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Western Digital RE4-GP 2TB Review: Big Green Gets Meaner!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital
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Big Green Gets Meaner!

Since posting my Caviar Green 2TB review, I figured we would be wrapped up on Western Digital drives for a short while.  Hitting 2TB is a pretty significant milestone, and I would suspect hard drives to hang out at that capacity, since passing the 2TB barrier is a complicated proposition.  Drives with greater than 2^32 sectors (4,294,967,296 for those counting) require previously unconventional means to be properly read by the operating system.  Windows XP (32) is incapable of reading past the 2TB mark.  RAID cards vendors have all sorts of guides for sneaking past 2TB.  32 bit XP can pull it off with a bit of trickery in the form of changing the sector size from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes.  This works, but it is very finicky, and breaks many of the tools meant to accesses a device at the sector level.

Luckily, a fair number of us are moving to more modern operating systems.  I'd bet at least some of us are already downloading the new Windows 7 Release Candidate while reading this very article.  Using larger capacity drives is a non-event under these newer systems, as they can speak the proper 48-bit LBA language required for larger devices, and GPT is already in place to support partition sizes exceeding the old MFT limit of 2TB.  NTFS can hit 16 TiB with the default cluster size and 256 TiB if cluster size is increased to 64K.  LBA48 can support up to 144 Petabytes (144,000,000 gigabytes for those without enough fingers and toes remaining to figure it out).  That said; There are still a fair number of people out there running 32 bit XP, and I predict at least a brief pause in capacity increases while the rest of the world catches up
with Kryder's Law.

So just when I was shifting focus back to SSD goodness, Western Digital passed us a couple of their new RE4-GP series drives for review. 
I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.


The RE4 gets a spiffy black label, but don't confuse it with a 'Black' series drive.


Read on for more of the goods...
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