IDEMA has finished a new specification for hard drives which will boost the write block size from 512 bytes to 4,096 bytes.
This has some advantages but increases the amount of wasted space:
The advantage of a larger block size is that each operation to read and write has a lower performance overhead, since more data can be saved at each location, cutting down on seek times. It's also thought that the standard could reduce error rates. Of course, the downside is more wasted space - where a chunk of data occupies less than 4096 bytes, the space will be dead. But since drive capacities are now in the astronomical ranges, this is hardly a problem.
The Inq writes this specification will be supported by most hard drives by 2010. Windows Vista will support these drives, but it's not known whether a patch for Windows XP will come out.