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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Interfaces and Configuration | Integrated Drive Electronics / AT Attachment (IDE/ATA) Interface | Official IDE/ATA Standards and Feature Sets ]

ATA/ATAPI-6

At the time that I write this in late 2000, the T13 Technical Committee is working on he next version of the ATA standard, ATA/ATAPI-6. It is likely that this standard will be completed in 2001 and published sometime later that year or early in 2002.

Since this standard is still in development, it is impossible to be sure exactly what features and changes it will include. One addition to the standard does seem almost certain: the new Ultra DMA mode 5, which increases transfer throughput to 100 MB/s. Since this is already the standard on currently-shipping drives, I can't imagine it not making the next standard! Beyond that, only the T13 folks know, and at this point, perhaps not even them. :^) Aside from Ultra DMA mode 5, some of the rumored possible new features for the next standard include:

  • LBA Address Size Expansion: Hard disk sizes are now approaching the maximum that can be represented under the traditional 28-bit LBA scheme; this is the 137 GB size barrier. Most people don't know anything about this "size barrier of the future" now, but I predict that in 2001 or 2002 it's going to be a hot topic of conversation. :^) To get around this limitation, an addressing mode will probably be included in ATA/ATAPI-6 that expands the address width from 28 bits to either 48 or 64 (either of which will keep us busy for quite a while...)
  • Hard Disk Noise Reduction ("Acoustic Management"): Some hard disk companies are working on technologies to allow the mechanics of the hard disk to be modified under software control, letting the user choose between higher performance or quieter operation. Commands to cover this feature may make the next standard, as they are mentioned in the current draft.
  • Audio and Video Streaming: Some manufacturers have apparently suggested new commands related to multimedia streaming, but I don't know any more about them than that right now.

I will update this page as more becomes known about the ATA/ATAPI-6; or at least, as I come to know more about it. :^)

Next: Summary of IDE/ATA Standards


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