Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

New PC standards

Prepare to be obsolete once again

I'm regretting that upgrade now. It looks like I chose just the wrong time to do it. Over the last few days, Intel, AMD and Maxtor have spoken in public about emerging technologies that could change the heart of the PC as we know it, and the average punter is cursing into his wallet once again. To start with Maxtor have announced the forthcoming ATA/133 next generation hard disk interface. Transferring data at 133Mbps (another third great than ATA/100 which has only recently come into its own), the standard will soon be integrated on motherboards and into new hard drives from Maxtor and licensed partners. The press release claims that "widespread PC adoption is expected in 2002." If you want to stay at the forefront of storage technology, that'll be a few hundred smackers for a new motherboard or adapter card, and some extra for the new hard disk too. Following on breathlessly from that announcement, us consumers took another blow in the wallet, this time from the industry group in charge of the PCI standard. Most cards in the average PC are PCI-based, from modems to network cards to sound cards to anything. The only exceptions generally are video cards. Updating the present PCI standard has been ruled "prohibitively expensive", and so rival bids from AMD (HyperTransport) and Intel (Arapahoe) are being taken into consideration. Although Intel seem to have the upper hand with Arapahoe, which offers "speed, cost and longevity benefits over the current PCI while using the same control commands," meaning that the current PCI software won't need to be re-written to support it, AMD have formed a consortium of bigwigs to try and stave this off. The consortium, made up of AMD, API Networks, Apple, Cisco, NVIDIA, PMC-Sierra, Sun Microsystems and Transmeta, will aim to drive development and manage the HyperTransport technology. So even if it doesn't replace PCI, it will make up a key part of the next generation of computer hardware. Applications in networking equipment, video cards and processor chipsets are already being mooted. Technology is always moving forward, but sometimes we wish there was a bit of warning. People who have picked up PCs in the recent price drops now have the opportunity once again to feel pretty ripped off.