Adaptec puts UltraSCSI on CardBus

I/O specialist Adaptec has begun shipping to OEMs a CardBus card that provides mobile users with UltraSCSI capabilities and blasts through the old PC Card 2Mb/sec ceiling.

The CardBus APA-1480 SlimSCSI delivers up to 20Mb/sec data transfer. The Plug and Play device sips just 0.6 watts in standby mode and will be available in retail as of August at about £140 on the street.

Adaptec says the card will be most useful for attaching to bandwidth-hungry peripherals such as 10-speed and faster CD-ROM drives, DVD drives and Iomega Jaz drives. The advantage won't be purely in removing throughput bottlenecks but also in CPU utilisation: PC Card connections could take CPU utilisation over 90 per cent, according to Adaptec numbers, making it impossible to multitask effectively. Bus mastering on CardBus cards solves that problem.

However, there are catches. First of all, the product will only work on Windows 95 until an NT implementation is completed towards year end. Second, it requires CardBus which is still not available on most new notebooks. Third, only units with the OSR2 service release version of Windows 95 will be able to run the card.

Barbara Murphy, marketing manager for Adaptec's portable products group, said that the company's dominant position in SCSI adapters would give it a huge headstart on the competition: "I can guarantee you won't see another one for a long time. We own the silicon and that's a big, big advantage."

Separately, Murphy said her group expects to ship IEEE.1394 'FireWire' CardBus products in 1998.