Intel, Others Advance CE Storage Interface Spec

SAN FRANCISCO — A new storage specification designed for next-generation
handhelds and portable consumer electronics devices is one step closer to
becoming an industry standard.

Just six months after the Consumer Electronics-ATA initiative (CE-ATA)
was launched, a final 1.0 specification was published by the CE-ATA Working Group at
Intel Developer Forum here this week.

CE-ATA is a derivative of the Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA)
storage specification that addresses a slew of handheld devices
that interface with PCs and servers.

The specification differs from Serial ATA in that it focuses on smaller
form factors, such as PDAs, MP3 players and mobile phones. But even for the
enterprise, Grimsrud said the CE-ATA helps encourage highly optimized small
form factor disk drives. For instance, chipmakers will be able to take
advantage of the low pin count, low voltages, and efficient protocols.

The six-month milestone is remarkable, says working group chairman Knut
Grimsrud, because it took coordination of more than 45 member companies.

“Delivery of the CE-ATA protocol specification is even ahead of the
aggressive schedule committed to when we launched the initiative at IDF Fall
2004,” Grimsrud, who is also a senior principal engineer at Intel, said in a
statement. “CE-ATA development is at a feverish pace. The first end products
supporting the new technology could be available by the end of this year.”

The minds behind CE-ATA include folks from Intel, Seagate Technologies,
Hitachi Global Storage, Marvell Semiconductor, and Toshiba America
Information Systems. The list is the same that announced the formal
establishment of the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO).

In January, the CE-ATA got a boost when its Promoter Group joined
with the MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA) to make sure the
technologies complimented each other and that consumers would take a shine
to it.

The CE-ATA Working Group held two demonstrations at the Intel show this
week. One was a prototype Intel handheld media player running video off a
CE-ATA prototype disk drive supplied by Marvell.

The second demo included a prototype PDA platform playing video stored on
a Hitachi Travelstar 1.8-inch hard disk drive, which had been reconfigured
with Marvell’s chipset and firmware software.

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