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Serial ATA Adoption Ramping Up

Go to your local computer retailer and you can now buy a serial ATA (SATA) drive. Go online, and you can buy just about everything else: motherboards, cases, RAID controllers, cables, adapters and power supplies.

And even though the SATA ramp up has been somewhat slow, it's starting to feel like the beginning of the end for parallel ATA.

Already, this spring, ATA RAID and subsystem vendor Promise Technology announced its last ever parallel ATA product, the UltraTrak RM15000, a 3U RAID array. It will continue to manufacture existing parallel ATA products, but according to a Promise spokesman, "from here on out, all Promise products will be SATA." Promise has 87% market share of the host-bus ATA RAID controller market, according to Gartner Dataquest.

Startups, meanwhile, are designing new arrays with SATA drives "out of the shoot," says Eric Schou, senior product marketing manager at ATA drive manufacturer Maxtor. Case in point is EqualLogic, which recently announced the availability of its PeerStorage Array 100E, a clustered array platform which made its debut with SATA drives, avoiding parallel ATA.

Component manufacturers are also pushing SATA. Adaptec, for example, will sell its new four-port Serial ATA RAID adapter, the SATA RAID 2410SA, for $390--the same MSRP as the 2400A, the parallel ATA counterpart. "We will not charge a premium for serial ATA," says Carvilla Dossett, Adaptec product marketing manager for RAID.

But Maxtor's Schou says that adoption by PC makers will be what tips the scales in SATA's favor. Schou sees that happening in 2004, although exactly when "is really hard to call." One thing is for sure, though: "We'll be making parallel drives well into 2005," he says.

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