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STMicroelectronics Defines Standard for Portable Drives

(December 20, 2004)

Announced that it has joined the CE-ATA initiative, a consortium of companies formed in September to define a standard interface for small form-factor disk drives that meets the needs of handheld and consumer electronic products. Among the first companies to sign on to the CE-ATA initiative as a contributing member, ST is committed to playing an active role in developing this much-needed industry standard.

The CE-ATA initiative was announced at the Intel Developer Forum held on September 9, 2004, in San Francisco, and aims to draft a derivative of the popular ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) disk-drive interface specification tailored for portable consumer electronics (CE) products such as portable audio players that incorporate miniature hard disk drives. Miniature disk drives are also being planned for use in next-generation mobile phones and other handheld consumer electronic products.

To achieve its goals, the CE-ATA initiative will pursue an interface that stresses low pin count, low voltage, power efficiency, cost effectiveness, and integration efficiency. For consumers, the outcome will expand the use of miniature disk drives into new areas while making them more efficient across the board. In addition, the standard will let system vendors, like iPod vendor Apple Computer, to more easily qualify multiple hard disk drive vendors. And for silicon chip manufacturers, like ST, and its customers, such a tailored interface standard will help optimize the design of integrated circuits by clearing the way for more efficient interface protocols leading to lower pin- counts and reduced power consumption.

"At STMicroelectronics, we take every opportunity to bring advanced technology within easy reach of the consumer, and our early participation as a contributing member of the CE-ATA initiative is consistent with that aim," said Roberto Fantechi, general manager of ST's Data Storage Division. "In particular, our membership is consistent with ST's commitment to industry standards as a way to accelerate the introduction of intellectual property into the consumer electronics market."

Specifically, the initiative targets miniature hard disk drives presently having 0.8-in. to 1.5-in. platters and storing from 1 to 60 Gbytes of data. These disk drives continue to be more cost-effective storage devices than the solid-state flash memory used in Compact Flash and Secure Digital cards.

The CE-ATA initiative was formed by Intel, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Marvell, Seagate, and Toshiba America Information Systems. The organization expects to roll out a complete specification during the first half of 2005, with the first end products incorporating the specified technology appearing on the market several months after.

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Related Keywords:STMicroelectronics, CE-ATA, Intel Developer Forum, Compact Flash, Secure Digital cards


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