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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Western Digital Advance Format Drives

Recently I had the wall with a new technology from Western Digital known as "Advance Format". Well, hit the wall as in I do not think my HDD is performing as it is suppose to be and in fact doing pretty badly at it. The HDD keep chunking and I had been checking for signs for malware or background process. I did not have this issue when I was on my previous Seagate 7200.11. In any case, you will notice what I have here is basically just a string of bad luck.

Firstly, what is Advance Format. It may sound deep, but basically all it means is that it is using 4K cluster instead of the legacy 512bytes which has been like 10 years or so... Thats all to it. Well, if you want the details, AnandTech did a good write up to explain how this will open the door for further larger capacity drives as well as how this can save some space because of using 1 ECC for a 4K block instead of like 8 ECC for 8 x 512Bytes block.

AnandTech on WD Advance Format:

OK, strangely, this is already supported in Windows Vista, 7, 2008 but not the older legacy OS based on the Windows 5.x core like Windows 2003, XP etc. Please do not even ask me about Windows 2000... So that means somehow you get very bad performance (due to misaligned sector all the time) or it simply doesn't work at all. WD had came up with a utility (together with Acronis) which in my opinion is nothing more than a tool that checks for 512bytes clusters and basically convert the whole partition to 4K cluster. There is also a version that works in Windows (with Paragon), but it can be 3X slower as indicated by WD. In addition, you can test out your scenario to see if you need to run this at all using the wizard on the right here:

So far from what I see so far, the only affected range of HDD which has the Advance Format functionality is those ending with EARS. I have another drive with EADS, but according to sources it should not be affected. Maybe I should send WD an email to confirm this. Another pressing problem is that Windows 2003 is not affected or supported.

Update : OK here is what I think and understand so far. I had send queries to WD, hope they will give a solid answer.

  • Jumper 7-8 : Only if you are using the HDD as 1 partition. >1 partition, you can forget about this.
  • Windows 2003 : Supported using the Acronis Boot CD. But to what effects, I am not sure. I suppose it will behave like Windows XP
  • EADS drives : Not supported by AF. In short, does not apply to you.
  • WHS : See Windows 2003 above. Also note that because of the dynamic disk, high chance of screwing this up...

1 comment:

NemesisV said...

I just got confirmation from WD that EADS does not need to run WD Align at all. The tools just happen to be there...

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