WD introduced the latest addition to its Caviar Green family of SATA drives on Tuesday. The company claims the new product is the world's largest capacity SATA drive.
WD has achieved the higher capacity by increasing the areal density to 750 GB per platter. In addition, the company is using Advanced Format technology, which writes 4,096 bytes per data sector. That number is eight times the 512 bytes used for years in drives. Advanced Format is an industry standard available to other hard drive makers.
WD's new drive breaks the 2.19 TB limit that existed before the latest advancements. However, because WD is using the latest standard, there are some restrictions in use of the drive.
For one, the drive can only be used without any additional technology in the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. In addition, the systems' motherboards have to support the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, a specification meant to replace the older BIOS firmware interface in most PCs today.
For systems that do not support UEFI, WD is shipping the new drive with a host bus adapter that will enable the OS to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives. Also, if the new drive is used only as a non-bootable data drive, which means only as an additional drive for storage, then an adapter is not needed.
The 3TB Caviar Green is available as of Tuesday for a manufacturer's suggest retail price of $239. A 2.5 TB model is available for $189.
While WD is the first to introduce a 3TB internal SATA drive, its rival Seagate introduced a 3 TB external storage drive four months ago. The high-capacity FreeAgent GoFlex Desk is available with an optional base for either a FireWire 800 or USB 3.0 connector. The drive, which comes with a USB 2.0 base, has a starting price of $250.