Future Hard Drive Upgrades Will Slow Down XP Users

Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world, but users might be given a firm reason to upgrade soon. The BBC reports that, as hard drives expand their sector sizes from 512 bytes to a new industry standard of 4 kilobytes, XP users could see a performance hit, especially when writing data.

Some advanced drives will be able to emulate the older sector sizes for compatibility, but still, those building their own computers or trading up on hard drives may see notable performance problems. If you're a devoted XP user facing down the future of storage, tell us how you plan to adapt in the comments. Photo by Ody5iu5.

BBC News


Comments

    OK, I'm confused here. XP uses the same files systems as Windows 7, ie. FAT32 and NTFS; so how come XP will suffer but Windows 7 won't?

    The BBC article that is linked talks about sector sizes, it states that XP is 512byte aware but not 4K sector size aware like windows 7. WTF? If I formatted my XP drive using only 512byte sectors I couldn't get bigger than a 2GB drive.

    What am I missing here?

    The issue here is that Windows XP’s kernal was written with the understanding that data would be written to the disk in chunks of 512.

    Thus when the system writes data, it puts it into 512 chunks, then shoots them off to the disk where the disk writes them onto the platter.

    The change here is that now the chunks on the platter are 4kb in size, this means the disk will receive the 512 chunk, cache it. Receive the next chunk, cache it and repeat until it has 4kb. It will then write the whole 4kb to disk.

    The performance hit is in this caching operating. It means the disk is performing 2 actions per 512 chunk (with a 3rd at the end of the 4kb chunk) versus the 1 every 512 chunk.

    Windows 7 and Vista have the ability to write in 4kb chunks, which means no caching process :)

    The advantages of the 4kb chunk size are huge. Data is written to the platter like so:
    [chunk]512b of data[/chunk]SPACE HERE[chunk]512b of data[/chunk]SPACE HERE etc etc.

    On big disks this means you will have lets say 10000 chunks, each of which has a start tag and end tag, and a space between them.

    with the 4kb chunks you will now have:
    [chunk]4kb of data[/chunk]SPACE HERE[chunk]4kb of data[/chunk]SPACE HERE etc etc.

    Which doesn’t seem any different, except that now less chunks are needed, something like 1250 chunks rather than 10000. This is a lot of saved space in that there are less tags, and less chunks means less space is used separating the chunks.

    It will see anything up to 11% increases in storage capacity, better data security (due to better error checking with the space they saved) and slightly faster file speeds.

    Sorry for the wall of text :) Hope it helps :)

    P.S. I reposted to fix the issue with my tags being removed from my post. Silly blog software >.<

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