Ultra ATA/66 picks up steam
Positioned as an interim solution between the ATA/33 desktop interface and the next-generation 1394 interface, Ultra ATA/66 recently gained the support of a wide variety of vendors. Ultra ATA/66 was developed by Quantum, and Intel earlier this year announced its support (InfoStor, April).
PC vendors supporting Ultra ATA/66 include Acer, Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, IBM, and NEC. On the drive manufacturer front, all of Quantum`s arch rivals have signed on, including Fujitsu, IBM, Maxtor, Seagate, and Western Digital.
Ultra ATA/66 doubles the burst data rate to 66MBps (by reducing setup times) while enhancing data integrity via an 80-conductor cable and cyclical redundancy check (CRC).
According to Steve Wilkins, program director of strategic and technical marketing at Quantum, initial Ultra ATA/66 disk drives are due early next year. However, production volumes aren`t expected until at least the middle of the year. In addition to disk drives, the new spec requires an 80-conductor cable (which is compatible with existing 40-pin headers), motherboards with special chip sets, and PCI adapter cards that support Ultra ATA/66.
In addition to the vendors mentioned, other Ultra ATA/66 supporters include Acer Labs, Adaptec, AMD, CMD, Cirrus Logic, Cypress, Cyrix, Flexstar, Greystone, Highpoint, LSI Logic, Motorola, Opti Inc., Phoenix, Promise, QLogic, SIS, Via Technologies, and Xyratex. The spec was sent to ANSI last month for approval.
Analysts attribute the delayed acceptance of the 1394 interface to a number of reasons, including technology hurdles, an incomplete spec for the 100MBps version, high costs, and backward compatibility issues.