Review: Ultra-ATA/133

If you are supposing Ultra-ATA/100 is directly followed by Serial-ATA, you are wrong: Maxtor presses ahead with Ultra-ATA/133 and speeds up the IDE interface to 133 MBytes/s. But does the new interface really show a better performance?

Even the fastest IDE hard disk only just reaches a sequential data transfer rate up to a maximum of 45 MBytes/s. Considering this actually an Ultra-ATA/66 interface should be sufficient to provide full performance for the current drives.

Why then a new interface at all? The initiator of Ultra-ATA/133, Maxtor presupposes an increase in performance of 40 percent yearly for hard disks while according to our Hard Disks Tests 20 percent are much more realistic. Due to the command overhead and the status informations the full bandwidth of the interface can not be used, anyway. Refering to our measurements the Ultra-ATA/100 interface permits maximum burst rates of 85 MBytes/s at best. Maxtor even maintains only 62 percent of the theoretical interface speed, that is 62 MBytes/s, can be fully used. Future Ultra-ATA hard disks with sequential data transfer rates of 62 MBytes/s or more are meant to be braked at this point already.

With Ultra-ATA/133 Maxtor wants to counteract this right now. Whether the new interface will find a similar spreading as its predecessors still remains uncertain. Especially as the expected follow-up model of the parallel IDE hard disk interface is ready for the off by now: Serial-ATA.

We held a little poll to learn about the manufacturers' opinions on Ultra-ATA/133. Will Ultra-ATA/133 remain a solo effort by Maxtor? And in addition we tested whether the users will benefit right away from Ultra-ATA/133 and we asked where the problems may be found.