ICH8 to drop parallel ATA support?
According to "Intel Confidential" presentation slides on display over at HKEPC Hardware, the upcoming ICH8 south bridge will drop support for parallel ATA devices and AC'97 audio. Intel started to phase out both with the ICH7 family, which features High Definition Audio and only a single ATA channel. It may be a little early to drop parallel ATA support completely, though. Serial ATA hard drives may be commonplace, but parallel ATA is still the norm for even the latest optical drives. Perhaps this will be the motivation optical drive manufacturers need to finally transition to Serial ATA.
While Intel will apparently drop ATA and AC'97 from the ICH8, the south bridge's Serial ATA ports and PCI Express lanes have been increased to six each. A fan speed controller and Gigabit Ethernet MAC have also been added to the chip. The integrated GigE controller may support hardware acceleration, as the slides list "IPv4 & IPv6 offloads" as a feature.