Quantum is the first major storage vendor to release disk drives with the new Ultra ATA interface, which doubles data transfer rates. The Fireball ST series was one of a trio of new drives from the company, which also continued its support for the 5.25-inch format by launching the Bigfoot CY, and unveiled a low cost Pioneer SG device for home users.
The Fireball ST is aimed at commercial power users and will soon offer a six gigabytes model. The Ultra ATA interface doubles the burst transfer rate of the current Fast ATA interface, increasing speeds from 16.7Mb per second to 33Mbps. It is designed to work with multitasking operating systems such as NT, with large file sizes and with the high bandwidth of the PCI bus, all of which threaten to create bottlenecks at the disk level on high specification Pcs. Ultra ATA devices are backwardly compatible with computers supporting older versions of ATA, but these can be upgraded with an Ultra PCI adapter. Ultra ATA also includes a cyclical redundancy check feature that verifies integrity of data transfer.
Quantum?s main competitors - IBM, Seagate, Maxtor and Western Digital - are all likely to release Ultra ATA drives in the first half of next year, and IBM may get one out before the end of this year. Intel has also endorsed the technology.
The Fireball ST also implements magneto-resistive (MR) head technology, which improves drive capacity, ahead of much of the industry, as does the Bigfoot CY. The Bigfoot is the latest in Quantum?s range of 5.25-inch products, first announced in February. ?We were scorned for doing 5.25-inch, but we have shipped two million drives since February to partners such as Compaq, Acer, Vobis and Apricot,? claimed vice president of marketing Dean Fortino. ?We are now capitalising on that with additional products up to six gigabytes.?
Fortino expects competitors to come out with 5.25-inch products next year, but not until the second quarter. Quantum is currently the only supplier of this size, which it claims enables users to reach high capacity with fewer disks and heads, because total recording area per disk is 90 per cent higher than for 3.5-inch drives. This has helped reduce the cost per megabyte on Bigfoot to six cents, compared to an average of $1 for the company?s drives a year ago, before it ventured back into 5.25-inch models. Fortino added that Quantum will release higher capacity 5.25-inch models, and expects to support the format for at least two years.
The final new product is the Pioneer SG, a 3.5-inch drive for the budget user. ?The focus is on entry level PC boxes. It isn?t leading performance or capacity but it?s aiming for affordability and practicality, for instance for word processing users,? Fortino said.
The Pioneer SG has a Fast ATA interface and does not use MR head technology. It offers capacity of one gigabyte per disk and has an internal data rate of 100Mbps.
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