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Old 05-10-2015, 11:30 AM   #1
ggieseke
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MFS Reformatter (mfsr)

**WARNING**

1. This software is provided "as is" with absolutely no warranty of any kind.

2. It is copyrighted and may NOT be used commercially.

3. Opening your TiVo will void the manufacturer's warranty.

4. While every effort has been made to prevent data loss, the ultimate responsibility is yours.

OVERVIEW:

This is a Windows program designed to reformat large (4TB - 6TB) Roamio drives. I call it a reformatter because it depends on some variables from the original auto-format process even though it throws most of them out the window. It should run on XPSP3, but I have only tested it on Windows 7 and 8.1 so far.

THE BASICS:

Your Roamio must running 20.4.6 or later. Earlier versions go into an endless boot loop trying to format anything over 3TB.

1. Put the drive in your Roamio and power it on. It will take about four minutes to auto-format the drive. When it gets to the first Guided Setup screen, power it off. The resulting drive will only use a fraction of the total capacity, but we will fix that in the next steps.

2. Download mfsr and unzip it to somewhere on your computer.

3. Connect the drive to your computer. USB 2.0 adapters will work, but are much slower than USB 3.0 or a SATA direct connection.

4. Run mfsr with an account that's a member of the Administrators group or right-click it and choose Run as Administrator. Follow the instructions from there to reformat the drive to use its full capacity.

5. Put the drive back in the TiVo and enjoy.

NOTES:

If you run this program on an existing drive you will lose all of your settings and recordings.

It aligns the MFS file (application) and inode "zones" correctly for Advanced Format (4K) drives. That should improve performance and reduce wear & tear on the drive. This is something that I don't think has ever been addressed before.

It works on 3TB drives as well. It will not run on 2TB or smaller drives. If there's enough interest in creating smaller drives that are fully AF aligned that can be addressed later.

It only works on Roamios. If there is enough interest in a version for Premieres that can also be addressed in a later version.

SPECIAL THANKS GO TO...

jmbach, telemark, nooneuknow, and the original pioneers of MFS like Spike and comer.

FINAL NOTE:

It took over 400 hours of development time, a new WD 6TB Red drive, and a new copy of Visual Studio 2013 Pro to get this far. If you save a few hundred dollars by using this program instead of buying a prepared drive, PLEASE donate to the cause.


Attached Files
File Type: zip mfsr.zip (88.8 KB, 333 views)

Last edited by ggieseke; 05-24-2015 at 06:01 PM. Reason: 3TB drives tested
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:43 AM   #2
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Old 05-10-2015, 12:28 PM   #3
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Wow, this is great addition to the community. I don't have a Roamio yet but will certainly plan on using this and donating when I do get one.

Scott

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Old 05-10-2015, 12:50 PM   #4
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Clarifications known, and request for further clarifications:
Spoiler:
IIRC, even though most running still running XP (even if just on a properly isolated from the internet "TiVo wrangling" machine), are likely to have XP SP3, didn't the pre-release run-up say it should (theoretically) work with XP SP2?

I ask, since some might not have a XP SP3 install DVD, as slipstreaming Service Packs (as most knew how to) ended with XP SP2, and no official XP SP3 install CD was ever released by MS. Even the default compatibility settings in Win 7/8.x default to XP SP2.

That minor detail aside, the part about the TiVo being on software version 20.4.6, or later, means this:

You must have had a stock, or other supported size drive, already installed in the Roamio, and have had completed Guided Setup, all the way through to the point of the System Information screen stating a version of 20.4.6 (or later), BEFORE attempting to complete this upgrade process with a 4-6TB drive, or it will not work.

EDIT/ADD: An easy way to find the current software version on your Roamio, is to press the info button on your remote, on the very first screen of Guided Setup.

@Greg: Please feel free to integrate any of this into your OP#1, if deemed correct, or to publicly flog me for posting a clarification post as my first public comment.

