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Whitepaper | May 2008

CE Features of the Second Generation CinemaStar Hard Disk Drives

Manfred Berger Product Planning, Consumer Electronics


The ever increasing appetite for on-demand entertainment drives the rapid adoption of hard disk drives into a growing number of consumer electronic applications. Not only is there a desire to increase the storage capacity of devices such as personal video recorders or set top boxes in order to hold more programs, but higher video resolutions are also pushing data rates and the resulting file sizes continuously upwards.

These trends are also driving the need for improved handling of such high quality video streams, to which HGST is responding with a new set of features implemented in its second genera- tion 3.5-inch and (in some cases) 2.5-inch CinemaStar hard disk drives (HDD).


While the actual read error rate of hard disk drives is far superior to the drop out rate known from analog tape recorders, these correctable read errors can not be entirely ignored. When the use of high capacity HDDs in video applications was first considered, the industry agreed on an elaborate set of so-called stream- ing commands. These new commands such as HGST’s SmoothStream™ implementation were eventually released under the ATA-7 standard. Unfortunately the implementation of command-based video stream management on the host side has proven more complex than many device makers preferred.

First generation CinemaStar drives provided for device-based configurations, allowing the manufacturers to tailor the behavior of those drives according to their needs in terms of allowable command turn-around times and depth of error recovery, as well as the resulting level of media maintenance and health monitor- ing, acoustic levels and power saving modes.

As digital video recorders became more complex in terms of actual functionality and new levels of services, eventually adopting IP-based content delivery mechanisms for stream data and critical data, the need for more dierentiated behavior of storage devices arose.

AV-Zoning for 3.5-inch CinemaStar

Instead of setting a global command turn-around time limit for the whole HDD, AV-Zoning allows indi- vidual limits to be set for predefined ranges of data blocks by specifying the start and the end address of each zone (LBA-range). When the time limit for a particular zone has been reached, the drive must either respond with the requested data, an error or with a best data estimate* for the movie to continue smoothly, depending on other configuration parameters. The HDD will automatically select the defined error recovery procedure for the data range that a particular data command is addressing.

In order to minimize the number of commands to be implemented on the host side, AV-Zoning is based on the existing S.M.A.R.T. Command Transport (SCT) operating code and has been standardized as SCT Zoned Error Recovery Control. Up to eight dierent data zones can be defined on a single HDD, which provides for a number of applications and data types.

  • *

    see ‘Read Continuous’

CE Features of the Second Generation CinemaStar Hard Disk Drives



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