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New standard to boost disk drive performance

Posted: 03 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Disk drive IDEMA? disk drive standard? increase drive memory?

Disk drive makers have put the finishing touches on a new standard that will expand the size of the basic chunks of memory stored on hard drives. By moving from 512- to 4,096-byte blocks, drive makers claim that they will lower error rates and boost performance on drives that will start sampling later this year.

The International Disk Drive, Equipment and Materials Association (IDEMA) has approved the so-called Long Block Data standard. Backers said it could reduce error rates ten-fold, thus reducing read or write retries and increasing throughput.

IDEMA has already been releasing the LBD sector standard and expects most drives will support the new spec by 2010.

Drives supporting the existing 512-byte spec will continue to be available for a transition period. The block standard has been in the works since IDEMA formed a committee in 2000 to replace the 30-year old 512-byte standard. In addition to greater reliability, the standard enables greater efficiency for data transfer because read and write operations have less overhead per block. In addition, the spec reduces format and maintenance time because users will be able to scan and defragment disks more quickly.

"The primary roadblock we had to overcome was legacy software that requires a 512-byte block size," said Joel Weiss, president of IDEMA. "By facilitating the discussion between both hard disk drive manufacturers and the leaders in operating system and BIOS software, we were able to establish a standard that is now accepted by the software industry and can be implemented in a way that is easily updateable and backward compatible," he said.

Windows Vista already supports the new 4,096-byte standard. Support for Linux is also available.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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