We all sit around and accept the changes that are brought upon us in life, but do you ever wonder what brings these dramatic changes around? Did it ever cross your mind that there was someone out there who decided that a T-Shirt would be more comfortable to wear than a dress shirt? Or at one point in time the standard paper size was decided to be 8.5" x 11"? Things like this we normally don't pay much attention to, but when it comes to the computer hardware industry it seems like we must otherwise we end up left in the dust by the rapidly changing industry.

Back in 1997, with Intel's release of the i430TX chipset one of the most highly boasted features of the new chipset standard was its support for the Ultra ATA/33 hard drive interface standard. Ultra ATA/33, by definition, allowed for burst transfer rates of up to 33.3MB/s for compliant EIDE devices over the PCI bus. Ultra ATA/33 was, at the time, the latest attempt at a low-cost competitor to the high-end SCSI standard for storage devices. The reason for the move to Ultra ATA/33, which was an effective doubling of the previous burst transfer rate standard for EIDE devices (DMA Mode 2 - PIO Mode 4) was basically because of the internal improvements in EIDE hard drives, making the drives reach a point where they could retrieve data internally faster than they could send it to the host controller. The situation provided a bit of a dilemma, as any case where a performance bottleneck is present would, in this case, the easiest solution came in the form of the Ultra ATA/33 standard which doubled burst transfer rates and bought the industry a couple more years until the performance bar needed to be lifted once again.

For those of you that were in to computer hardware when the TX chipset became popular it's quite difficult to remember exactly when Ultra ATA/33 took off, as it was a highly criticized "feature" due to its relatively small performance improvement over previous standards. Today, if you look at any EIDE hard drive, chances are you won't find anything that isn't Ultra ATA/33 compliant, isn't it funny how changes come to be?

Just as the industry reached that limitation in 1997, the time for the next "big" jump in hard drive interface standards is upon us, let's say hello to Ultra ATA/66.

Understanding the Need

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