AMD and Seagate discuss the new 6Gbps SATA Standardby Gary Key on March 9, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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AMD and Seagate are teaming up today in New Orleans to demonstrate the next-generation Serial ATA specification. The new specification, SATA 6Gbps, will offer twice the disk-to-host bandwidth of the existing 3Gbps Serial ATA standard. Besides the improvement in bandwidth, SATA 6Gbps offers full backwards compatibility with the earlier 3Gbps and 1.5Gbps standards, including the same cable and connector specifications.
AMD and Seagate have worked extensively on fine-tuning data streaming characteristics and users should expect to see significant improvements in this area over current 3Gbps NCQ implementations with the new drives. In addition, the new power management scheme allows the platform to instantaneously power on and off the 6Gbps SATA interface, unlike the always-on power state in current SATA systems.
Current Serial ATA hard drives on the market have average transfer rates that peak around 120MB/s, but read transfers out of the drive buffer (cache) are already hitting 288MB/s. Current caches are at 32MB with a move to 64MB shortly that will place further pressure on the current standard. In fact, the drive (modified 7200.12 design) that Seagate will demonstrate today has read transfers out of the driver buffer hitting 589MB/s.
However, the big winner initially with the new 6Gbps standard will be flash-based drives. We already have SSD drives like the Intel X25-E hitting sustained read and write rates over 200MB/s with new drive designs coming late this year that will probably saturate the current 3Gbps interface. The first customers that Seagate and AMD plan to address with this new technology are enthusiasts, low-end server markets, and users who stream high definition videos or do intensive graphics multimedia work.
Seagate and AMD were adamant that today’s technology demonstration is not an official product launch. That will come later this year when AMD formally announces their next generation chipset featuring full support for the 6Gbps standard. Both companies told us that 6Gbps SATA products might arrive before the end of 2009 but nothing is officially in the pipeline as of now.