Intel Makes Advances on Serial ATA

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Looking to better network more sophisticated devices, Intel last week released a next generation specification designed to boost Serial ATA (SATA) performance.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant released the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) specification v0.95, which it is currently seeking comment for.

The specification allows for a standard interface to system driver/OS software to use advanced SATA features such as command queuing, hot plug, and power management. Intel states the final spec should be released in early 2004.

Intel says the spec could allow production shipment of AHCI Serial ATA discrete host controllers to hit the market by year's end.

"The development of AHCI has strong industry momentum," said Intel technology initiatives manager Thomas Loza. "We believe this is a significant step in enabling the enhanced benefits of the SATA extensions."

The AHCI Contributor Group, also formed Wednesday, is developing the specification. Chaired by Intel, the group is being championed by companies like AMD, Dell, Marvell, Maxtor, Microsoft, Red Hat, Seagate, and StorageGear.

"We believe the industry will benefit from a standard interface for SATA controllers and plan to include a driver for AHCI in the next version of Windows," said Bob Rinne, director of Windows Core Technologies at Microsoft.

The milestone is among the next steps device manufacturers are taking toward a major rollout of 1.5 Gb/s Serial ATA technology, the storage interconnect that replaces older parallel ATA and 1.5 Gb/s products.

Serial ATA II is an enhancement spec of Serial ATA that will be used to connect such internal storage devices as hard disks, DVDs, and CD-R/Ws to the motherboard in desktop and mobile PCs, cost-sensitive servers, and networked storage. Intel says the features are expected to build on the momentum of Serial ATA 1.0 in those hardware peripherals.

The Serial ATA 1.0 spec was released in August 2001, and the final Serial ATA II enhancement spec was announced in October 2002.

This story originally appeared on internetnews.com.

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