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
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:
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 a 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 manufacture (TM) 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:
If you have not set up your 1st or 2nd generation Drobo yet: