WD Caviar Green 3TB Hard Drive Review - HotHardware

WD Caviar Green 3TB Hard Drive Review

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Unfortunately, if you're still using Windows XP, don't expect your system to make full use of any 3TB drive (yet). The problem is that older operating system, in combination with a legacy BIOS and master boot record (MBR) partition table scheme face a barrier at 2.19TB. Why? It's because they can only address up to 2^32 logical blocks, multiplied by sector size capacity. Since the most commonly used sector size is 512 bytes, mathematics tells us there is a capacity limit of 2,199,023,255,522 bytes or 2.19TB.

Advances in technology make the use of large capacity drives possible. One way would be to use a larger sector size, while keeping the number of addressable blocks the same. For example, using 4096 (4k) byte sectors would allow for systems to address a maximum of 2^32 x 4096 bytes, or 17.59TB. Unfortunately, there are too many application incompatibility issues when you go over 512 bytes.

Western Digital has made the transition to physical sector sizes of 4096 bytes and calls it Advanced Format (AF) technology. To address the problem associated by making this move, the hard drive reports and emulates a disk using 512 bytes.

Another solution is to utilize GUID partition tables (GPT) instead of master boot record (MBR) tables. While MBR restricts a disk's partition size to 2.19TB, GPT allows for a maximum size of 9.4 zettabytes. GPT forms part of the extensible firmware interface (EFI) standard and is Intel's proposed replacement for the BIOS.

Hopefully you like acronyms because we're going to throw some more your way. The EFI specification is governed by the Unified EFI forum. UEFI defines a new way for operating systems to work with system platform firmware. It's a community effort by a group of companies within the industry to bring the legacy booting process up to date. It's unlikely the motherboard in your system today supports UEFI, but according to Western Digital, most systems shipping now through Q2 2011 will be UEFI capable. 

Existing motherboards utilizing BIOS (non-UEFI), GPT ready operating systems like Windows 7 64-bit, and appropriate storage class drivers can use hard drives larger than 2.19TB as storage. A problem is a number of host bus adapter (HBA) and chipset vendors don't offer driver support for these types of drives.

To provide a solution for this compatibility issue, Western Digital bundles an HBA with the Caviar Green 3TB drive that allows the operating system to use a known driver to correctly support extra large capacity drives. Granted, this bundle is a short term solution until updated storage drivers and system software support become available industry wide. 

Early adopters should not disregard the bundled HBA. If you decide to add the Caviar Green 3TB as a secondary drive to your existing system that incorporates, for example, an Intel chipset on a non-UEFI mobo, the third party storage driver may not properly support it. If the drive is directly attached to the board's SATA port, the storage driver will probably not recognize its full capacity. In addition, any attempt to uninstall the driver could render the system inoperable. Bottom line is to make sure you use the bundled HBA for now. 

As with every hard drive, you can use the Caviar Green 3TB as a primary boot drive, or a secondary storage option. Just know that booting a current Windows operating system from any drive larger than 2.19TB requires a UEFI capable motherboard and a 64-bit version of the OS. We've only been able to verify a handful of consumer boards that support UEFI (several Intel models and one from MSI), so think of this drive as a secondary storage solution as of right now. 

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Pretty impressive. Though it would work best with a SSD drive in a desktopto get the best of performance and space. 

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Good review. It's a giant drive, but a 1TB WD Black seems to be a lot faster as a data drive. Adding two of them (1TB WD Blacks) gives lots of space and in RAID, should be speedier too.

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Though I know it all has to do with maximizing profits, I wish WD would come out with their Black before their Green. I have zero interest in slower Green drives and do not particularly enjoy waiting. My 2Tb and 1.5TB drives are both nearing capacity. Hopefully I won't run out of space before they've finally wrung enough profits out of this Green drive to offer their Black drive to us unworthy peasants.

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"Bad news the fogs getting thicker...... And Leons getting largerGeeked"

Hopefully it will be in the one fiddy range early next year. Maybe by that time I will have used up the 3Tb's I have now Cool

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Dave,

Possibly I look at this a little differently than you, but my evaluation of this HDD is in terms of number of streams, noise, heat and Cost/BD. A 500 BD server would need five of these dudes in Raid 5. I am willing to pay $2/BD to store'em and serve'em and let me flush all of my boxes. That's my goal. It means that this 3TB drive needs to come in a little under $150. Come on Seagate. Let's have some stiff competition.

Orville

 

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SadMan I feel like my 1TB drive should still be new.

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bob_on_the_cob:
I feel like my 1TB drive should still be new.

It Is,.............

 

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bob_on_the_cob:
SadMan I feel like my 1TB drive should still be new.

I'm on the same boat as you, my hard drive is starting to feel like a dinosaur right about now.

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Great reporting - I wonder if the same benchmark outcome holds true when the drive is in a RAID-5 configuration. To me, this drive is meant to be in a RAID5 Array; it will save energy and will render better performance than when used in a standalone configuration... what do you think?

I also would like to know (I may have missed it) where it is sold for $239?

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Abeiis:
To me, this drive is meant to be in a RAID5 Array;

WD doesn't like for us to put some of it's drives into RAID arrays. Many of the newer low cost drives that they sell 'all of a sudden' don't work in RAID.

If you do want a WD drive to use in a RAID array, you can spend quite a lot more for it.

Examples: 1.5TB WD Non RAID Enabled Drive costs $119.00 at NewEgg

But one that does RAID is: 1.5TB WD RAID Enabled Drive costs $239.00 at NewEgg

Same capacity, and same 64MB cache on the drive, but you pay a RAID tax to WD,......and this just started about 8 months ago. I found out the hard way with the purchase of four 2TB WD drives for a NAS box. Had to trade them back to NewEgg for Seagate drives that worked fine for my purposes.

So, Seagate is now my drive of choice for RAID setups.

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