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[FYI] CPRM on hard drives - IBM takes a spin


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CPRM on hard drives - IBM takes a spin  

By: Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco  

Posted: 24/12/2000 at 11:08 GMT  


So how mandatory are these specifications? Dave Anderson of the 
Object Based Storage Device group - he's also Seagate's storage 
architect, but was speaking to us with his OBSD hat on - points out 
that not all of the SCSI command set has been implemented. Even where 
the commands have obvious benefits. It's a good point, but it's also 
worth remembering that the SCSI design philosophy (do more) differs 
from ATA mores (keep it simple) with the consequence that the ATA 
spec is much more closely adhered to by manufacturers. It's a far 
simpler spec, and being a mass market, doesn't tolerate wibbles. 
CPRM's backers point out that it's an optional mechanism, and needs 
to be turned on explicitly: for example a "compliant" CPRM drive may 
yet be programmed to reject calls by compliant applications to write 
secure media to disk.  

The T.13 committee next meets in Irvine in February. It's already 
seen three drafts of CPRM, which may give opponents of the scheme 
hope that it can be delayed further. Equally, we suspect, CPRM's 
backers may hope that the pre-Xmas furore will be forgotten as we 
nurse new century hangovers in just over a week. But CPRM in ATA 
poses short-term problems for several classes of current software and 
IT practices, long-term threats to accepted consumer free use 
practice and to basic computer science principles such as file system 
abstraction, and could particularly divisive for free software in 
particular - as Richard Stallman has pointed out. In short, it has 
the potential to make the Clipper Chip saga look like a pre-show warm-
up, and we wouldn't bet on this story going away anytime soon. As the 
Grinch discovered: "Oh, the noise! That's one thing he hated! The 

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