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Seagate this week announced the release of what it said is a breakthrough Serial ATA storage interface that will ultimately transfer data at 600 Mbytes per second -- six times faster than the current ATA standard -- and allow more complex, flexible and intelligent multi-drive systems.
Seagate and Intel demonstrated what they say is the world's first fully-compliant prototype Serial ATA hard drive with native hot-pluggability, at the Intel Developers Forum, San Jose this week. The Serial ATA specification was also formally released this week by Seagate, APT, Dell, IBM, Intel and Maxtor as the successor to the Ultra ATA/100 interface.
Seagate also announced plans to provide the first Serial ATA hard drives to the market next year. According to Seagate, it has readied its current Barracuda ATA products to ship with the Serial ATA interface as soon as leading chip providers release Serial ATA discrete host controllers on add-in cards and motherboards. Together, these products should enable the PC and Consumer Electronics (CE) industries to begin a transition to Serial ATA products by next year. Serial ATA is 100-percent backward compatible with legacy Ultra ATA/100 software and drivers.
By its third generation, Serial ATA is planned to enable data rates of 600 Mbytes per second at an affordable ATA cost. Because it's hot-pluggable, Serial ATA simplifies new-generation ATA devices like removable in-dash car computers and music players.
"Intel has worked closely with Seagate to demonstrate Serial ATA and the vast performance benefits it brings to PCs. We plan to offer our first Serial ATA solutions next year along with Seagate and other leading vendors," said Jason Ziller, Intel technology initiatives manager and Serial ATA Working Group chairman. "With Serial ATA's inherent benefits over Parallel ATA, Intel plans to focus on it as the ATA storage solution succeeding ATA/100."
"All manufacturers of Parallel ATA peripherals should be prepared to make a complete transition to Serial ATA technologies no later than the fourth quarter of 2003," said John Monroe, chief analyst at Gartner Dataquest. "Many inherent features of the current ATA architecture make it difficult to scale and will soon render it obsolete. Serial ATA will not only become the standard drive interface for all desktops and notebook PCs, but will also enable a more effective use of high-performance desktop-class drives in multiuser applications."
"With Serial ATA's incredible speed advances, we can scale hard drive performance up far into the future," said Marc Noblitt, Seagate manager of Interface Planning. "It's easier to install and configure, because it's plug and play, has no jumpers, and allows point to point connection. Simple, thin cables and small connectors provide more space in any device box to improve system cooling, and enable greater design freedom for new form factor systems. It also provides the opportunity for power-on-cable, which can be especially valuable as we look at smaller form factor disc drives. From an operating system and developer's point of view, Serial ATA is a drop-in replacement for Parallel ATA -- it offers 100-percent software compatibility and an easy transition for the PC industry."