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Old 19. Aug 2010, 03:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Research Update #2
This is the last installment (hope it helps others)...

As I have an older XP system and I am looking into trying out Linux I have since learned that the new HDD technology can be somewhat challenging. The right hardware and software component is now even more important.

So far Easeus Partition Manager looks good (up to 2TB support, but no W/64 support). Paragon free looks good too (Windows and Linux support).

Research results...

New Technology Considerations.

4096 byte sectors instead of 512 byte sectors.
The new technology drives use 4096 byte sectors, whereas most operating systems and/or partitioning tools are used to 512 byte sectors. This will cause problems if care is not taken when partitioning the drive for Linux, BSD, possibly other alternative operating systems. Windows XP and earlier are the worst effected, according to the manufacturer. Basically you have to align the partitions yourself so that they start on sectors divisible by 8. Windows Vista and Windows 7 apparently handle this out of the box.

Partioning Considerations

If you misalign your partitions, disk performance can suffer.

Performance Issues: If you don't know what you're doing, you can get lousy write performance (a factor of 3.3 performance drop across the board).
Linux is not "unaffected", e.g critical Linux tools like fdisk.

User Experience: To use fdisk, create a primary partition like normal. Once the partition is created, type 'x' to get into expert mode, then use the 'b' command to move the starting sector of the partition. Make sure that it is an integer multiple of 8.

The problem is that fdisk starts partitions on "cylinder" boundaries. The cylinders are 'faked', and they're reported as being 63 sectors. As a result, your partitions will start on 63-sector boundaries. 63 is obviously not a multiple of 8. Move the start of your first partition to block 64, and it makes all the difference in the world. Same goes for all other partitions. Realign them.

User experience: I ran benchmarks in Linux using a number of filesystems, and I found that with most filesystems, read performance and write performance with large files didn't suffer with misaligned partitions, but writes of many small files (unpacking a Linux kernel archive) could take several times as long with misaligned partitions as with aligned partitions.

Note: Physical versus Logical
This new technology drive uses the new 4KB physical sector, not to be confused with 4KB logical sectors. When you format a standard drive to have 4KB sectors that only relates to the logical size of the sectors, not their physical size. The physical sector size is set at manufacturing.

Operating System Considerations

If you are planning on running Windows XP on this drive you must either jump pins 7 and 8 or run an Alignment application.

User Experience: Read that by inserting short on Pins 7&8 you can use these in WHS as data drive (NOT, NOT, NOT as System drive!!!). Tried it and it works fine.

NB: User Experience is not mine (I found them while doing my research). I think they give a 'howto' perspective to the Rules of Thumb.
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