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Data Storage Hardware

The First Terabyte Hard Drive Reviewed 495

mikemuch writes "ExtremeTech has a review and benchmarks of the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB Hard Drive, which ushers in the terabyte age. It performs well on HDTach and PCMark benchmarks, though not as speedily as professional-grade drives. It could be just the ticket for digital media junkies. 'One of the first issues to note is that you may not see an actual one terabyte capacity on your system. First, the formatted capacity is always less than the raw space available on the drive. Directory information and formatting data always take up some space. Second, the hard drive industry's definition of a megabyte differs from the rest of the PC business. One megabyte of hard drive space is 1,000,000 bytes: 10^6 bytes. Operating systems calculate one megabyte as 2^20 bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes. Once installed and set up, Hitachi's 1TB hard drive offers up an actual formatted capacity of about 935GB, as measured by the OS. That's still a lot of space, by anyone's definition.'" Update: 05/17 21:52 GMT by Z : Adding '^s' missing from article.
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The First Terabyte Hard Drive Reviewed

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  • Zonk (Score:1, Insightful)

    by x_MeRLiN_x ( 935994 ) * on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:26PM (#19169865) Homepage
    If you're going to give a condescending explantion of how hard drive space is measured ("News For Nerds"), at least get it right.

    We all have our own opinions about Slashdot editors, but it's hard to believe Zonk even read the summary. It's nonsense.
  • by Grelli ( 98061 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:33PM (#19170029) Homepage
    Don't complain about the fact a megabyte isn't what you thought it was. Complain about the fact the industry still uses it for labels. But don't try and make the megabyte a mebibyte. [] vs []
  • Ahh Slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by terrymr ( 316118 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:33PM (#19170043)
    Where nobody R's the TFA but instead spends their time making fun of the summary.
  • by DocSavage64109 ( 799754 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:35PM (#19170063)
    GiBs and MiBs are silly anyway. I happen to prefer Microsoft's usage in this case.
  • by linguae ( 763922 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:44PM (#19170257)

    The reason why nobody uses "mebibyte", "kibibyte", "gibibyte", and all of these other terms are because of two reasons: they are new and relatively unknown, and they just sound stupid and unnatural (try pronouncing them). It is commonly accepted knowledge in electrical engineering and computer science circles that we use 2^10, 2^20, 2^30, etc. when describing kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes, respectively, except when dealing with data storage capacities (which I feel is a marketroid invention and a sales gimmick. "10^9 vs. 2^30? Who'll know the difference?"). It's been that way since the 1960s. The new terms like "mebibyte," "gibibyte," and the rest of them just sound silly, hard to pronounce, and unnatural.

  • Re:Damn... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by netscan ( 1028690 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:46PM (#19170297)

    I remember when I was 9 or 10 and the family computer could hold 10 gigs. That was nearly unfillable at the time. Sorry, just being nostalgic
    Okay, how many read this and said quietly to themselves "Man I'm old..."?
  • by Mundocani ( 99058 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:52PM (#19170403)
    Regardless of whether the original article had it wrong, someone at Slashdot should've read the posted summary text and noticed the error. You shouldn't be a "News for Nerds" editor and not immediately notice that the sentence makes absolutely no sense as written.
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:55PM (#19170469) Homepage Journal
    and redundant, don't forget redundant.

    seriously, The computer uses power of two, it's how it measures things. We should use BI prefix, anything else is just cheap used car saleman gimmicks.
  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:00PM (#19170581)
    Cue the ensuing Mebi/Gibi/Tebi vs. SI notation fights.

    While it's takes a while to get used to it, I actually prefer the Bi-units now. 4,3GiB or 4,7GB is already a huge difference when talking about DVD capacity. At terabyte, it gets enormous.

    Linux already uses those units.

    Only place where I still see a purpose for using binary units in computing is memory - address bus is still addressed exactly with n lines so memory capacity will be 2^n. For all other cases, it's not needed. Yes, the hard drives have 512 to 4096 byte sectors, but who cares when were talking about trillions of them?

    See [] for more.
  • by Mattintosh ( 758112 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:02PM (#19170621)
    The difference between the two numbers is due to this:

    Manufacturers have an interest in you paying more and getting less, while computers do not. Manufacturers who are successful and have the cash to spend can then lobby international standards bodies to skew "standards" in their favor, regardless of historical context and practical day-to-day usage patterns (both technical and linguistic).

    Don't side with "the man" on /. unless you enjoy tar + feathers, not even if it means bucking the "standard".
  • Re:Ahh Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tatisimo ( 1061320 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:09PM (#19170715)
    Those "empty rectangles" are to a web site what a tip jar is to a street musician or an empty cup to a hobo. It's where you throw in your part to keep 'em going... (and maybe keep 'em drunk, too!)
  • Re:Deathstar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:11PM (#19170769)
    Such too can have the 1TB "click of death"...

    Now when will the first 1TB drive come out with a name I can trust? (Seriously, how they never retired the DeskStar name is beyond me.)

