August 29, 2001 5:00 AM PDT

New standard to boost hard-drive speed

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Hard drives will get a speed boost Wednesday from a new standard that will help them keep up with processors.

As previously reported, the Serial ATA Working Group will announce the final version of its ATA specification at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif.

The new standard, Serial ATA, will allow hard drives to keep up with PCs, which speed up with every iteration of processors from the likes of Intel and AMD. This not only will improve performance, but also enable PC makers to use smaller cables inside PCs, reducing heat and allowing for smaller systems to be developed. Serial ATA ultimately will allow data to be transferred at 600MB per second. It will start at about 150MB per second.

The emerging standard is meant to be the successor to the current ATA-100 standard and has some big backers--including Intel, Dell Computer, IBM, Maxtor and Seagate--that will help the transition occur.

Hard-drive maker Seagate will demonstrate a prototype drive using the Serial ATA standard at the Intel conference this week. Seagate announced that it will manufacture drives that use the Serial ATA standard by next year.

The Serial ATA standard will do away with the need for the ribbon cables used with the ATA-100 standard to transfer data between components within a PC. ATA-100 ribbon cable is about two inches wide and can be only 18 inches long. The Serial ATA cables will not be as wide as ribbon cable and can be made up to three feet long, allowing for more elaborate routing, which would aid in creating cooler-running PCs.

 

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