3 (and 4?) TB drives coming soon

A Seagate product manager has reportedly confirmed that 3 TB drives are coming this year. And my sources say 4 TB drives are also due in the next 90-120 days - something pricing trends also suggest. Should you wait to buy?

A Seagate product manager has reportedly confirmed to Thinq that 3 TB drives are coming this year. But sources say 4 TB drives are also due in the next 90-120 days - something pricing trends also suggest. Should you wait to buy?

History Besides the unusual pre-announcement by a product manager - these things usually get more complete corporate announcements - it is about time. 2 TB drives were first announced in January 2009 and drive capacity has historically grown at ≈40% a year. We're due.

A few weeks ago WD announced a 10k 600 GB VelociRaptor - double the size of the previous model. They've been first out of the gate several times in the last few years.

Pricing trends A 2 TB drive in an USB/eSATA enclosure was on sale for $120 the other day - a stunning deal when many 1 TB drives are still going for $70-$80 online. Such price decreases are common before a new announcement to clear old inventory and make pricing room for the new high-end product.

The XP problem Much consternation over Seagate's report that XP won't support the full capacity of the 3 (or 4?) TB drives. Evidently the original 32-bit XP can't handle enough Logical Block Addresses to go beyond a 2.1 TB boot drive.

With the 4k sector problem and - finally - a perfectly good upgrade to Windows 7 available, it is time for XP users who are pushing the capacity envelope to upgrade.

Mac Mac users: no problem. OS X has supported 8 TB since 10.2 and 10.4 supports 8 exabytes - or 8 million TB.

The Storage Bits take Don't rush out to buy one unless you absolutely have a pressing business need. The 1st quarter of volume drive production is when manufacturing processes are debugged - and you don't want a buggy drive.

The XP angst is way overblown: how many XP users are still running SP1 and need a 3 TB boot drive? Somewhere between 0 and none I'll wager.

And those 4 TB drives? Current 2 TB drives are 4 platter designs, but 5 platters can fit into a standard 3.5" form factor. A 4 platter 3 TB drive - ≈750 GB per platter - would be about 4 TB with 5 platters. Since heads and platters aren't cheap, expect to pay for the privilege of a 4 TB drive, as well as a slower ramp to volume.

The really good news with the higher capacity drives? Better performance for large file apps like video editing. More on that soon.

Comments welcome, of course. Expect great deals on 2 TB drives Real Soon Now.

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