IDF: Next generation Serial ATA kicks off

With the new high-speed hard disk interface, Serial ATA version 1, still some way off, work is already starting on version 2

Barely six months after the first version of the storage interface Serial ATA was announced -- and before product is available -- the working group has announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco that work is starting on version 2.

Fully compatible with version 1, the updated specification is aimed at servers and network storage. This includes more -- as yet unspecified -- features, and a faster transfer speed. The feature upgrade is planned to be finalised in the second half of the year, with products available in 2003: the speed increase will be defined by the end of 2003 with product availability for the year after that.

Serial ATA builds on the existing parallel hard disk interface standard also known as IDE. It replaces multiple parallel connections with a much thinner cable, and includes hot swapping. Many companies from the working group are announcing or demonstrating technology and future products at IDF, including Adaptec with an interface adaptor chip, and Maxtor and Seagate with hard disks.

Serial ATA promises speeds of 1.5 gigabits per second, nearly twice the 800 megabits per second supplied by the current version, ATA 100.

But with Serial ATA still some way off, some companies are turning to other options. Chip maker Via Technologies, for instance, last week launched its KT333 chipset with ATA-133 support, an alternative technology which keeps the parallel architecture of current ATA/IDE standards, but simply speeds the interface up. Of the hard disk makers, only Maxtor is understood to be supporting ATA-133, but more may follow.


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