    If you don't know what I mean... []

  • Re:WOW, 1TB (Score:3, Insightful)

    by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:16PM (#19170851) Homepage

    I can not wait to get to my first 6TB system! I may have said, many years ago, that I would never fill 1gig, but I know I can fill 6TB It should not take me more than a couple of months.

    There's one big difference though:

    When you bought your 10 MB drive, you were going to store your operating system and word processor documents on it, with a few games.
    When you bought your 100 MB drive, you stored the same, plus a few MP3s.
    When you bought your 1 GB drive, you stored a large part of your music collection on it.
    When you bought your 100 GB drive, you stored your entire music collection on it, as well as a few TV show seasons and several movies.
    When you bought your 10 TB drive, you stored... more movies...

    You see? We've been increasing the capacity of what we can store, so we went from regular files, to MP3s, to whole movies, to whole TV seasons... but from there? What takes more space than a season of a TV show? What is the next magnitude of data file size? What will you store on your 10 TB drive that will take up all the space?
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:30PM (#19171115) Journal

    But don't try and make the megabyte a mebibyte.

    Don't try to invent a new notation to make-up for corporate marketing corrupting established and well-understood notation.
  • Re:WOW, 1TB (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DocSavage64109 ( 799754 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:34PM (#19171169)
    Good luck playing back some MP3s on your 33Mhz 386 that came with that 100MB hard drive, heheh. Maybe replace those MP3s with MODs?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:47PM (#19171405)
    So it's been 8 years of "kibibytes" as a so-called standard, as opposed to 30+ years of IT people understanding that the standard was "kilobyte = 1024 bytes". Add that to the fact "kibibyte" sounds completely gay, is it really any wonder why the standard hasn't caught on?
  • by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:07PM (#19171721)

    Don't try to invent a new notation to make-up for corporate marketing corrupting established and well-understood notation.
    I would point out the "mega" was an established and well-understood prefix for 10^6 well before the computer industry (sans hard drive makers) started to use it mean 2^20.
  • by jZnat ( 793348 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:10PM (#19171755) Homepage Journal
    You'd have to be insane to have only a single partition on a 1 EB drive...
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:23PM (#19171941) Homepage Journal

    They are still wrong. The fundamental organization of computers is base 2. Ever try to design a processor that uses 1000 byte pages? Good freaking luck.

    The purpose of SI units being in base 10 is because the number system that we use to measure things is ALSO in base 10. Therefore, the unit fits comfortably within mathematics associated with the relative fields. However, A base-10 numbering scheme basically does not exist in the computing world; obscure BCD hardware notwithstanding, all occurrences of base ten in computing are entirely a fiction created by the machine to try to make things more understandable to people used to base 10.

    More to the point memory and storage are inherently organized in units of powers of two. Memory will ALWAYS be organized in power-of-two increments as long as computer operate based on the binary system. Why? Because this makes it possible to express divisions of memory in terms of bit boundaries. A power-of-10 memory organization would require computationally heavy division or multiplication operations throughout the memory management code, while a power-of-2 memory organization requires an extremely lightweight bit shift. For this reason, as long as we have binary-based computers, we are stuck with power-of-two units of RAM.

    Similarly, a hard drive block will ALWAYS be evenly divisible by the size of a memory page or vice versa. If this were not the case, the complexity of writing an operating system would be beyond insane. Paging and memory mapping of files alone would be enough to make the engineers commit seppuku. Therefore, as long as RAM is organized into groupings based on powers of two, hard drives will always be physically laid out in blocks whose length is a power of two.

    Because the fundamental organization of data in a computer is, by nature, organized into power-of-two units, describing storage in power-of-ten units makes no sense, as it will almost always be a crude approximation. There are probably exactly zero hard drives with an exact decimal gigabyte capacity. The fundamental storage in hard drives is a 512 byte block, and 512 does not divide evenly into most multiple-of-ten values. Sure, you could create a 512 decimal gigabyte drive, I suppose, but for the most part, the values just don't divide evenly by 512. Therefore, using a multiple of a power-of-ten number to describe the amount of storage will almost always be a very crude approximation, while using a multiple of a power-of-two number can be (and usually is) an exact value.

    In other words, the idiots in charge of making up the SI units should have been taken out and beaten for "Gibibyte". There is one natural unit in computers, and that is the base-2-derived gigabyte. All base-10 units are inherently inaccurate, and thus a poor fit for computing. They should be summarily rejected by the industry, as they simply do not make any sense in the context of storage. Honestly, they don't make a lot of sense for networking, either for the same reason, but I'm willing to overlook that... for now....

  • by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:28PM (#19172019)
    well hey, they decided to do that in electronics with direction of current.
  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:57PM (#19172351)
    You can buy 1000 times the capacity for less money than you would pay 15 years ago. That's one of the best rip offs in history.
  • Re:WOW, 1TB (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:20PM (#19172633) Homepage

    What will you store on your 10 TB drive that will take up all the space?

    High quality 1080p video. Animated textures for video games. A massive sample database for a voice synthesizer.

