Serial ATA - It's Time to Get in Line Page 6


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Summary and Conclusions

Parallel ATA was the primary storage interface for the past 11 years. An association of seven leading PC technology companies has developed a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) storage interface for hard-disk drives (HDDs) and ATA Packet Interface (ATAPI) devices that has replaced the current Parallel ATA interface.

Compared with Parallel ATA, Serial ATA has lower signaling voltages and reduced pin count, is faster and more robust, and has a much smaller cable. Serial ATA is completely software compatible with Parallel ATA. To provide a framework for comparing the two interfaces, this article has reviewed the current Parallel ATA interface technology, described its strengths and weaknesses, and then introduced Parallel ATA's successor: Serial ATA.

Finally, let's briefly look at the projected next steps for the Serial ATA program. It is expected that drives and PC motherboards incorporating Serial ATA will be available in 2003.

Projected Serial ATA Road Map

Serial ATA is planned as the foundation of a new storage interface replacement architecture that is as cost-effective as Parallel ATA and has greater performance improvement potential. Serial ATA releases will generally follow this road map:

  • First-generation Serial ATA: Shipped in 2001. The first release of the interface supports data transfer rates of up to 150 MB/sec.
  • Second-generation Serial ATA: When second generation Serial ATA becomes available, it will support data transfer rates of up to 300 MB/sec.
  • Third-generation Serial ATA: When third generation Serial ATA becomes available, it will support data transfer rates of up to 600 MB/sec.

Serial ATA will allow the performance of internal storage devices to continue to increase unabated for generations to come.

About the Author :John Vacca is an information technology consultant and author. Since 1982, John has authored 36 technical books including The Essential Guide To Storage Area Networks, published by Prentice Hall. John was the computer security official for NASA's space station program (Freedom) and the International Space Station Program, from 1988 until his early retirement from NASA in 1995. John can be reached at jvacca@hti.net.

» See All Articles by Columnist John Vacca

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