Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has unveiled a three terabyte (3TB) hard drive that can be used even on 32-bit Windows XP systems, breaking the 2.2TB limit imposed by legacy firmware and disk partition specifications.

Available from this week, Hitachi's Deskstar 7K3000 is available in capacities of 3TB, 2TB and 1.5TB, and is the first line-up from the company to deliver this capacity and 7,200 RPM performance in a standard 3.5in format.

The drives also feature a 6Gbit/s Sata interface, offering a boost in performance for systems that support this rather than the older 3Gbit/s version.

Hitachi said it provides a software driver that allows even the largest 3TB Deskstar 7K3000 model to be accessed as a single volume, even with 32-bit systems such as the majority of PCs currently running Windows XP.

However, PCs fitted with the old-fashioned Bios firmware will still not be able to boot from a 3TB volume, meaning that the Deskstar will have to be fitted as an secondary disk to the existing boot volume.

This applies to all 32-bit Windows XP systems, but could also affect PCs with Windows Vista and Windows 7, Hitachi warned.

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