Western Digital drives have began incorporating a new type of formatting technology, which will allow them to run faster, support larger capacities and improve overall storage capabilities by using a larger sector size, namely 4k. Such larger physical sectors will increase format efficiency and even that of storage space allocation by increasing the block size of the Error Correcting Code (ECC).
User data on current media formats is stored in 512 byte sectors. The larger 4k sectors and the increased ECC block size enable higher format efficiency and increase data integrity, with the total Error Correcting capabilities improving by 50%. The Advanced Format will only be possible when installing a new Operating System but the procedure will remove Sync/DAM blocks, inter-sector gaps and 8 separate blocks of ECC, yielding a disk space increase of roughly 7-11%.
Even though many disk drive interfaces are already capable of allowing higher sector sizes (the RAID and SSD block erase sizes are multiples of 4k or more), there are still many points in a computer system, which can only handle 512 byte sectors. To provide compatibility with them, the sectors will still be emulated as 512 bytes, which means that drives will have the same number of sectors at the drive interface. This means that the Advanced Format will not remove the current difficulties encountered by Windows XP and other legacy operating systems when trying to handle storage units of over 2TB.
The WD Advanced Format is especially optimized for Windows 7 and MAC OS, but will also work for Windows Vista and XP. It will be implementable with a clean install only, as the actual sector allocation occurs at very low levels, which means that current drives won't be able to enact such a formatting procedure via firmware. Depending on the configuration, users may have to make use of the WD Align utility and apply a jumper on pins 7-8 (for windows XP).
More information, with the exact procedure for each OS, as well as a download service for the WD Align utility may be found here.