With the fastest SSD drives today saturating the bandwidth available on SATA II, a maximum transfer speed of 6 Gb/s will soon become a reality with SATA 3. SATA 3 was recently made official by the Serial ATA International Organization

The new SATA 3.0 is backwards compatible with all the previous standards, but also includes features such as a new Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command for isochronous data transfers, NCQ Management that optimizes performance by enabling host processing and management of outstanding NCQ commands, improved power management capabilities, a small Low Insertion Force (LIF) connector for 1.8-inch drives, a connector for 7mm optical disk drives for thin and light notebooks, and alignment with the INCITS ATA8-ACS standard.

OCZ's throttle drive no longer requires external power

OCZ's throttle drive no longer requires external power.

While eSATA has transfer speeds triple that of USB 2.0 and FireWire 400, the lack of power has been a major drawback. Another standard coming out of the Serial ATA International Organization is the new Power Over eSATA cable specification which enables both data and power to be transferred through a single cable. MSI recently showed off its new upcoming list of eight notebooks and one motherboard(the AM3 MSI 780FX-GD70) sporting Power Over eSATA.

Moving on to consumer electronics, the HDMI Licensing Group recently unveiled HDMI 1.4, featuring many new enhancements that should make life easier for those of us with Internet-connected living rooms. The new HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) feature will allow up to 100Mbps data transfers between HDMI 1.4 compatible devices. This should allow Internet-connected HDTVs using HEC-enabled HDMI ports to provide Internet connection sharing with other HEC-enabled devices such as game consoles.

Another new feature is Automatic Content Enhancement (ACE), which provides increased resolution support of up to 4,096 x 2,160 “Quad-HD” resolution at up to 30Hz, and content recognition that should automatically optimize the TV’s picture settings based on the content being displayed.

HDMI mini and micro connectors are also confirmed in the new 1.4 specification, which will allow 1080p video support for a variety of portable electronic devices. The HDMI Licensing Group did not say why someone would want HD resolutions on a mobile screen.


The new Micro HDMI connector is not compatible with micro USB.

The HDMI group is also working on an Automotive Connection System (ACS) that will bring a heavy-duty version of HDMI technology to the automotive industry. It will be an interlocking connector that is specifically designed to tolerate excessive heat, vibrations, and other environmental hazards typical of an automotive environment.

USB 3.0 is also coming along nicely with NEC Electronics introducing the first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 host controller. The µPD720200 is based on the new SuperSpeed USB standard, and offers transfer speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second, about 10 times faster than USB 2.0. NEC expects to start volume production in June.