New Improved Storage Format
Till now all hard drives are formatted into 512 kb blocks of size. The 512kb size came from IBM which used it on it’s Floppy drive. The problem with this is that all blocks have marker telling where the block is beginning, a dedicated area to store error correction codes. In addition to this space has to be left between each blocks which leads to wastage of space.In the above picture from the point where it is denoted as starting till the red coloured part is one block. The red coloured block represents the area where error correction codes are stored. The greed coloured parts denote the empty space between each block. As one can observe the total storage space which is usable is very less when we use 512 kb block size. This is the reason why we cannot use the full capacity of hard disk.
Now hard disk manufacturers have decided to adopt a new format i.e using a 4k block. Moving to an advanced format of 4K sectors means about eight times less wasted space but will allow drives to devote twice as much space per block to error correction."We can put more data on the disk," he said. "It’s about 7-11% more efficient as a format."
One may think why should I bother about it. The reason is that except windows xp all operating systems including recent versions of linux and Mac os support 4k blocks. Does that mean the end of hard drives for Windows XP, currently the world’s top operating system? Not quite. Then plan is gracious enough to call for the 4 KB (4096 byte segment) to be aligned with the past 512 byte segment. So Windows XP users can still buy new drives and use them.
But the problem is with the performance .In some cases what took a single operation on older drives will take two operations due to an emulation layer needed to allow Windows XP to treat the new drive format like the old one. Overall, experts estimate users will take a 10 percent performance hit.
We all love windows xp for it’s unrivalled performance, but when we use newer hard disks the performance will be hit. Already stats indicate that windows 7 has hit 10% market share and xp is slowly loosing it’s share because most companies are upgrading to windows 7. So be ready to bid farewell to world’s most used operating system.