Coming soon: External SATA hard drives

External hard drives offer easy and practical storage, but they aren't as speedy as the internal models - yet. Vendors working on a new technical specification say that the first fast, new models of external drives could ship by midyear. Several of those vendors are offering a peek at their plans at the Consumer Electronics Show here this week. Early informal attempts to release an external Serial ATA (SATA) drive based on the internal products and specifications worried hard drive vendors. "These approaches, although physically possible, didn't provide enough shielding for an external connection - and they also had connectors that weren't designed to hold up to a sufficient number of insertions," says Anna Jen, Maxtor senior director of product marketing. Vendors were also concerned that these freelance attempts weren't conforming to an industry standard.

Comax Technology, Maxtor, and Silicon Image have combined their efforts to develop the Serial ATA II Cables and Connectors Volume 2 specification. This specification is designed to allow development of reliable and affordable external SATA products. The SATA II Working Group is expected to ratify the specification by the end of February, and a complement of compliant products will be out by summer, Jen says. A working prototype external SATA solution was demonstrated at the Intel Developers' Forum in September. There, Maxtor provided the hard drive; Silicon Image, the PCI host bus adapter; and Comax the cables. Users whose hopes were buoyed by the promise of USB 2.0 hard drives were disappointed to learn that their new storage devices--although providing big improvements over USB 1.1 products--could not live up to the early 40X speed-improvement hype.

News source: InfoWorld

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