Seagate and the SATA Internation Organization have announced the Universal Storage Module specification for portable storage applications. PC Advisor saw a demonstration of the USM standard at the CES tradeshow here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A SATA-IO spokesperson told PC Advisor that the USM standard will enable developers to incorporate slots into TVs, games consoles, home entertainment set-top boxes, desktop and laptop PCs, and docking stations. Indeed, she sugested that the USM standard was ideal for any consumer electronic device that will accept powered, cable-free storage modules with integrated powered SATA (serial ATA) interfaces for expanding storage capacity. She told us that devices based on the USM specification extend the speed and reliability of volume storage I/O and - crucially - eliminate the need for a separate cable of power supply.

"These capabilities already exist," she said, "but the standard should make it easier for manufacturers to develop products knowing that they will be universally compatible." She added that the integrated SATA interface supports transfer speeds of up to 6 GB/s.

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Serial ATA or SATA is the most regularly used internal storage interconnect for PCs. It connects host systems to peripherals such as hard drives, solid state drives, optical drives, and removable magnetic media devices.

The SATA-IO spokesperson demonstrated a TV set-top box to PC Advisor. Using a USM connector, she could simply attach a hard drive to the set-top box, and play media of several different file types. Although the set-top box manufacturer would have to install software that can play the media, they could be confident that it would connect to other USM devices, she said.

According to Seagate and the SATA-IO, the SATA USM specification is 'the first standard specification to define slots to accept a complete, powered external storage device into consumer electronic devices'.

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