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The Cool (Or Is It Hot?) New SATA Spec for SSD

The IT Dog is waggin’ his tail today with this one

The IT Dog is waggin’ his tail today with this one.  I love progress and the SSD revolution is certainly pushing the storage industry forward on many fronts.  New products with SSD in every segment of the IT data chain from the server side SSD to SSD raid storage.  SSD capabilities has so radically changed the performance parameters of data IO that long standing data interface standards need to be updated to take advantage of the true benefits SSDs offer.  Today’s standard for discussion is SATA.

SATA Yesterday and Today
Sounds like the name of great conference somewhere in the mid-west in January that you would like to attend, right?  Well, I just wanted to give a little snapshot of where SATA is before I talk about what is next.  SATA stands for - Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (must have been a fun meeting in Santa Clara when they came up with name).  SATA is a computer bus interface design specification for connecting bus controllers to hard drives.  It has been around since 2002 and has been incrementally changed over the years.  Version 1.0 was specified to run at 1.5 Gb/s.  The current version (from 2009) is 3.0 and it is specified to run at 6.0 Gb/s.  Now you can guess what the problem is.

SSDs Too Fast for SATA
I can hear you saying, “but Dog, 6 Gb/s sounds pretty fast”, and it is.  But, it does not go fast enough.  Current SSDs already approach this speed and the SATA interface is becoming a bottleneck.  Also SATA need to go faster to match the performance PCI-E based SSDs are already running at.  So, not to be left behind, the good folks at SATA International Org. have been working on the new, souped up version of SATA.  And because SATA did not want to let PCI be the only ones with an “Express” specification (PCI Express), the SATA Org guys called theirs – wait for it, – SATA Express!!!  Calm down now.  I know I used three exclamation points but the name really is not that exciting.

SATA-E Is Coming to a Product Near You
So, the SATA Express specification is in the works.  It was announced fall 2011 and was going to be ready by “end of 2011” but as far as I can tell, 2011 is ended and I have not seen any info about the spec being released.  But the release date really is not that important here.  What is important is the new SATA Express is being developed to take advantage of high speed SSD devices by supporting both 8 Gb/s and 16 Gb/s transfer rates.  A new generation of SSDs will be coming soon to take advantage of these higher transfer rates and further expand the performance lead that SSD based hardware and software products have in the marketplace.

Cool or Hot?
So, is the new SATA standard cool or hot?  What would you have called the new SATA standard? (Hint: don’t suggest “Express”)

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More Stories By Peter Velikin

Peter Velikin has 12 years of experience creating new markets and commercializing products in multiple high tech industries. Prior to VeloBit, he was VP Marketing at Zmags, a SaaS-based digital content platform for e-commerce and mobile devices, where he managed all aspects of marketing, product management, and business development. Prior to that, Peter was Director of Product and Market Strategy at PTC, responsible for PTC’s publishing, content management, and services solutions. Prior to PTC, Peter was at EMC Corporation, where he held roles in product management, business development, and engineering program management.

Peter has an MS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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