Cylinders versus tracks...

Jules Richardson julesrichardsonuk at
Fri Dec 22 06:59:35 CST 2006

Out of interest, which is the correct terminology when defining a single point 
on a disk's surface - is it better to talk in terms of cylinders, or tracks?

People often seem to talk about floppy drives in terms of tracks, heads and 
sectors (e.g. for an 80 cylinder floppy with two sides they'll still talk in 
terms of tracks 1-80 in conjunction with a side number, even though the media 
has 160 tracks in total)

Talking in terms of cylinders seems to be generally the norm with hard disks 
though, and perhaps seems a bit more sensible - but remember that hard disk 
manufacturers are the people who introduced decimal megabytes into common use :-)

Personally I prefer to talk in terms of 'surface number' rather than 'head 
number', as a given surface could conceivably have more than one head in order 
to improve media latency - but I'm unsure as to whether to use 
cylinder/surface/sector or track/surface/sector. It's all just semantics, but 
for the stuff I'm currently working on I'd rather go with the 'correct' 
version even if that happens not to be the one most commonly used...



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