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SATA Spec 3.0 Now Official; 6 Gb/sec. Speeds

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The Serial ATA International Organization has today made official the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 specification.

The Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) today made official the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 specification. The new interface now offers up to six gigabits per second (Gb/sec.) via a high-speed serial data link between storage units, disk drives, optical and tape drives, and more. The new 3.0 spec also offers enhancements to support multimedia applications, enhancements for increased functionality, and is even backwards compatible with earlier SATA implementations 1.5 and 3 Gb/sec.

“As speed becomes critical to today’s storage, the SATA Revision 3.0 specification doubles the maximum transfer speed enabled by technology, paving the way for a new generation of faster SATA products,” said Knut Grimsrud, SATA-IO president and Intel Fellow and director of storage architecture. “SATA-IO members will be able to design for their customers products with the speed they crave, without compromising the quality and performance they’ve come to expect from SATA technology.”

In addition to maintaining low cost and low power consumption via improved power management capabilities, the SATA-IO also provided a few general highlights with today's announcement. A new Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command will be available in 3.0, enabling isochronous data transfers, specifically for audio and video applications that consume large chunks of bandwidth. 3.0 also provide a new connector designed to accommodate 7mm optical disk drives suited for thinner and lighter notebooks. A small, Low Insertion Force (LIF) connector will also be available for more compact 1.8-inch storage devices.

SATA-IO said that network administrators and computer equipment manufacturers will see an immediate benefit after moving from SATA 3 Gb/sec. to SATA 6 Gb/sec., with data transfers now taking half the amount of time; hard drive caching will experience faster transfers of short bursts of data. The SATA 6 Gb/sec. connection also minimizes the throughput bottleneck suffered by today's faster solid state drives; future SSDs will require 6Gb/sec. connectivity. With the reduced latency of SATA 6 Gb/sec., RAID performance will dramatically improve, workstation applications will perform better, and storage area network drives will experience an increase in data streams, boosting storage network density and efficiency.

The SATA-IO also added that the same cables and connectors used for current SATA environments could be used to connect SATA 6 Gb/sec. devices. However, cables already maxed out using the current 3 Gb/sec. operating margins will not perform quite as well using the new SATA 6 Gb/sec. because of an increased number of resends. The SATA-IO basically recommends that end-users utilize "quality components to ensure data integrity and robust operation" at the faster rate. Put simply, buy new cables.

"The SATA interface has developed into the de facto standard HDD interface in computing applications," said John Rydning, research director for hard disk drives at analyst firm IDC. "The new SATA Revision 3.0 specification builds upon the current market success of SATA, and will help to solidify SATA as the predominant storage device interface technology for the foreseeable future."

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