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Gigabyte Technology, one of the world's largest makers of mainboards and graphics cards, has announced a new utility, which will help to utilize large hard disk drives on 32-bit systems. At present the utility allows to utilize drives with 3TB and higher capacity on the most advanced mainboards, but eventually it will support all shipping platforms from Gigabyte.

The hard disk drives (HDDs) with higher than 2.19TB capacity have to use 64-bit operating system, new logical block addressing (LBA) standard along with new UEFI (universal extensible firmware interface) replacement for BIOS (basic input-output system) and sometimes 4KB sectors (up from 512 bytes on the vast majority of current drives),. While it is not hard to install a 64-bit operating system onto any more or less new personal computer, changing a mainboard with BIOS onto a mainboard with UEFI (which are not available widely) is a problem for a majority of PC owners and transiting from BIOS to UEFI is a headache for motherboard manufacturers. One of the solutions to make 3TB and similar drives work under 32-bit operating system, or on a PC that does not support UEFI is to utilize a special controller for large-capacity hard disks. Another one is to use special software that lets users to split the large drives into partitions and create virtual drives.

The Gigabyte 3TB+ Unlock Utility allows Gigabyte motherboards without Hybrid EFI to recognize and use unallocated space on new 3TB and larger hard disc drives (HDDs).

The utility lets the user to create a virtual drive with space that exceeds 2.19TB, the maximum amount of storage recognized by 32-bit versions of operating systems, such as Windows XP. The virtual drives are limited to 2048GB, and the user can create up to 128 partitions, as long as there is additional unallocated space on the HDD. 3TB+ Unlock supports both GPT (GUID Partition Table) and MBR (Master Boot Record) partition styles, however with MBR the number of partitions are limited to 8. The utility is similar to the one that Seagate ships along with its 3TB desktop HDD.

The 3TB+ Unlock currently supports new high-end motherboard models based on the Intel X58, Intel 6-series and AMD 8-series chipsets, and is in the process of being ported to older chipset models so that it will support all motherboards that are currently shipping. Even though end-users of mainboards featuring latest core-logic sets will hardly use 32-bit operating systems, far not all modern mainboards support EFI in thus may not support 3TB hard drives, which is why the utility from Gigabyte seems to be a useful one.

The utility is freely available from the utilities page of the official Gigabyte website.

Tags: Gigabyte, HDD

Discussion

Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 03/29/11 10:57:19 AM
Latest comment: 04/09/12 01:45:32 PM

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1. 
Yay!
0 0 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 03/29/11 10:57:19 AM]
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2. 
meh... why go to all that effort enabling it on obsolete hardware and software? just move away from windows XP already and get up to date hardware...
0 0 [Posted by: taltamir  | Date: 03/29/11 05:45:13 PM]
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3. 
as i understand the issue is that you cannot have a partition larger than 2Tbytes(1k=1024bytes) on a 32 bit system and boot from it. what's the problem?! i usually do not recommend to have a os partition larger than 100gig. why would someone want a 3TB boot partition?
0 0 [Posted by: HHCosmin  | Date: 03/29/11 11:54:47 PM]
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4. 
I think its great for 32 bit users but that really has to be a dying breed. I can't imagine who still buys and uses the 32 bit version of 7, vista or any of the numerous linux distros.

I can see some hardcore XP users needing this and I still have one old xp rig myself but the market has to be really small.
0 2 [Posted by: DEADTIME  | Date: 03/30/11 02:10:06 AM]
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5. 
The other comments on this page don't take into consideration a few important points about this tool.

1. This tool still doesn't allow a partition on a boot drive to exceed 2TB in length. It splits the physical drive into smaller virtual disks that can then be partitioned with the MBR format.

2. No version of Windows - including the three flavors of Windows 8 - boot from a GUID/GPT partitioned drive. If you're only going to have one hard drive in the system, and use a hard drive larger than 2TB, you can't partition it GUID, and have to sacrifice the extra space past the ~2TB mark, and even then you usually have to hand-write the MBR with a hex editor, because most partitioning tools won't even let you partition a large drive with the MBR partition format. If someone purchases a 3TB hard drive, and doesn't know or remember the 3TB limit, they'll have to purchase another smaller drive to boot from.

3. Hard drives under 2TB won't always be an option. Look at drives under 120GB. Can't buy them new anymore, can you? The hard drive manufacturers usually try not to discontinue drive sizes that are still necessary, but some day drives under 3TB will go away forever. If Microsoft hasn't released a version of Windows that supports booting from GUID and supports legacy software used by businesses, boards like this will be the only option for many customers.
0 0 [Posted by: d33733t  | Date: 04/09/12 01:45:32 PM]
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