That aside, thank you for all the hard work, and putting up with me throughout the 400+ hours you slaved over a hot computer, cooking up this beautiful program. I sure hope the community appreciates you releasing it completely free of charge, and pays it forward by contributing to your beer fund (since developers run on beer, with the exception of the alternative fuel ones).

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Old 05-10-2015, 01:29 PM   #5
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Wow, Happy Mod'ers Day!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggieseke View Post
.......... SPECIAL THANKS GO TO... jmbach, telemark, nooneuknow, and the original pioneers of MFS like Spike and comer........
Great job guys!

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Old 05-10-2015, 01:30 PM   #6
ggieseke
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nooneuknow View Post
IIRC, even though most running still running XP (even if just on a properly isolated from the internet "TiVo wrangling" machine), are likely to have XP SP3, didn't the pre-release run-up say it should (theoretically) work with XP SP2?

I ask, since most don't have a XP SP3 install DVD, as slipstreaming Service Packs (as most knew how to) ended with XP SP2, and no official XP SP3 install CD was ever released by MS. Even the default compatibility settings in Win 7/8.x default to XP SP2.

That minor detail aside, the part about the TiVo being on software version 20.4.6, or later, means this:

You must have had a stock, or other supported size drive, already installed in the Roamio, and have had completed Guided Setup, all the way through to the point of the System Information screen stating a version of 20.4.6 (or later), BEFORE attempting to complete this upgrade process with a 4-6TB drive, or it will not work.

EDIT/ADD: An easy way to find the current software version on your Roamio, is to press the info button on your remote, on the very first screen of Guided Setup.

@Greg: Please feel free to integrate any of this into your OP#1, if deemed correct, or to publicly flog me for posting a clarification post as my first public comment.

That aside, thank you for all the hard work, and putting up with me throughout the 400+ hours you slaved over a hot computer, cooking up this beautiful program. I sure hope the community appreciates you releasing it completely free of charge, and pays it forward by contributing to your beer fund (since developers run on beer, with the exception of the alternative fuel ones).
XPSP2 should work, but I don't have anything that old to test it with. Slipstreaming SP3 into all of my XP installations is something that I dealt with back in the late '90s.

The 20.4.6 part comes from the minimum version that won't boot-loop on a drive over 3TB. It may work even on earlier versions, but (once again) I have no way to test it.

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Old 05-10-2015, 01:35 PM   #7
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Wow, Happy Mod'ers Day!



Great job guys!
Moms, enjoy!

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Old 05-10-2015, 02:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggieseke View Post
XPSP2 should work, but I don't have anything that old to test it with. Slipstreaming SP3 into all of my XP installations is something that I dealt with back in the late '90s.
Wait a second, XP didn't come out until 2001 and sp3 in 2008!

Scott

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Old 05-10-2015, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggieseke View Post
It aligns the MFS file (application) and inode "zones" correctly for Advanced Format (4K) drives. That should improve performance and reduce wear & tear on the drive. This is something that I don't think has ever been addressed before.
My super-technical version, for true alignment purists, or those who would like to be:

Spoiler:
Aligning the partition boundaries by AF/4K/512e rules alone, was not aligning the data within some partitions. For this data, this meant no benefit from only aligning the boundaries. This gross oversight by TiVo (and possibly any other sources of prepared drives, even if advertised as aligned and/or optimized), meant the drives were still subject to unnecessary Read-Modify-Write operations of whole adjacent physical 4K sectors, when only one operation to one sector should be required. The effect of this can become a chain-reaction, as each unaligned operation overlaps to an adjacent sector.

Due to TiVo partitions being in zones, in a sandwich-like layout, to try and optimally position them for seeking operations, the same excessive operations caused in one zone, also lead to unnecessary seek operations, as the heads move between zones and back again.

The additional alignment and optimization added beyond only boundaries, and to the data within, should (theoretically) increase the lifespan / life expectancy of the AF (Advanced Format) drives that have come to replace the 512-byte native sector drives, which used to be the standard for sector size.

