4K sector drives


Article Id: AA-01199 Last updated date: 11-28-2017

UPDATE: Since this document was originally published, the marketplace has evolved such that there are now two types of 4K drives available, "4K native" (4KN) and "4K with 512 Byte emulation" (4Ke512). At this time Drobo products work with 4Ke512 drives, details below:

Using Drobo with 4K native (4KN) drives

with the latest firmware versions, the following products will now support the 4KN drives:

Drobo 5N, 5N2

Drobo 5D, 5Dt, 5D3

Drobo B810n 

The latest firmware and dashboard from these product can be obtained here:  www.drobo.com/docs

Using Drobo with 4Ke512 drives

Yes, you can now use the new 4K sector drives in all Drobo storage devices. Please note the following for all Drobo devices:

  • You must be running at least the firmware version (or later) listed for each product below.
  • For the best experience using these drives, you must update your Drobo firmware BEFORE you insert these new technology drives. Please see below for detailed instructions on how to update your specific Drobo storage device's firmware. If you installed one or more of these drives and used your Drobo storage array before you upgraded the firmware, see the last section of this article.

A brief note about “4k sector” hard drives: Disk drive manufacturers are launching products that use larger physical sectors (4K bytes compared to 512 bytes). Though this technological change will allow the drive manufacturers to increase capacity and performance in the future, it is considered in “transition” for the time being. You can read a more detailed analysis of the technical considerations at: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3691. Another useful link is: blog.fosketts.net/2009/12/23/drobo-xp-beware-4k-advanced-format-drives/.

Note: These drives will be labeled in some fashion on the drive itself and typically on the anti-static bag the drive that contains the drive. If you are purchasing a hard drive for your Drobo device, be sure to check all the labeling before opening. If you are ordering online, it is advisable to contact the seller to verify that the drive you will be purchasing is the new 4K sector drive. You can also check the manufacturer’s website. For example, Western Digital refers to this new technology as “Advanced Format” and will have the letters "EARS" at the end of the model number, such as WD10EARS. For more information about Western Digital's implementation, see: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/WhitePapers/ENG/2579-771430.pdf .

1st or 2nd generation Drobo Customers:

Drobo has released a firmware update, version 1.3.6 that supports the 4K sector drives. It is important that you update the firmware in your Drobo BEFORE you place any of these drives into your Drobo. As of this writing, you will need to manually update the firmware:

  1. Download the most current firmware for your Drobo at:  Downloads and Docs. Make sure it is version 1.3.6 or later.
  2. Download the "Manual Firmware Instructions" at: www.drobo.com/support/documentation.
  3. Note where these files are stored.

If you have not set up your 1st or 2nd generation Drobo yet:

  1. Make sure there are no hard drives in your Drobo and the unit is powered down.
  2. Install Drobo Dashboard (included on the CD that comes with your Drobo; or you can download it at: Downloads and Docs