Cirrus Logic has produced a chip which integrates the functions of several hard drive components onto a single device.
This will allow hard drive manufacturers to reduce their production costs because they will only have to use one chip to do the job of as many as five. Other benefits to hard drive manufacturers are reduced assembly time and more compact dimensions for the end product.
The chip is called 3CI (Channel, Controller, microController Integration) and it combines several critical hard drive functions: a Partial Response Maximum Likelihood (PRML) read-channel, an UltraDMA33 disk controller and an ARM 32-bit processor core which manages system and servo control functions.
The current 3CI chip is based on 0.35 micron technology, but a 0.25 micron version is in development and will offer improvements to hard drive performance, raising the potential data transfer rate from 300Mbps to 500Mbps.
The PRML technology used in 3CI's read channel core allows data to be much more tightly packed on the surface of the disk, which in turn enables hard drive manufacturers to increase storage capacities by up to 20%.
The device will be made available in volume during the fourth quarter of 1998.
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