[RndTbl] Linux 4K drive formatting

Hartmut W Sager hwsager at marityme.net
Sat Jan 19 18:37:11 CST 2013

 For starters, are we talking about the possibility of 4 KB sector size
instead of 512 bytes?

I don't have Linux-specific (or even Unix-specific) knowledge on this, but
I sure know about this topic overall and have strong thoughts.

That asinine 512 byte sector size that we got from the original IBM PC-XT
around 1982-1983 has been a huge space waster and efficiency killer ever
since!  It truly ought to be relegated to the trash heap (of history).  In
fact, the concept of a cluster in the DOS/Windows FAT file systems was only
created for this reason, and it only partially offset the problem (it
doesn't address the space wastage).  Even with a perfect OS, many of the
older hard disk controllers were themselves retricted to 512 byte sectors.

Even the older versions of DOS and Windows had settable parameters for
media sector size, but forums pointed out that these had never been
properly tested.  Interestingly, the Fujitsu magneto-optical drives that I
handled in the 1990's and early 2000's used multi-KB sectors (as did all
other magneto-optical drives), and came with drivers and/or software to
"make them work" with DOS/Windows.

So, I encourage larger sectors, and hope that the current Linux world
handles them well.  I should think that modern SATA and SCSI hardware
controllers (especially the SATA controllers on the disks) can handle this.

Hartmut Sager

On 19 January 2013 17:54, Kevin McGregor <kevin.a.mcgregor at gmail.com> wrote:

> So... I picked up my lovely new WD Red 3 TB drives today and installed
> them in my home server.
> Now what? :-)  Specifically, I'm running Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS
> (2.6.32-45-server #102-Ubuntu SMP Wed Jan 2 22:53:00 UTC 2013 x86_64
> GNU/Linux), and I'm wondering if I should upgrade to Precise before I do
> anything with the drives, or use them as-is. I know I should align the
> partitions at (at least) 4 KB boundaries, and 10.04 by default uses 1 MB
> alignment, so I should be okay there.
> Should I worry that the drive reports
>  fdisk -l /dev/sdc
> Disk /dev/sdc: 2199.0 GB, 2199023254528 bytes
> 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 267349 cylinders
> Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
> Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
> I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
> ...instead of 3 TB, and thinks the sector and I/O size is 512 bytes?
> Advice, please!
> Kevin
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