There's no doubt that Serial ATA storage is hitting a wall when even mainstream PCs like the MacBook Air and VAIO Pro use the PCI Express interface to get around performance bottlenecks. It's a good thing that SATA-IO just ratified the improved SATA 3.2 specification, then. The new standard centers on SATA Express, which lets SATA storage ride on the PCIe bus and more than doubles the available bandwidth to 16Gbps (2GB/s). Version 3.2 also brings support for the M.2 format, giving Ultrabooks and tablets access to SATA Express in a tiny form factor. We're already getting a peek at what the new spec can do when M.2-based PCIe drives offer comparable performance, but SATA 3.2's ratification should bring that kind of speed to many more PCs in the future.
SATA-IO Unveils Revision 3.2 Specification
Latest SATA Specification Includes SATA Express, New Form-Factors, Power Management
Enhancements and Optimizations for Solid State Hybrid Drives
Beaverton, Ore. – August 8, 2013 – Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO), the
industry consortium dedicated to sustaining the quality, integrity and dissemination of Serial
ATA (SATA™) technology, today announced the ratification of its revision 3.2 specification. The
latest specification includes SATA Express, a new specification that enables the coexistence of
SATA and PCIe storage devices, as well as enhancements in power management, new SATA
form-factors, and optimizations for solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs).
"SATA technology continues to evolve to accommodate ever-changing storage industry
requirements," said Mladen Luksic, SATA-IO President. "The updates featured in the revision
3.2 specification, such as SATA Express and enhancements for emerging solid state hybrid
drives, are driven by current market trends. These new features demonstrate SATA-IO's
ongoing commitment to providing low-cost, high-performance storage solutions."
Initially introduced in January 2013, the SATA Express specification enables a client storage
ecosystem that allows SATA and PCIe solutions to coexist. A host implemented to this
specification will connect to and function with either a SATA or PCIe storage device. PCIe
technology enables increased interface speeds of up to 2GB/s (2 lanes of PCIe 3.0), compared
with today's SATA technology at 0.6GB/s (6Gb/s). The increased speed of PCIe provides a
cost-effective solution for optimizing performance of Solid State Drives (SSDs) and emerging
SSHDs. Storage devices not requiring the increased speed of PCIe, such as traditional hard
disk drives (HDDs) and optical drives, will continue to be supported by SATA.
SATA revision 3.2 also incorporates the M.2 form factor, enabling small form-factor M.2 SATA
SSDs suitable for thin devices such as tablets and notebooks. M.2 (formerly known as NGFF and defined by PCI-SIG®) is a small form factor card that supports a variety of applications
including WiFi, WWAN, USB, PCIe and SATA.
Additional key features and enhancements of revision 3.2 include:
* microSSD – standard for embedded solid state drives (SSDs) that enables developers to produce single-chip SATA implementations for embedded storage applications.
* Universal Storage Module (USM) – enables removable and expandable storage for consumer electronic devices. SATA revision 3.2 introduces USM Slim, which reduces module thickness, allowing smaller removable storage solutions.
* DevSleep – the lowest yet level of power management where the drive is almost completely shut down, to meet the requirements of new always on, always connected mobile devices such as Ultrabooks™.
* Transitional Energy Reporting – provides the host with detailed information about the SATA storage device, facilitating better power management.
* Hybrid Information – provides a mechanism in which the host can communicate data caching information to the drive, improving solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) performance.
* Rebuild Assist – speeds the data reconstruction process in RAID configurations.
For more information on revision 3.2 and the complete SATA ecosystem, visit SATA-IO at booth
#806 at the Flash Memory Summit on August 13-15, 2013 in Santa Clara, CA. SATA-IO will
also be presenting "SATA v3.2: SATA Evolves" in the Standards session on August 13 from
4:35 to 5:45 p.m. at the event.
SATA specifications are available for members to download at no cost. Non-members may
purchase the specification for a nominal fee. To access the SATA specifications, visit SATA-IO
Website Downloads. For more information on SATA technologies, visit http://www.sataio.org/technical-overview.