met with RAID and similar technologies, or is there a market for such large drives at the consumer level? Share your thoughts over in the forums