The WD Caviar Green 3 TB Hard Drive

The news that shocked everyone on Tuesday was Western Digitals formal announcement of the new WD Caviar® Green™ 3Terabytes spindle hard drive.  For many months rumours had been flying about the Seagate had one ready in the pipeline.  But that Western Digital was nearing launch.  One drive for the launch was not enough as we also witnessed the launch of the 2.5 Terabytes WD Caviar® Green™  drive .  Therefore this announcement did catch many analysts completely unawares.

Everyone calls out for bigger and faster storage and today we witness the significant uptake that Western Digital’s claims are actual fact.   4 Platters of 750GB quite the engineering feat.  One has to imagine when will the 1 Terabyte platter come.  If we are at these stages then we have to presume that within the Western Digital labs they could have this technology underway.

May last year took everyone by surprise with the WD announcement of the 2TB spindle drives.  Fast,  efficient and a good upgrade from the year previous launch of the 1TB drive.   Initially following the now traditional route of Green first and after some time Blue, Black and Enterprise variants of the new discs.   One notes from the initial documentation this we presume to be the case here as cleverly laid out are the jumper settings for enterprise usage already.

These new 3 Terabyte drives come with the usual array of Western Digitals technology supporting, Reduced power consumption, Perfect for external drives boxes, IntelliPower, IntelliSeek™, NoTouch™ ramp load technology and last but not least Advanced Format (AF) which will make life much easier for many end users.

So lets have a swift look at the official line directly from Western Digital on the new monstrous drives.

WD® (NYSE: WDC) today announced that the company is shipping the world’s largest capacity SATA hard drive. As the latest addition to its WD Caviar® Green™ family of SATA hard drives  (photo), the new hard drives deliver up to a massive 3 terabytes (TB) of storage capacity on a single drive. WD is leading the industry in capacity for SATA hard drives by utilising 750 GB-per-platter areal density and Advanced Format (AF) technology.

WD Caviar Green drives are an eco-friendly storage solution with WD GreenPower Technology™, which reduces power consumption by enabling lower operating temperatures for increased reliability and decreases acoustical noise for quiet operation. The WD Caviar Green 2.5 TB and 3 TB hard drives are designed for use as secondary external storage and next-generation PC storage in 64 bit-based systems.  

Drives with capacities in excess of 2.19 TB currently present barriers for PC hardware, firmware and software. To satisfy the new set of requirements of which users must be aware to successfully integrate larger capacity drives, WD is bundling its WD Caviar Green 2.5 and 3 TB hard drives with an Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI)-compliant Host Bus Adapter (HBA), which will enable the operating system to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives.

Use Larger Sector Sizes
One way to break the 2.19 TB boundary would be to use a larger sector size and keep the number of addressable blocks the same. By using sector sizes of 4096 (4K) bytes this would allow for systems to address a maximum capacity of 232 x 4096 bytes or 17.59 TB. Unfortunately, WD has determined through testing that is not feasible at this time due to many application incompatibilities with devices using sector sizes above 512 bytes. However, hard drive manufacturers are working with industry partners to implement larger native sector sizes in the future. WD has transitioned to using sector sizes of 4096 bytes or a 4 KB physical sector size on some hard drive models; this is referred to Advanced Format (AF) technology. Although the drive may be using a sector size of 4096 bytes to store data on the media, it reports and emulates a disk using 512 bytes (512e) to avoid application incompatibilities.

Use GPT Instead of MBR
The solution adopted by the industry is to use GUID Partition Tables, otherwise known as GPT, instead of Master Boot Record (MBR) partition tables. UEFI is a community effort by many companies in the computer industry to modernize the booting process. This partitioning method provides for up to 18 Exabyte (264) of Logical Block Addressing. UEFI capable systems are already shipping, and many more are in preparation.   Booting a current Windows operating system from a drive larger than 2.19 TB requires that the system have UEFI support, a 64-bit version of the OS and will create and use GPT partitions. The UEFI specification defines a new model for the interface between operating systems and platform firmware. The interface consists of data tables that contain platform-related information, plus boot and runtime service calls that are available to the operating system and its loader. Together, these provide a standard environment for booting an operating system and running pre-boot applications.

Implement WD’s Interim Solutions for Implementing Large Capacity Drives
Existing legacy (non-UEFI) BIOS motherboards and GPT-ready operating systems such as Windows Vista or Windows 7, combined with the appropriate storage class drivers, can use drives larger than 2.19 TB as secondary storage; but there are a number of host bus adapter (HBA) and chipset vendors that do not currently offer drivers that support drives larger than 2.19 TB. To provide a solution for these types of compatibility issues, WD is bundling large capacity WD Caviar® Green™ 2.5 TB and 3 TB drives with an AHCI-compliant HBA that, once installed, allows the operating system to use a known driver to correctly support large capacity drives. This bundle provides a short-term solution until the time when updated storage drivers and system software with support for large capacity drives become available.

Illustrative Example
: Should an end user decide to add a secondary drive to an existing desktop computer system that incorporates a chipset such as an Intel-based chipset on a legacy (non-UEFI) motherboard running an operating system such as Windows, the 3rd party storage class driver may not properly support a drive larger than 2.19 TB. If the large capacity drive is attached directly to the native motherboard SATA controller, the 3rd party driver may attach to the drive and the driver will not recognize the drive’s full capacity, resulting in an incompatibility issue. An attempt to uninstall the driver could render the whole system inoperable. However, when the drive is connected to the WD-bundled HBA, a Windows operating system would load native AHCI drivers that would correctly support large capacity drives and allow normal partitioning and use of the drive.

The example above is only one of many cases where the WD bundled HBA will solve the problem due to an incompatible driver.

How You Can Take Advantage of Large Capacity Drives
WD provides many options that you can use to take advantage of large capacity drives, even on current computer system configurations with today’s technologies.

  • Implement the WD bundle (large capacity WD Caviar Green 2.5 TB and 3 TB drives with an AHCI-compliant HBA) to 
      allow your system’s operating system to use a known driver to correctly support large capacity drives
  • Implementing a large capacity WD drive as the system start up drive will require a system with UEFI support and will
      use GPT partitions. Windows will require a 64 bit version of the operating system.
  • Implementing a large capacity WD drive in legacy systems will enable using the large capacity drive as secondary
      storage and will use GPT partitions.
  • Review the considerations for Windows-based operating systems above to help determine what options are
      available for implementing large capacity drives on your current systems, and to help you plan future operating
      system and computer system purchasing plans.

Contact your WD representative for additional information and assistance with implementing large capacity drives or visit our website at

Up to 360 hours of HD video

Mouse over each item to see how it was calculated.
(Examples of the number of photos, songs, videos and any other files that can be stored on a hard drive are provided for illustrative purposes only. Your results will vary based on file size and format, settings, features, software and other factors.)

One gigabyte (GB) = one billion bytes. One terabyte (TB) = one trillion bytes. Total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment

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