Last year Seagate released the first 3TB hard drive in the shape of the Barracuda XT which was only available in external storage devices. Today Seagate have announced the standalone version of the same drive which can be bought for desktop systems, with a nice twist.
The new drive has been designed to support Windows XP, which is still very much used by the worldwide audience. Up until today, other makes such as Hitachi and Western Digital offer 3TB support in Windows XP, but only in a non bootable state.
The reason behind this is that 32 bit Windows operating systems can only use the legacy master boot record (MBR) which has a limitation size of 2.19TB, to control the hard drive. Once the storage goes above 2.19TB the rest becomes inaccessible. Additionally, to make matters more complicated, Windows computers use a BIOS based motherboard and they can't boot from volumes bigger than 2.19TB either, due to the limitation of BIOS protocols.
This can be cured however with a GUID Partition table and BIOS with new Extensible Firmware interface, however many older computers running Windows XP won't have this in place.
Seagate have new DiscWizard software which allows the user to get access to the full 3TB even when the drive is going to be used as a bootable main drive. Once the OS has been installed on the new hard drive on a partition that the OS can recognise (smaller than 3TB) you install Discwizard which includes special drivers to allow the OS to recognise the rest of the hard drive's capacity, therefore another partition can be created.
The only limitation is that the hard drive can't be a single partition, but this wouldn't be an ideal setup anyway. Much better using a large portion of the 3TB storage for backups and files in case of an OS failure.
Users of EFI based Windows Vista and Windows 7 64 bit can use the 3TB Barracuda just like a normal drive.
Technically, the drive is very capable indeed with a generous 64mb cache across a 6GBps Sata interface, spinning at 7,200 rpm. The recommended price is only quoted in US right now, at $279. We would therefore guess that UK'ers will have to pay around £250 when it hits these shores.
KitGuru says: A very clever idea from Seagate indeed.