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Seagate Intros 3TB Hard Drive

The Barracuda XT hard drive ships with software that makes it possible to bypass the 2TB limit of Windows PCs running older BIOS.

Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB Hard Drive
(click image for larger view)
Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB Hard Drive

Seagate has introduced a 3 terabyte desktop drive and software that makes it possible to override the technical limitations that prevent many PCs from running hard disk drives larger than 2 TB.

The Barracuda XT internal hard drive, released Tuesday, includes Seagate's DiscWizard software that makes it possible to access all 3TB of storage on legacy systems running older BIOS with Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7.

The software fools the system into thinking it is running two separate hard drives. The Barracuda XT is partitioned, so that 2 TB of storage is set aside as the bootable hard drive, while the remainder is treated as a second drive for storing data. Within Windows Explorer, the operating system's file manger, each partition is seen as a separate hard drive, David Burks, product-marketing director for Seagate, said in an interview.

The software is expected to be particularly useful in professional workstations and high-end PCs running older BIOS with Vista and Windows 7, which are the OSes commonly used in these systems today, Burks said. In the future, new systems are expected to ship with a specification called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, a boot-loader and runtime interface between platform firmware and the operating system. UEFI supports the larger storage hard drives, Burks said.

The Barracuda XT hard drive has a 64-MB cache for "burst performance" in cache-intensive applications, such as PC gaming and video editing. The cache is combined with the drive's 6 Gbps SATA interface. The 3.5-inch drive runs at 7200 rpms.

The Barracuda XT and DiscWizard software are expected to be available in a couple of weeks. The manufacturer suggested retail price is $279.

Seagate released last June a 3-TB external hard drive called the FreeAgent GoFlex Desk, which costs $250. The drive comes with a USB 2.0 base, with optional USB 3.0 or FireWire 800 bases available for an additional $40 and $50, respectively.

Beyond the professional and gaming markets, the push for larger hard drives stems from a growing need for storage among consumers using their computers for storing high-definition video, pictures and music. A drive with 3 TB of storage can store up to 120 HD moves, 1,500 video games, thousands of photos and even more music files.

Seagate rival Western Digital introduced its first 3 TB internal hard drive last October. Without software like Seagate's, the WD SATA drive, sold under the Caviar Green brand, can only be used in the 64-bit versions of Window Vista and Windows 7. In addition, the systems' motherboards have to support the UEFI.

For systems with older BIOS firmware, WD ships along with the drive a host bus adapter that will enable the OS to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives. An adapter is not needed if the drive is used only for storage, and not as a bootable drive.

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