Of course, a drive that comes DOA, suffers "infant mortality", or just has manufacturing defects, is going to fail, no matter what, and all drives eventually fail. But, a drive without defects exceeding mfg quality standards, should (theoretically) hold its operational performance for longer, as well as gain extended longevity.

Modern TiVos, recording 4-6 streams in HD bitrates, work hard drives past what even some enterprise drives are designed to handle in TB/yr (Terabytes per year) workload ratings, which are rapidly becoming the rating standard for modern, high platter data density, hard drives, replacing MTBF & MTTF ratings. The reason why TiVo drives have such extreme workloads (beyond more HD content, and more tuners), is due to there only being one drive to handle all this data, rather than a RAID array, like enterprise class workloads are intended to be distributed across (multiple drives), reducing the workload of each drive in the array.

Now, quit drooling, and get upgrading. If you fail to donate to the cause, I will hunt you down, and bombard you with tech-speak, until you submit your donation (don't forget PayPal takes a cut), or your brain liquefies.

It was an honor, and a pleasure, to work with the other parties (see OP #1) who played such an important role in not just this, but also all those TiVos that are working today, because of DVRBARS, which has been provided and supported for free, but provided at a loss, due to hosting costs and fees. Yet, after over a year of losses, the same author has chosen to provide this to you at no cost, and only hopes to break-even, at best.

While he is too modest to say so, a $2 donation costs more in PayPal fees, than the donation itself. So, please, let's not insult him with more losses.

This might be the last TiVo project I get to be a part of (albeit a very small part), and I sure hope some of those who said 3TB wasn't enough, then 4TB wasn't enough, asking if bigger drives would work, wake up and make some noise!

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Old 05-10-2015, 05:08 PM   #10
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Thanks. If I give it a try I will send a donation. What 4TB, 5TB, or 6TB drives are best to use with this?

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Old 05-10-2015, 05:22 PM   #11
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In my order of preferences: WD A/V Green, WD Red or Green, Seagate A/V.

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Old 05-10-2015, 05:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
Thanks. If I give it a try I will send a donation. What 4TB, 5TB, or 6TB drives are best to use with this?
Testing was done using the WD Red EFRX line.
Almost literally any drive that should/would work in a TiVo, in the 4-6TB range, should work with the software.
Reliability/longevity for these drive capacities, used in a TiVo: It is too early in these sizes, and technology used, to even guess.

My order of preferences list (starting with best WDs @5400RPM, all technically in the "green" class):

WD AV Green EURX - Currently only available up to 4TB - 3yr warranty.
WD Red EFRX (is an AV drive, but has TLER, and is meant for use with a proper RAID controller) - 3yr warranty.
WD Green EZRX (non-AV) - 2yr warranty. If it had 3yr, would be bumped up one line in list.
Seagate AV (5900RPM)
Other brands, as long as they are low-RPM "green" power profile 5400-5900RPM

For more details, click spoiler show button.
Spoiler:
Any drive used should have the lowest possible cold-start/spin-up/peak power requirements.
Be wary of drives not clear on actual peak power requirements.
WD's "Intellipower" is all about requiring the least amount of power, to get spun-up to 5400 RPM.

WD Purple PURX - Nobody involved in the 4-6TB free/community projects recommends these, although they will "work" - 3yr warranty.
These are also AV drives, but have TLER, and only a 60 TB/yr workload rating. Exceeding it can kill the drive, void your warranty, and WD can find out if you have. Use at your own risk. Even a 2-tuner TiVo, buffering/recording HD 24x7 can push TB/yr to the limits.

To the best of my knowledge, this reflects a consensus among everybody involved with "mfsr" (although, posts by others others may vary slightly).

*** In the larger sizes, it is best to come to make your own educated decisions, through profile/spec caparisons, and knowing the limits of each TiVo's power supply/adapter, especially when it comes the the Base/OTA Roamio. An upgrade to a higher rated-capacity power "brick", to replace the Base/OTA's "wall-wart", may be required in some cases. I prefer to advise being proactive, but also to use caution, on this matter.

