Western Digital has introduced updated versions of their Caviar Black HDDs that use Advanced Format technology to improve performance. The website Hardware.info has spotted the updates in a datasheet of the hard disk drive manufacturer. The datasheet lists drives with capacities of 1 TB, 2 TB, 3 TB and 4 TB that support the Advanced Format technology. Behind the fancy name is actually no more than an increased sector size, from the regular 512 bytes to 4 Kb.
The new Western Digital Caviar Black drives with Advanced Format can be recognized by models types containing FZEX. Drives with the regular sector size of 512 bytes can be recognized by model types including FAEX. The larger sector size has a positive influence on the performance of the drives. Western Digital specifies data transfer rates that are up 10-20% higher than drives without Advanced Format support. E.g the 4 TB model with Advanced Format has a specified data transfer rate of 171 MB/s, while the same drive without Advanced Format should be able to achieve only 154 MB/s.
The smaller capacity drives benefit even more, the 1 TB drive without advanced format has a specified data transfer of 126 MB/s while the same capacity drive with Advanced Format should be able to achieve 150 MB/s.
Advanced Format is neither a new technology, a sheet, dated 2010 on the Western Digital website already mentions it. Back then Western Digital was one of the first companies to adopt this new disk layout. The increased sector size consumes less space for error correction (ECC) data resulting in more space available for actual user data. In SSDs, on which disk capacity is more important due to their higher cost per GB, this is regular practice.
The rest of the specifications remain the same, they are all 7200 RPM drives with 64 MB cache, with the same access times and power consumption. The performance does come with a premium in price, drives with Advanced Format appear to be $15 to $30 more expensive.