SERIAL FAQ Consumer - Mobile and PC's
What is Serial ATA and why is it being developed?
Serial ATA is an evolutionary replacement for the Parallel ATA physical storage interface. Serial ATA is
scalable and will allow future enhancements to the computing platform.
Previous efforts to transition to a serial bus were not successful. Why do you believe that Serial ATA
will be successful?
Serial ATA is a drop-in solution in that it is compatible with today's software, which will run on the new
architecture without modifacation. It will provide for systems which are easier to design, with cables that are
simple to route and install, smaller cable connectors, improve silicon design, and lower voltages which
alleviate current design requirements in Parallel ATA.
Will there still be a parallel ATA bus when Serial ATA comes out?
Serial ATA's adoption by the industry will follow a phased transition path. There will be a point where both
Parallel and Serial ATA capabilities are available.
You stated that PCs implementing Serial ATA will be in the marketplace in 2002. Why does it take so long
The goal of the working group is to ensure the Serial ATA transition happens as smoothly and quickly as
possible. The Serial ATA specification is expected to be complete in the fall of 2000 with adoption to happen
in the following 12 to 18 months.
What are the end user benefit of Serial ATA?
End users will benefit by being able to easily upgrade their storage devices. Configuration of Serial ATA
devices will be much simpler, with many of today's requirements on jumper and settings no longer needed.
What is the cost to implement Serial ATA in a system?
The cost of Serial ATA technology will be on par with today's Parallel ATA technology.
Who are the members of the Serial ATA Working Group? Can new companies join?
The Serial ATA promoters group includes APT Technologies Inc, Dell Computer Corporation, International
Business Machines, Intel Corporation, Maxtor Corporation, Quantum Corporation, and Seagate Technology.
Information on joining the working group is available at www.serialata.org and new members are welcome.
Hard disk data rates don't seem to be pushing the limits of current ATA66 technology. Why is Serial ATA
being planned now?
Serial ATA is an evolutionary replacement for the Parallel ATA physical storage interface and will allow
future enhancements to the computing platform. Specifically, the thinner Serial ATA cable addresses OEM's
concerns regarding airflow around the Parallel ATA cable, and enables design of smaller PC chassis, as well
as silicon vendors concerns regarding 5 volt tolerance support in future designs.
Will Serial ATA be compatible with today's PCs?
Serial ATA electronics and connectors will differ from Parallel ATA, however the technology is software
compatible and OS transparent. It is anticipated that there will be adapters to facilitate forward- and
backward-compatibility of hard disks on PC systems.
What is the impact of Serial ATA on OEMs?
Industry benefits of Serial ATA include systems which are easier to design with cables that are simple to
route and install, smaller cable connectors with improved silicon design, lower voltage which alleviates
current design requirements in Parallel ATA and compatibility with today's software which will run on the
new architecture without modification.
Beyond hard disks, will Serial ATA be used on floppy drives, optical drives, DVDs, and ZIP drives?
Serial ATA supports all ATA and ATAPI devices, including CDs, DVDs, tapes devices, high capacity removeable
devices, zip drives, and CDRW's.
What is the impact of Serial ATA on IEEE1394 (aka Firewire) and on USB2 in terms of PC system function?
Serial ATA is planned to be the primary storage interface inside the PC system, and is not planned as an
external interface to PC storage or peripherals. USB2 and IEEE1394 connections on the PC can be used where
required as peripheral interfaces.
When does Microsoft plan to support Serial ATA in its OS's?
Serial ATA is software compatible with Parallel ATA and requires no changes to Microsoft operating systems,
or any other OS as well.
What are the licensing requirements and costs of Serial ATA to companies that want to use the technology?
When the Serial ATA specification is complete, it will be made available at no charge. The working group
expects to complete the specification later this year.