When is 4k sector hdd happening, How will customer be affected – Dell PowerEdge R730xd User Manual
4K Sector HDD FAQ | Dell Inc., 2014
6. When is 4k sector HDD happening?
4k sector HDD started on Notebook HDD in Q3 ‘2010, on Desktop HDD in 2011, selective Cloud
Enterprise HDD in 2013 and will be on mainstream Enterprise HDD in 2014. Dell is leading this
transition by adopting these drives in PowerEdge , Power Vault, EqualLogic and Compellent systems.
Notebooks: The transition started with 2.5” notebook drives, starting with the largest capacity (750GB)
new drive families in late 2010. The mainstream 2.5” capacities (250GB-500GB) for notebooks
transitioned to 4k sector (512e) mid-2011.
Desktops: 3.5” HDD has ~3x the capacity point of 2.5” HDD so the demand of high capacity 3.5” HDD
was lagging the 2.5” HDD. The transition occurred with the 4TB product introduction in 2012.
Enterprise: New products in 2014 will have options for 512 native, 512e and 4k native models. This is to
provide seamless transition. By 2016, all new products will either be 512e or 4k native models, with
very few options for 512 native (such as with Helium drives).
7. How will customer be affected?
Customer who buys early version of 512e HDD and uses them with legacy OS and software will have
performance degradation and data integrity risk. See section 2 above for Known legacy OSes that are
not 4k aware. Most home grown cloud operating systems have been designed to operate with 4k
native or 512e format.
8. How does the customer avoid performance degradation?
Early adopter Client customer can minimize the performance degradation of 512e HDD by converting
to new OS and software that are “4k aware”. There is also 3rd party alignment software that reduces
the data misalignment on 512e HDD in conjunction with legacy OS & software device driver.
Currently, client systems are shipped with new OS that is 4k aware so the misaligned incidents are
reduced significantly. Benchmark showed no performance concerns with Client systems using latest
OS and later generation 512e drives.
Enterprise cloud customer have their own home grown OS that converts the atomic operation to 4k
bytes sector so 512e and 4k native drives are ready.
Traditional mission critical enterprise customer running traditional OS (Microsoft, Linux) and database
(Oracle, SQL) will have to align their disk partition and to apply best practice (see Microsoft knowledge
base and our next paper).
In addition, customer can choose to use the Enterprise version of 512e HDD with non-volatile cache
system to further minimize the performance degradation impact.
Customer can also choose 4k native HDD if he/she is only running with newer version of
BIOS/OS/Software. This solution stack will have the optimal performance
since the physical and
logical sectors are matched. However, it is limited to only newer BIOS/OS/Software.