Advanced Format (AF) Technology
Advanced Format is the name for a new data structure format that defines an increase in the basic sector size used on hard drives. The new technology allows the hard drive industry to deliver higher capacity drives with additional error correction capability. This is done by increasing the size of a sector from 512 to 4096 bytes, and thus reducing the amount of space used for sector separation and addressing, while increasing the space used for error detection and correction codes.
Why should you care? The benefit for consumers will arrive in the form of higher capacity drives, lower costs per gigabyte, and increased reliability. All hard drive companies are migrating away from the legacy sector size of 512 bytes to 4096 bytes, and have agreed to fully adopt the Advanced Format standard by January 2011 for new models shipping into the notebook and desktop markets. This transition will provide HDD engineers with another tool to improve areal densities and error correction.
A negative side effect of Advanced Format is potential performance degradation in some configurations. This happens when partitions are not aligned properly during installation. But to avoid this problem, Seagate has created SmartAlign technology to resolve partition misalignment issues.
Seagate SmartAlign is hard drive firmware tool that manages read-modify-write conditions resulting from partition misalignment conditions, which are associated with the use of 4K sector drives (Advanced Format). Note that SmartAlign does not realign partitions, rather it manages read-modify-write conditions dynamically inside the drive without utilizing host PC resources.
The advantage of this technology is its ability to resolve issues in real time, without having to manually run partition alignment software at any point. Without SmartAlign, read-modify-write conditions might negatively impact HDD performance.
Here are the detailed specs of the drive from Seagate. As previously mentioned, the 5900 RPM spindle speed should give it an edge over competitive low power drives on the market. The advertised seek times and latency are better than the competition's but we'll put these claims to the test.
After a quick format, the drive shows up w/ 1.81 TB of free space. The following pages consist of the performance results of the Barracuda Green drive, so let's find out how well it fared.