Western Digital says it has developed a technique that provides more usable space out of a given hard drive capacity. Known as Advanced Format, it reduces the amount of overhead for each data sector by pooling together information. Instead of requiring a single Sync/DAM header and ECC (error correction) block for each sector, it would create much larger 4KB sectors that use one set of each header.
The format requires a larger ECC block but overall provides significantly more data in a given drive. On average, Western Digital expects a fully formatted drive to get between 7 percent and 11 percent more usable storage than with traditional formatting.
Advanced Format should launch first with an updated version of the low-power Caviar Green line in coming weeks but will expand to most of its lineup. Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows 7 don't need any special steps to recognize the drives, but Windows XP's limited file format support needs special software and sometimes jumper changes to re-align the sectors and use the reclaimed space.