Hard Drive Geometry 101
- From: Al <bigal.nz@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 10:52:53 -0800 (PST)
I am hoping some kind people on this NG could help me better
understand HDD Geometry. Dont get me wrong I have done some googling,
and read some wiki's - but some parts are still very blurry. I have
also used the man command since most of what I am doing is in linux.
Most of my questions have been brought about by various LInux tools I
have been experimenting with, such as testdisk, mount, and fdisk.
I will outline what I understand so far, if any of these statements
are wrong please let me know.
I understand so far:
That hard disks have physical geometry CHS, but modern hard disk CHS
bears no direct relationship to the physical geometry of the disk. I
think the modern CHS is sometimes called Psuedo CHS.
C and H numbering starts at 0, but S starts at 1.
The the definition of a sector (on the physical disk anyway) is a
strip extending from the center of the platter to the edge. And a
block is the intersection of a cylinder and a sector. Sometimes use
the terms block and sector to mean the same thing (block).
Block usually 512 bytes.
With read hard disk geometry C*H*S = number of blocks
Thus number of blocks * 512 = disk size?
Is there a relationship mathmatically, size wise, between a block and
a sector? ie 4 blocks = 1 sector or whatever?
Now to involve some real world data:
al@al-ubuntu:~$ sudo fdisk -l
[sudo] password for al:
Disk /dev/sda: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xaf010487
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 121601 976760001 83 Linux
I know that start and end are cylinder values and I assume that blocks
is the size of the partition in blocks. Assuming I was correct before
when I stated that blocks are 512 bytes in size, then:
976760001 * 512 bytes = disk size in bytes - but it doesnt, it equals
500101120512 bytes which is way off 1000204886016 bytes from the
header in fdisk. Why?
From fdisk headerline "255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders"- now using C*H*S = number of blocks
121601 * 255 * 63 = 1953520065 blocks
and because 512 bytes to a block:
512 * 1953520065 = 1000202273280 bytes (which should be the same as
the disk size given in the fdisk header line "1000204886016 bytes" but
it isnt. Why?)
The same disk:
TestDisk 6.10, Data Recovery Utility, July 2008
Christophe GRENIER <grenier@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Disk /dev/sda - 1000 GB / 931 GiB - CHS 121601 255 63
Current partition structure:
Partition Start End Size in sectors
1 * Linux 0 1 1 121600 254 63 1953520002
Now start and end are full CHS values and we can also see the size of
the partition in sectors. I have been told that:
(255 * 63 * 121601) - (63 * 1) = 1953520002
Which is the size in sectors. But I dont quite understand the
In its simplest form the End CHS size - Start CHS size = size of
Because of numbering starting at 0 start end CHS values in calculation
Start CHS values, by the same reasoning should be:
0,2,2 (Clearly this is not whats used in the calculation - why?)
Well this has been a long post, and I suspect the answer will raise
Thanks in advance for any replies.
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