Gigabyte "Unlocks" 3TB+ Hard Drives on 32-Bit Systems

Gigabyte Unveils "3TB+ Unlock" Utility

by Anton Shilov
03/28/2011 | 11:04 PM

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.