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Old 05-10-2015, 05:52 PM   #13
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Do you need to do anything to the red drives like is needed with the green drives. Where you change some setting to 5 minutes.

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Old 05-10-2015, 06:11 PM   #14
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Do you need to do anything to the red drives like is needed with the green drives. Where you change some setting to 5 minutes.
- Not in a Roamio. With the OS moved into flash. The boot sequence doesn't have that older TiVo issue.
- If you are OCD, then the Red has (essentially) that same Idle Mode 3, but currently shipping drives on NASware 3.0 have it already set to 5 minutes (but not disabled).
- Really old stock, still on NASware 2.0, has it set to the shortest time, and has a designated Red utility that runs under any OS, even Windows, to update it to be 5 minutes.
- I haven't even messed with the default short time on my Red NW2.0 ones.
- The wdidle3.exe tool reports it will disable the mode, if you want to go that way. I'd have faith in the newer tool, if you got an old stock Red drive.
- IIRC, past a certain size, no Red drives shipped with the older NW 2.0. I just don't recall what size. It was >3TB for sure.

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Old 05-10-2015, 06:26 PM   #15
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What 4TB, 5TB, or 6TB drives are best to use with this?
I'd use AV Green if possible (and it's not after 4TB).

I used a 4TB Red (EFRX) drive for testing because it was the only 4TB drive handy, and a 6TB Red because it could serve as an emergency backup for the 24TB RAID on my latest PC. YMMV and I could be wrong, but I wouldn't touch a Purple drive with a gun to my head.

After reviewing endless drive specs and reviews (and making my own choices), all I can say is stick to low RPM drives. Your Tivo is going to treat it as a 1.5Mbps drive no matter how fast it really is, and anything beyond that is just more noise, heat, and power consumption.


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Old 05-11-2015, 06:54 AM   #16
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It aligns the MFS file (application) and inode "zones" correctly for Advanced Format (4K) drives. That should improve performance and reduce wear & tear on the drive. This is something that I don't think has ever been addressed before.
Greg,

Any chance you could create a program that would do this alignment for a non-Roamio TiVo drive?

Scott

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Old 05-11-2015, 07:18 AM   #17
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Greg,

Any chance you could create a program that would do this alignment for a non-Roamio TiVo drive?

Scott
Any model in particular? Premieres should be fairly easy, but I'm hesitant to go back any further than that.

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Old 05-11-2015, 10:07 AM   #18
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just ordered a 6TB drive...we'll see how this goes lol

*yes i will also be donating

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Old 05-11-2015, 11:42 AM   #19
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One quick question:

I know how to move all of recorded shows from my existing drive via third party software. However, I don't know how to move my One Pass or Wish List selections. Is there a way? Or do I have to re-enter them by hand?

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Old 05-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #20
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Copying & Managing your TiVo Season/One Passes:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BruinGuy View Post
One quick question:

I know how to move all of recorded shows from my existing drive via third party software. However, I don't know how to move my One Pass or Wish List selections. Is there a way? Or do I have to re-enter them by hand?
If you want basic & simple, via web browser:
TiVo's online SPM: Season Pass manager - TiVo
TiVo's instructions: How to use the Season Pass manager

If you want the best swiss army knife to run from your PC, this is it:
Download here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/kmttg/
Introduction here: http://sourceforge.net/p/kmttg/wiki/Home/
Some find the interface a bit unfriendly/overwhelming. But, it's worth learning how to use, lets you save local backups of all your TiVo Passes, on all your TiVos, and restore them to another.

As long as you take them time to read the introduction/instructions, KMTTG is supported in its own thread, right on TCF, if you have an issue.
New program for 1 step TTG downloads, decryption, encoding - kmttg

If this helps you, please bookmark this post, and pass it along, the next time you see somebody asking similar questions.

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Old 05-11-2015, 01:31 PM   #21
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I just posted in the upgrade forum that Best Buy has the WD 6TB Red drive one sale today for $234.

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Old 05-11-2015, 04:21 PM   #22
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I just posted in the upgrade forum that Best Buy has the WD 6TB Red drive one sale today for $234.
I see they also have the 4TB Reds on sale for $169.

