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Serial ATA (SATA) Storage

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Nibble:- Re: SATA / Serial ATA SATA µSSD and SATA Express
by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

SATA is a storage interface specification which started life in August 2000.

See below for the 1st news mention of "Serial ATA" - as it was called in those early days.

In July 2002 - SATA entered the top 3 searches on

SATA is used to directly attach storage devices, such as hard disk drives, DVDs and SSDs , to the motherboard and was the replacement for legacy Parallel ATA physical storage interface.

Serial ATA technology allowed for platform cost reductions and performance improvements while supporting a seamless transition from Parallel ATA technology. SATA began with 1.5 Gbps, and its roadmap is scalable to 2x, 4x (called SATA 3) and beyond.

Nowadays SATA is used almost everywhere in the storage environment from notebooks to servers.

How fast are SATA drives?

In July 2011 - the R/W performance from 2.5" consumer SSDs is approximately 556MB/s and 523MB/s respectively. The figures quoted relate to a SandForce driven model sold by OWC.

The SATA standard - which was originally created to meet the needs of hard drive arrays - is now firmly in the hands of the SSD industry.

The next iterations of this standard - unveiled in September 2011 - are:-
  • SATA Express which - for a 2.5" drive - defines a connector which can support SATA or up to 2 lanes of PCIe - for the same mechanically interchangeable drive slot.
Returning to the SATA Express standard - the reasoning behind this progression of providing PCIe compatibility instead of simply moving up to 12Gbps SATA was discussed in a SATA-IO ORG white paper - Why SATA Express? (pdf) - which says among other things...

"Many of the backplanes and cables that worked fine at 6Gb/s won't reliably carry data at 12Gb/s. And even with the background work already done on 12Gb/s SAS, it would not have been possible to have a 12Gb/s SATA spec out in time. Also PCIe has been shipping for years and is a mature technology. PCIe 3.0 (8Gb/s or 1GB/s) provides the needed bump up in speed with a single lane. By comparison, SATA at 6Gb/s equates to 0.6GB/s. Next generation PCIe 4.0 will double the bandwidth to 16Gb/s (or 2GB/s) per lane, so SATA Express has a growth path."

See also:- 2.5" PCIe SSDs, PCIe SSDs, SATA SSDs, PATA SSDs
14 Years Ago - August 2000 - from Storage History

1st Serial ATA Hard Drive Unveiled at IDF
San Jose , CA - August 22, 2000 - Seagate Technology, APT Technologies, Inc. and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp today unveiled the first Serial ATA disc drive, giving a glimpse into the future of ATA disc drive technology.

The drive is natively attached to an Intel Pentium 4 processor system through an APT Serial ATA PCI Host Bus Adapter, featuring a 1.5 Gbps transfer rate. The prototype demonstration combines technologies from Seagate, APT, Intel Corporation and Vitesse.

It features a Seagate disc drive with its Serial ATA board, using APT's Serial ATA Link and Transport layers logic and Vitesse's 1.5 Gbs CMOS transceiver, attached via Serial ATA to APT's Serial ATA to PCI host bus adapter. Additionally, to demonstrate the applicability of Serial ATA to ATAPI devices, APT also unveiled a Delta Micro 12x DVD ROM running on the same Serial ATA PCI host adapter.

This new technology will allow for platform cost reductions and performance improvements while supporting a seamless transition from Parallel ATA technology. Serial ATA will supply storage interface headroom for many generations to come, beginning with 1.5 Gbps, scalable to 2x, 4x and beyond.

"Seagate is proud to demonstrate at this early stage that Serial ATA technology will soon be ready for implementation, and that the industry's technology leaders are working together to make it happen," said Tom Porter, Seagate executive VP and CTO. "There are many hardware and software engineers who attend the Forum to set their blueprint plans for the coming year and we're happy to provide them the first glimpse into the Serial ATA future."

"Vitesse is pleased to demonstrate Serial ATA Physical Layer solutions with early adopters of this exciting new technology," said Bob Rumer, VP of the SAN Products Group at Vitesse Semiconductor. "By combining expertise from APT Technologies, Intel, Seagate and Vitesse we will be able to provide the industry's first complete Serial ATA IC solutions."

"The development of this prototype is key to illustrating that the industry is on track to deliver Serial ATA. We have also demonstrated widespread O/S compatibility running the setup under Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Red Hat Linux and Solaris 8 with both ATA and ATAPI devices," said Jim Rubino, president and CEO of APT Technologies. "Our ability to demonstrate the viability of Serial ATA technology on both ATA and ATAPI devices is another step toward ensuring a smooth transition from parallel ATA/100 to Serial ATA"

Seagate, APT, Intel and Vitesse are among the members of the Serial ATA Working Group (which in September 2004 became SATA-IO) developing the Serial ATA storage interface specification for the next-generation computing platform.

This interface is used to connect storage devices, such as hard discs, DVDs and CD-R/Ws, to the motherboard and is the replacement for today's Parallel ATA physical storage interface. Serial ATA is compatible with existing ATA software drivers and will run standard operating systems without modification.

...Later:- SATA - as we now call it - became a very successful interface for hard drives. It was the critical inflexion point in the server industry's transition away from parallel interfaces for DAS storage to higher performance serially connected standards.

In some ways PCIe SSDs represent a turning back from that model. But in the pursuit of affordable faster servers - all rules are made to be broken.
Serial ATA - Auntie Wanda - click to enlarge
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2.5" NVMe PCIe SSDs?

see the market tinelime

By 2004 - within a few years of the earliest SATA drives shipping - it was already clear that SATA - an interface created to satisfy a roadmap for consumer PC storage - also had the potential to replace (legacy parallel) SCSI in the enterprise storage market too in applications such as RAID systems.

The reasons and sentiments were clearly argued in this classic article from that period - SATA Raids the Datacenter.
Where does all the money go? - inside SSD pricing
SSDs are among the most expensive (and complex) computer hardware products you will ever buy and understanding the factors which determine SSD costs is often a confusing and irritating process... ...which is not made any easier when market prices for apparently identical capacity SSDs can vary more than 100x to 1!
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go? - click to read the article Why is that? There are good reasons for these cost differences. But more expensive isn't always better for you. To find out what goes into the price - and whether you need it - the article

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