I wrote this very technical article for the January 2006 issue, and I really enjoyed writing it as I learned a lot about Serial ATA (SATA) and consequently, Parallel ATA (PATA), the technology it’s supposed to have replaced. It’s basically a geek’s dream.
The most interesting factoid is the ATA naming schema used by the technical committees in charge of creating standards for hard disks over the years, vis a vis how the manufacturers named them, which is completely different and ultimately made to confuse the market, making it appear their products had improvements where there wasn’t any. Also another revelation: if it wasn’t for SATA II, hard disk technology would be pretty much the same as 5 or 8 years ago, the main difference being only in capacity, but certainly not speed.
Another thing of interest is the fact I learned about Native Command Queuing, which lets a hard disk decide which command to execute first, to keep the head from moving across the platter more often than it has to. It’s actually an adoption of a one of the RAID types (I forget which), designed for speed.
So when I go to a place like Mercury Drug, where the pharmacists take orders from customers who write them on little slips of paper, and then fetch the orders, presumably, with some form of organization in mind (alphabetical, which is closer, or farthest to nearest, whichever), I am reminded of Native Command Queuing.
Of course, the pharmacists are usually harrassed and overworked, and most likely feel they should have taken up nursing, or at least applied to become better paid med reps, reminds me of the government and the state of education too, but let’s not let that blur our momentary geek moment shall we?
Anyway, here are some of the sites I referenced:
And here’s a white paper about Native Command Queuing, SATA’s primary advantage.
I’m glad there’s PCMag, arguably the only local publication that publishes this type of stuff. It’d be great to hear from people who’d like to read more of these, just so we know there’s a market out there. So please, let them know what you think.
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