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Old 05-11-2015, 05:34 PM   #23
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I just posted in the upgrade forum that Best Buy has the WD 6TB Red drive one sale today for $234.
That's a really good price. I paid $265 each for the five I bought for my new PC back in December, and $275 for the one I bought to test this program.

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Old 05-11-2015, 07:09 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HerronScott View Post
Greg,
Any chance you could create a program that would do this alignment for a non-Roamio TiVo drive?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ggieseke View Post
Any model in particular? Premieres should be fairly easy, but I'm hesitant to go back any further than that.
Would each model Premiere need a separate tool/program or would just one work to truly 4k align the drive for all models?

Would it work after using the JMSF Live CD to copy-expand-supersize.

Would it really make a difference on HDD life expectancy of a 2TB upgrade on a Premiere?

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Old 05-11-2015, 07:27 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Would each model Premiere need a separate tool/program or would just one work to truly 4k align the drive for all models?
Only one tool would be needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoxInPHX View Post
Would it work after using the JMSF Live CD to copy-expand-supersize.
The tool at this time does not allow you to keep your recordings, so if you run it to get your image truly 4k aligned, you will lose everything. I am not sure it will work on JMFS altered images. It has only been tested on native images. Ggieseke would be best to answer that question.

Quote:
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Would it really make a difference on HDD life expectancy of a 2TB upgrade on a Premiere?
The million dollar question. It should based on the theory behind alignment and experiences on computers using 4k aligned drives, but I doubt we will get any TiVo data to confirm or deny the claim.

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Old 05-11-2015, 07:35 PM   #26
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I see they also have the 4TB Reds on sale for $169.
Amazon has it for $160 and Prime shipping.

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Old 05-11-2015, 07:53 PM   #27
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I just realized that adding Premiere support is a lot harder than I first thought. I got in a Roamio mind-set and forgot the limitations of earlier models.

On Roamios I grab a few "unknown" variables from the superheader, then scrap everything from the previous drive, start over from scratch, and build a completely empty MFS file system. It takes it from there and puts all the necessary files in place.

Premieres can't do that. I'd have to copy everything from the the existing drive to temporary storage on the computer, then back to the new layout. Let me think about this for a few days...

On the subject of life expectancy it's hard to say. I think that reducing the number of misaligned reads and writes would help performance and reduce wear on the drive, but I don't have any proof to back that up yet. All I can say is that it sure can't hurt.

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Old 05-12-2015, 02:03 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by CoxInPHX View Post
Would it really make a difference on HDD life expectancy of a 2TB upgrade on a Premiere?
It doesn't look like the day of being able to fully optimize alignment on anything before the Roamio is going to be coming soon, if at all. But, I feel I just can't over-stress the things about AF/4K/512e drives, that the platter drive companies don't want us to know about, or are simply making BS claims about the drives being able to auto-align (Seagate claimed this), pulling the wool over our eyes, and hiding/masking what really goes on inside such drives. Smaller drives can actually suffer more, as data fragmentation sets in sooner, and can reach crippling levels faster, if conditions allow it. I had suggested the ability to use the tool to rewrite a factory 3TB layout (and maybe even smaller, stock sizes), in order to be able to hopefully prove the differences, at some point. Fragmented data within aligned partition boundaries can result in misaligned data within them, if the host (TiVo) does not take preventative and corrective actions. There's really no debate that AF drives have a higher workload internally, which logically means they can be expected to fail faster, even if all structure is aligned, fail even faster when not, and work harder as fragmentation sets in. Every little bit helps. If TiVo retooled their OS's file system to write data to the platter drive in 4096-byte blocks, rather than 512-byte, and boundaries were aligned, along with the writes, then the AF-drives would have a lighter internal workload, stand a better fighting chance at a long life, and RMW operations would be the exception, rather than the norm.