    I'm not actually sure what you would do with a 10,000 TB hard disk - but 10 TB is well within the "use it up with some video" range.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:56PM (#19172981) Homepage Journal
    I think the new prefixes are irritating, and that the people that made the binary prefixes are of the OCD type. It is best to ignore the OCD types. It usually doesn't really matter to be that precise in talking data storage capacities.
  • by trentblase ( 717954 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:10PM (#19173091)
    :) My point was why change what works? It seems that megabytes were used to mean 2^20 years before SI was ratified. I doubt cent is short for centidollar, although cent and centi are obviously related in that they both derive from Latin for hundred. I'm sure I'll eventually come around to these heinous sounding "mebi" and "gibi" prefixes, but I'm not going without a fight. And neither, apparently, are the vast majority of the population.
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:22PM (#19173193) Homepage Journal
    English is defined by common use, not by edicts. The IEC and others can recommend or make standards, and people can choose to use them, but that doesn't mean that the traditional usage isn't equally valid.

    I doubt most "ordinary people" even know the *bi prefixes. Much less would have any clue what the difference is.

  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:30PM (#19173281) Homepage Journal
    Bytes isn't an SI unit.

    And I've yet not heard anyone except annoying geeks use the *bi prefixes.

  • Re:Oh OH! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:45PM (#19173453)
    Since when do two raided 500G drives count as "one 1TB drive". Since NEVER, is when. (Yes, that's what in those external 1TB that's been available before this one)
  • Re:Zonk (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:49PM (#19173497)

    This is still not really correct: One megabyte of hard drive space is 1,000,000 bytes: 10^6 bytes. Operating systems calculate one megabyte as 2^20 bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes.

    It should read: Hard disk manufacturing company marketing departments define one megabyte of hard drive space as 1,000,000 bytes: 10^6 bytes. Fucking reality calculates one megabyte as 2^20 bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes.

  • Re:Deathstar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:17PM (#19173703)

    DeskStar = DeathStar ...yup, I've had more DeathStars fail than any other drive except for Connor and big old Maxtors

    I'll wait for Seagates, thank you.

  • by HappyEngineer ( 888000 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:19PM (#19173725) Homepage

    The computer uses power of two, it's how it measures things
    It does except when it doesn't. How many flops exist in a teraflop? The answer is exactly 1 trillion flops.

    In any case, hard drives are sold to the public. Most of the public doesn't know how to count in binary. Whether or not the engineers use powers of two is irrelevant when you're marketing something.

    I agree that the bi versions should be used if you mean the version that's a power of two. It's silly to have a kilometer be 1000 meters, a kilogram be 1000 grams, a kiloliter be 1000 liters, and a kilobyte be 1024 bytes.

    People, consistency is good. Anything else gets your probe smashed into Mars.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:49AM (#19175795) Journal
    It's common practise to use the highest number when representing something in an ad. Like for instance Cirrus aircraft advertise their aircraft's speed in MPH, when pilots actually use knots. This is because you get a number on the ad that's 15% bigger. And I bet Cirrus advertise the speed of their planes in Europe in km/h because this yields an even bigger number.

    Personally, I wish we'd just get on with it and switch to base 16. It would be so much more convenient, and I'd be back in my early 20s again!
  • by UncleFluffy ( 164860 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @04:12AM (#19175893)

    Firstly, the 'mega' prefix (for example) was defined to mean 10^6

    Well, it was defined as such only in the context of SI physical units, which do not include bytes.

    Although people have much later tried to define it with respect to bytes as well, there are a large number of people (including myself) who regard this as unwanted interference with something that has worked very well for the majority of the lifetime of the computing field. It has increased confusion, not reduced it, because prior to this mebi-rubbish, usage was unequivocally determined by context.

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Friday May 18, 2007 @06:11AM (#19176421) Homepage
    Probably because for certain storage, such as memory, you need to make them binary sizes for practical reason.

    For example, a 1MiB memory-module can be completely adressed by exactly by precisely 20 adress-lines, for which any combination represents a valid address.

    But the "MiB" was only invented in 1998 (and became well-known significantly later than that), so how are you supposed to specify the capacity of the memory-modules you sell in a consumer-friendly way ?

    Are you going to claim computer X comes with 1048576 bytes of storage ? That numbers seems very arbitrary for a non-tech person. It gets worse if your computer has 16Mib --- it's easy for consumers to compare "16" to "8" and conclude that the former is double, it's significantly less inituitive to deal with 8388608 versus 16777216 bytes. And you'd get lots of silly questions.

    So, in short, we needed a name for 2**10, 2**20 and so on and had none, so somebody went with "KB" and "MB" etc, probably because they where "close" to correct.

    I dunno, perhaps it'd have been better if they'd been sold as 16*2^20 modules. The problem is, offcourse, that people are unable to deal with scientific notation, many would think that 64*2^20 is more than 1*2^30 or atleast have serious problems comparing them.

    Today, offcourse, the MiB exists and there's basically no excuse for not using it.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission