Capacity barriers in hard disks: problems, solutions and lessons

  • Wasim Ahmad Bhat
Original Research


Magnetic disk drives have been used as standard storage devices in computer systems for a long time now. Since their inception in 1956 to current date, they faced many technological challenges to meet the varied storage demands of diverse systems. During their technological journey, they received many advances to improve their capacity, performance, cost, and so on. Unfortunately, their success story is always told through one single perspective, i.e. advancements to improve capacity, performance, cost, and other such features. The capacity barriers in hard disks, which surfaced after the introduction of ATA drives and Zone-bit recording, and the attempts to overcome them are seldom brought to light. This paper attempts to fill this gap in literature. The paper investigates the reasons behind the capacity barriers faced by hard disk technology between 1994 and 2001, discusses the consequences of these barriers, explains the solutions devised and highlights their flaws, and deduces the knowledge that can be used in future storage technologies to avoid such problems.


Hard disk Capacity barrier BIOS CHS LBA INT 13H 


  1. 1.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2015) Big data promises value: is hardware technology taken onboard? Ind Manag Data Syst 115(9):1577–1595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Grochowski E, Halem RD (2003) Technological impact of magnetic hard disk drives on storage systems. IBM Syst J 42(2):338–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bhat WA (2018a) Long-term preservation of big data: prospects of current storage technologies in digital libraries. Library Hi Tech
  4. 4.
    Bhat WA (2018b) Bridging data-capacity gap in big data storage. Fut Gen Comput Syst.
  5. 5.
    Narayanan D, Thereska E, Donnelly A, Elnikety S, Rowstron A (2009) Migrating server storage to ssds: analysis of tradeoffs. In: Proceedings of the 4th ACM European conference on computer systems, ACM, pp 145–158Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Strunk JD (2012) Hybrid aggregates: combining ssds and hdds in a single storage pool. ACM SIGOPS Oper Syst Rev 46(3):50–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Soundararajan G, Prabhakaran V, Balakrishnan M, Wobber T (2010) Extending ssd lifetimes with disk-based write caches. FAST 10:101–114Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Leventhal AB (2008) Flash storage memory. Commun ACM 51(7):47–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lee SW, Moon B (2007) Design of flash-based DBMS: an in-page logging approach. In: Proceedings of the 2007 ACM SIGMOD international conference on management of data, ACM, pp 55–66Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Limbachiya D, Gupta MK (2015) A natural data storage: a review on sending information from now to then via nature. arXiv:150504890v1
  11. 11.
    Gu M, Li X, Cao Y (2014) Optical storage arrays: a perspective for future big data storage. Light Sci Appl 3(5):e177Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ruan H (2014) Recent advances in holographic data storage. Front Optoelectron 7(4):450–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Land F (2010) The use of history in is research: an opportunity missed? J Inf Technol 25(4):385–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Campbell-Kelly M, Garcia-Swartz DD (2013) The history of the internet: the missing narratives. J Inf Technol 28(1):18–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jakobs K (2013) Why then did the x. 400 e-mail standard fail? Reasons and lessons to be learned. J Inf Technol 28(1):63–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2012) Open source code doesnt always help: case of file system development. Trend Inf Manag 7(2):135–144Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bhat WA (2015) Achieving efficient purging in transparent per-file secure wiping extensions. In: Handbook of research on security considerations in cloud computing, IGI global, pp 345–357Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2012) After-deletion data recovery: myths and solutions. Comput Fraud Secur 4:17–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2012b) restfs: Secure data deletion using reliable and efficient stackable file system. In: Applied machine intelligence and informatics (SAMI), 2012 IEEE 10th international symposium on, IEEE, pp 457–462Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Quadri SMK, Bhat WA (2011) A brief summary of file system forensic techniques. In: Proceedings of 5th national conference, INDIACom, pp 499–502Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2013a) Poster: Dr. watson provides data for post-breach analysis. In: Proceedings of the 2013 ACM SIGSAC conference on computer and communications security, ACM, pp 1445–1448Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2013b) suvfs: a virtual file system in userspace that supports large files. In: Big Data, 2013 IEEE international conference on, IEEE, pp 7–11Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2010) Some notable reliability techniques for disk file systems. Orient J Comput Sci Technol 3(2):269–271Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2011a) Io bound property: a system perspective evaluation and behavior trace of file system. Glob J Comput Sci Technol 11(5):57–70Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2011b) Benchmarking criteria for file system benchmarks. Int J Eng Sci Technol 3(1):666–671Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Quadri SMK, Bhat WA (2011) Choosing between windows and Linux file systems for a novice user. In: Proceedings of 5th national conference, INDIACom, pp 457–462Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Walter C (2005) Kryder’s law. Sci Am 293(2):32–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hoagland AS (2003) History of magnetic disk storage based on perpendicular magnetic recording. Magn IEEE Trans 39(4):1871–1875CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Richter H, Dobin A, Lynch R, Weller D, Brockie R, Heinonen O, Gao K, Xue J, Veerdonk RV, Asselin P et al (2006) Recording potential of bit-patterned media. Appl Phys Lett 88(22):222512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kikitsu A (2009) Prospects for bit patterned media for high-density magnetic recording. J Magn Magn Mater 321(6):526–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Amer A, Holliday J, Long DD, Miller EL, Paris J, Schwarz T (2011) Data management and layout for shingled magnetic recording. Magn IEEE Trans 47(10):3691–3697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ng SW (1998) Advances in disk technology: performance issues. Computer 31(5):75–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2014) Performance augmentation of a fat filesystem by a hybrid storage system. In: Advanced computing, networking and informatics, Volume 2, Springer, pp 489–498Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Blount WC (2003) Why 7200 rpm mobile hard disk drives?. Tech. rep, Hitachi Global Storage TechnologiesGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2014) hFAT: a high performance hybrid FAT32 file system. In: Clary T (ed) Horizons in computer science research, chap 12. Nova Science Publishers, NY, pp 285–299Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Zedlewski J, Sobti S, Garg N, Zheng F, Krishnamurthy A, Wang RY et al (2003) Modeling hard-disk power consumption. FAST 3:217–230Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hylick A, Sohan R, Rice A, Jones B (2008) An analysis of hard drive energy consumption. In: Modeling, analysis and simulation of computers and telecommunication systems, 2008. MASCOTS 2008. IEEE international symposium on, IEEE, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rosenthal DS, Rosenthal DC, Miller EL, Adams IF, Storer MW, Zadok E (2012) The economics of long-term digital storage. Memory of the World in the Digital Age, Vancouver, BCGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Daniel ED, Mee CD, Clark MH (1999) Magnetic recording: the first 100 years. Wiley, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Goda K, Kitsuregawa M (2012) The history of storage systems. Proc IEEE 100(Centennial–Issue):1433–1440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Shiroishi Y, Fukuda K, Tagawa I, Iwasaki H, Takenoiri S, Tanaka H, Mutoh H, Yoshikawa N (2009) Future options for hdd storage. Magn IEEE Trans 45(10):3816–3822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    IBM-Archives (1956) Ibm 350 disk storage unit. Product Release Date–Sep’ 4Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    McCallum JC (2015) Disk drive prices (1955–2015). Available at:
  44. 44.
    Byrne DM (2015) Prices for data storage equipment and the state of it innovation. Tech. rep, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
  46. 46.
    Jiang Z, Hui L, Yiu SM (2008) Improving disk sector integrity using k-dimension hashing. In: IFIP International conference on digital forensics, Springer, pp 87–98Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kryder MH (1989) Data storage in 2000-trends in data storage technologies. IEEE Trans Magn 25(6):4358–4363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Kryder MH (1990) Advances in magneto-optic recording technology. J Magn Magn Mater 83(1–3):1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Wang J, Hu Y (2001) Profs-performance-oriented data reorganization for log-structured file system on multi-zone disks. In: Modeling, analysis and simulation of computer and telecommunication systems, 2001. Proceedings of the 9th international symposium on, IEEE, pp 285–292Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Liu F, Shi X, Tong H, Qian C, Dong Z, Yan X, Barr R, Dey S, Malhotra S, Lal B et al (1999) Demonstration and characterization of 14 gb/in/sup 2/recording systems. IEEE Trans Magn 35(5):2250–2252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2011) A quick review of on-disk layout of some popular disk file systems. Glob J Comput Sci Technol 11(6):1–17Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2010) Review of fat data structure of fat32 file system. Orient J Comput Sci Technol 3(1):161–164Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Bhat WA, Quadri SMK (2011) Efficient handling of large storage: a comparative study of some disk file systems. In: Proceedings of 5th national conference, INDIACom, pp 475–480Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Storage-Foundation (2014) Accessed 22 Jan 2017
  55. 55.
    Brown R, Kyle J (1993) PC interrupts: a programmer’s reference to BIOS, DOS and third-party calls. Addison-Wesley, BostonGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Croucher P (2001) The BIOS companion.
  57. 57.
    IBM (1988) Personal system/2 and personal computer: Bios interface technical reference. International Business Machines Corporation, Tech. repGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Lamers LJ (1994) At attachment interface for disk drives. Tech. rep., Technical Committee T13 AT Attachment. IDE_SPEC.PDF. Accessed 14 Oct 2016
  59. 59.
    Kozierok CM (2005) PC guide.
  60. 60.
    Stevens CE (1995) Bios enhanced disk drive specification. Tech. rep., Phoenix Technologies Ltd. Accessed 14 OCt 2016
  61. 61.
    Finch SG (1996) At attachment interface with extensions (ata-2). Tech. rep., Technical Committee T13 AT Attachment. standard-2/d0948r4c_ATA-ATAPI-2.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2016
  62. 62.
    Minasi M (2002) The complete PC upgrade and maintenance guide (2003 Edition). SybexGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Mueller S (2003) Upgrading and repairing PCs. Que Publishing, CarmelGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Zynel M (2004) Multi-booting solaris and other operating systems. Accessed 22 Dec 2016
  65. 65.
    Sanders D, Riley C, Cremaldi L, Summers D, Petravick D (1999) Working with arrays of inexpensive eide disk drives. arXiv preprint arXiv:hep-ex/9912067
  66. 66.
    Scott M (2010) Upgrading and repairing Pcs, 19/E (Dvd). Pearson Education, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Dahl E (2004) Break the 137gb barrier. PC World 22(9):84Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    McLean PT (2002) At attachment with packet interface—6 (ata/atapi-6). Tech. rep., Technical Committee T13 AT Attachment. ATA-ATAPI-6.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2016
  69. 69.
    Zhou Z, Luan H, Li B, Zhu S (2010) Detection about vulnerabilities and malicious codes for legacy bios. In: Communication systems, networks and applications (ICCSNA), 2010 2nd International conference on, IEEE, vol 1, pp 77–80Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Dillon S (2006) Hide and seek: concealing and recovering hard disk data. Tech. rep., James Madison University. f05749e129fb47ab8abbc9970d5cf15898c4.pdf. Accessed 02 May 2017
  71. 71.
    INSIC (2016) Areal density trends. roadmap/15pdfs/INSIC Areal Density Trend Chart.pdf. Accessed 23 Mar 2017

Copyright information

© Bharati Vidyapeeth's Institute of Computer Applications and Management 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer SciencesUniversity of KashmirSrinagarIndia

Personalised recommendations