From our experience, the majority of larger capacity drives have been generally slow and this has been one of the biggest reasons why people are still sticking to 2TB rather than moving onto 2.5 and 3TB. The other reason has been the limitation of many operating systems to utilize the full 3TB on the drives. Many 32-bit operating systems and older operating systems (Windows XP) have issues recognizing anything beyond 2.2TB on any drive over 2.2TB.
Hard drive manufacturers have fumbled with this issue in the past and come up with hardware solutions to resolve the issue, while others have gone on a software route to resolve the problem. With Seagate, they decided to go with the less obtrusive software solution rather than the hardware one adopted by their competitor Western Digital
Today we will be evaluating the overall speed of the Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB as well as how easy it is to make sure that we are getting the full 3TB out of the drive. Furthermore, since it is a 3TB drive we will be primarily using this drive in a data backup sort of usage scenario so things like boot time, etc will be insignificant.Background info and Specifications
The Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB takes a lot of the enterprise features from Seagate’s Constellation Enterprise drives and puts them into a more affordable consumer packaging. They also come with a 5 year warranty which indicates that Seagate is confident that the product will last at least that long. The real big deal with the Barracuda XT 3TB is that it not only increases the capacity of the top end XT line of drives by 50% but it also significantly improves performance over the old generation XT 2TB as well as its large drive competitors.
One of the things that kept Seagate from releasing a 3TB drive faster than what could have been possible was because of the 2.2TB limitation of many of the existing motherboards and operating systems. This limitation is more commonly known as the MBR wall or the 2.2TB wall
[technically 2.19TB]. This wall is a function of the fact that older operating systems [like XP] will have issues properly recognizing and utilizing all four 750GB platters of the 3TB drive. This is a limitation of using an MBR when formatting a drive rather than a GUID partition. Many operating systems will support the 3TB drive as a storage drive with the exception of XP. This means that Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OSX 10.5 and higher and Linux should all get support. The only problem that then arises is that the drive must communicate with the motherboard via a UEFI motherboard firmware. Current motherboards run a BIOS based firmware which is not conducive to the 3TB drives as they need GPT Partitioning and a UEFI motherboard firmware. Seagate's software approach for users that have an issue with 2.2TB wall
Seagate chose to resolve this temporary issue by creating a software package (i.e. hard drive overlay) that allows user to recover the remaining storage capacity. This is in contrast to their competitor, Western Digital, who currently uses a hardware solution to resolve the 2.2TB barrier
. Once more people begin to purchase motherboards that utilize UEFI, there will be no need for either. Currently, many of the P67 motherboards from Intel feature a UEFI motherboard firmware which enables the GPT
which is what is necessary in order to utilize beyond 2.2TB of storage.
Getting to the drive itself, we see that the Barracuda XT 3TB on paper doesn’t really seem much better than the 2TB other than by size. They both utilize SATA 6Gb/s and they both have 64MB of cache.
We will be taking these figures into account and seeing whether or not the drive meets or exceeds their numbers as well as our expectations. In the past, the Barracuda XT 2TB was not necessarily the best performing drive out there, but perhaps Seagate has made some tweaks to their drives to actually make them better.
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