Linux beats Microsoft to support superfast disks

It's Ultra ATA/100-ready before the press release ink dries

Linux support is now available for the Ultra ATA/100 bus specification, Quantum announced today. Linux is the only OS so far to support the new spec, and three of the five current controller 1chipsets - Intel, CMD and Promise - with AMD and HighPoint in the wings.

As it did with ATA/33 and ATA/66, Intel withheld announcing the new bus standard until it had support for the bus standard in its chipsets. In this case, 815 and 820E, the successor to the notorious Caminogate chipset, will both support Ultra ATA/100.

The faster bus uses the same 80-pin cable introduced with Ultra ATA/66 (its backward compatible with older 40-pin buses); and Quantum officially positions the ATA/100 as a "bridge" to Intel's Serial ATA bus.

Drives are already available from IBM and Maxtor, although IBM's 75Gb DeskstarGXP (which you can find here) is labelled an "Ultra ATA/66+" for political reasons. Er, that's political, spelt Q-u-a-n-t-u-m.

Serial ATA final design throughput hasn't been finalised, but Serial ATA/1x is likely to debut between 450 and 600mbits/s, with Serial ATA/2x a couple of years later. The initial spec is scheduled to be complete by 10 October this year, with devices following in 18 months.

The Serial ATA group doesn't think any revisions of parallel ATA past 100 are necessary, and anyway, thinks that its hit a technological ceiling. We'd like to agree - we can't wait for these big, ugly flappy cables to replaced by something thin and neat - but with Quantum doing pretty nicely from licensing the parallel ATA spec to other vendors, we more than expect another ramp. Or two.

Hardly surprisingly, Quantum doesn't expect it to be widely deployed for another five years, which we reckon leaves time to crank out up to two faster revisions to the venerable parallel bus.

The drivers are courtesy of Linux ATA guru Andre Hedrick, and you can download them here. ®

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