A while back I wrote a short primer on the pending transition to 4K sectors in the hard drive industry, now officially anointed as Advanced Format by IDEMA (the standards body managing the coordinating this change in the industry).

Advanced Format is a good thing for the industry because it will help delivery higher capacity drives with stronger error correction capabilities (i.e. reliability). Furthermore, everyone will evenutually need to migrate to the Advanced Format because all hard drive vendors will eventually move to the 4K sector format.  However, customers need to think about how they will manage the transition as there are side effects when hard drive partitions are not created with “4K aware” software. Examples are Windows XP and a number of drive partitioning utilites comonly used by system builders and IT managers.

A new solutionwas recently released from Seagate making this hard drive partiion issue moot! It’s called SmartAlign. What is does is dynamically manage each individual miss-alignment condition within the hard drive firmware and without the host computer even knowing.  Test data confirms that the SmartAlign feature can do this while maintaining performance. This is pretty awesome when you consider that an un-aligned 4K hard drive will typically perform at about 30% of top performance. Ouch!

So if you’re  a system builder or IT guy who is installing or or upgrading a hard drive, which Advanced Format solution would you rather use? A 4k hard drive with a software utility that takes you at least 30 minutes to realign your partitions or a 4K hard drive that works just like the legacy 512 byte drives?  No further questions your honor.

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