According to sources in Taiwan, we may soon see a greater availability and uptake of SATA optical drives, ridding ourselves once and for all of the curse of the fat, grey ribbon cable that is Parallel ATA.
We may finally see a more wide-spread availability of SATA-connected optical drives in the near future.
According to DigiTimes, sources working in the optical disc drive industry in Taiwan are suggesting we may see the aging Parallel ATA (or PATA) interface effectively replaced by the newer Serial ATA (SATA) interface in the last half of 2007.
This is unlikely to benefit data transfer speeds, however, as you can only spin an optical disc so fast before it zestfully explodes.
The reasons for migration are much more superficial -- firstly, seeing as it is SATA, the days of snarling at the fiddly master, slave, or cable select jumpers on the back of a drive will be over and, secondly, it's a much neater cable.
This neatness in turn brings more efficient airflow, so it does have real-world benefits, air ventilation playing an important role in computer systems as we move on to faster and more heated processors (both CPU- and GPU-wise).
The mere fact of having a single, unified interface for the drives of a computer is in itself a compelling enough reason to migrate.
With a wider adoption of SATA optical drives, we would consequently see the PATA interfaces dropped from newer motherboards, along with their respective IO controllers, which in turn would reduce the manufacturing and licensing costs.
One would hope these savings will be passed on to the consumer. Either that, or the spot where PATA interfaces used to hang about will be filled with SATA ports. For some, however, that may seem a slight overkill given that many boards today come standard with four to eight SATA interfaces already.
We'll likely be seeing drives from Samsung, Lite-On, BenQ, and Pioneer this last quarter of 2006, the DigiTimes sources indicate.
You certainly don't have to wait, however. There are already several DVD combo drives from Plextor, ASUS, and Sony, among others, that make use of the SATA interface.
The reason we haven't sooner seen massive SATA availability in this area is because, understandably, there hasn't been a strong enough demand for it. The SATA drives that are currently out just aren't selling all too well.
At its recent press expo, Sony's Product Manager for Optical Drives, who was demoing Sony's new spanking new PATA-only BluRay drive, said Sony had previously dabbled with SATA optical drives but they'd barely sold.
Critics say that's because SATA drives have commanded a whopping price premium. A quick search on StaticICE.com.au shows that the cheapest SATA DVD drive is $93.04, but in PATA, they go for a piffling $45.00.
Apparently that is about to change.
Ribbon cables, begone, and be all ways away.