In addition to what I posted earlier, here, in post #9:

Spoiler:
If you were to take a 2TB drive with 512-byte native physical sectors and use it as a baseline, then make a 2TB drive with AF/4K/512e 4096-byte physical sectors, emulating 512-byte sectors, and not add any more extra cache or processing power than only what it takes to pull off the actual emulation, you'd wind up with a drive that performed so bad, you couldn't sell it. You'd probably have to pay people to dispose of them. A few early models almost met this hypothetical situation.

Before AF came along, TiVo bought their drives with the smallest cache that WD offered to sell to OEMs. Through retail channels, you couldn't even get a drive with so little cache as TiVo was using.

With the advent of AF, suddenly TiVo was using 32MB cache drives in place of what they'd have used 2MB for, and 64MB in place of 4MB. WD even stopped selling OEM drives with less cache than the retail counterparts.

For a platter drive that only spins at 5400 RPM, what on earth is all that cache memory even for? It's there, in combination with extra processing power on the drive PCB, to keep the AF drives from taking drive performance backwards to a decade or two ago. It also masks how much more workload is being placed on everything inside the case, except maybe the spindle motor.

As plenty of people on this forum can attest to, even all that added cache, combined with more processing power, can't keep misaligned data from impacting performance.

AF with 512e (emulation), introduced to platter drives, something that was not there before: Read-Modify-Write (RMW) operations, where rather than being able to just write a 512-byte sector, the drive has to first read the whole 4K sector to be written to, then change the emulated sector data, then write the whole 4K sector back to the drive again. Unless the whole 4K sector is to be written in a single operation, it's RMW for every write.

But wait, there's more: If the data being written is not aligned, it overlaps the next physical 4K sector. Now, two whole 4K sectors must both be Read, Modified in memory, then written, just for what would have been a single write operation on a non AF drive, and could have been a single RMW operation on an aligned AF drive, with aligned data, not just the partition boundaries (and assuming the data inside will be aligned, which is not always the case, as was discovered while this program was being created).

And if you call in the next 30 seconds, we'll double the issues: Seeking operations are some of the most wear-and-tear operations on platter drives. RMW-style writes lead to more seek operations as the drive plays catch-up.

Just because the platter drive companies got better at hiding just how much harder the internal moving parts and electronics must work, even managing to mask the noise it would have created with older drives, doesn't change how hard AF makes drives work, compounded when every write isn't perfectly aligned.

Some might have noticed how AAM (Acoustic Management) is no longer adjustable on modern AF drives (or even listed as a function). This doesn't mean it isn't happening. The drive companies just don't want you to be able to hear what an AF drive would sound like, if they didn't add an extra processor, just to mask the excessive seeking going on, sight-unseen. By utilizing a processor just to manage this, there's no longer a performance gain from freeing up the drive processor from these tasks. Gone are the days of choosing fast and loud, quiet and slow, or anywhere in-between.

Until the days of 4K Native support and compatibility come widely, and everything built around 512-byte sectors, or using 512e as a crutch, is obsolete and gone, this plague isn't going anywhere, unless SSDs evolve to the point of outlasting platter drives, and can be used as drop-in replacements for such demanding applications, where the P/E cycles would be so quickly burned through, right now.

If TiVo wanted to, they could have rewrote their code to make sure the actual data being written was aligned. But, they only got as far as partition boundaries with the Roamio.

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Last edited by nooneuknow; 05-12-2015 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:22 AM   #29
aaronwt
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Originally Posted by ThAbtO View Post
Amazon has it for $160 and Prime shipping.
Thanks. If I get one I can get BestBuy to price match Amazon. Since they both charge me tax it would be the same price.

Still not sure I'm going to try this since my 3TB drive is working fine. And I use a 6TB drive in my PC for local storage of .TiVo files.

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Old 05-12-2015, 07:44 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
Still not sure I'm going to try this since my 3TB drive is working fine. And I use a 6TB drive in my PC for local storage of .TiVo files.
After all the time we spent coming up with a name for it, you had better at least try it! It runs on Windows, and YOU get to choose the drive you use.

Just think how cool it will look in your signature line! You know you want it!

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