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SSDs to get faster with SATA Express

SSDs to get faster with SATA Express

Future SSDs will get a serious speed boost thanks to SATA Express, boasting 2TB/s peak transfer rates.

Memory market watcher DRAMeXchange has published a list of predictions which will be welcomed by those planning on upgrading to solid-state storage: things are set to cheaper and faster in the none-too-distant future.

According to the group's research, mass production of latest-process NAND flash in the second half of this year holds the promise of seeing unit costs drop below $1. As a result, the cost of producing high-capacity solid-state storage devices will drop drastically.

This ties in nicely with another of the group's predictions: growing numbers of ultra-portable laptops built to Intel's Ultrabook specifications will mean an explosion in demand. According to DRAMeXchange, the 'mainstream' capacity standard will increase from the current 64GB to 128GB, while increasing numbers of manufacturers will make the jump from spinning-disk or hybrid storage systems to SSDs.

That, coupled with the lower price points, is predicted to drive tripled shipments of solid-state drives in 2012 compared to the previous year. More shipments mean more volume; more volume means that margins can be trimmed to drive down the cost of SSDs still further.

DRAMeXchange also explains that the current move to the SATA 6Gb/s interface standard is a temporary stop-gap system while the SATA-IO working group refines its SATA Express standard. Designed to combine the software infrastructure of SATA connectivity with the electrical transfer interface of PCI Express, the SATA Express standard promises peak transfer rates of up to 16Gb/s compared to the 6Gb/s offered by standard SATA. (Note: that's 2GB/s, not the 2TB/s originally claimed by DRAMeXchange.)

This is key to unlocking the true performance of NAND flash, the group claims. As technologies including the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 3.0 and toggle DDR2 enter mass production, the bottleneck for transfer speeds will shift from the NAND flash itself to the controller. Without SATA Express, near-future SSDs are likely to rapidly saturate the SATA bus causing an unavoidable performance barrier.

Sadly, it's likely to be a while before we're upgrading to the new standard. SATA Express has yet to be ratified, while DRAMeXchange predicts that commercial implementations won't appear until 2014 at the absolute earliest.

17 Comments

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B1GBUD 8th March 2012, 13:01 Quote
If Express can do for SATA what it did for PCI then I'm all in, oh and cheaper SSD's cheesecake!
notmeagain 8th March 2012, 13:27 Quote
mmm 2tb/s transfer speeds.

in raid0....

My pr0n will load in 0.00003e-12m/s
dunx 8th March 2012, 13:29 Quote
What "app" needs 2TB/s ? But I'll form an orderly queue...

dunx
Cerberus90 8th March 2012, 13:40 Quote
The only practical use I can think of for those sort of speeds would be large scale backup systems. But then, the SSDs wouldn't be larger enough to store enough data for a backup system that needed speeds like that.

Unless we're going to start getting >10TB drives, it seems a bit pointless.
Bauul 8th March 2012, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dunx
What "app" needs 2TB/s ? But I'll form an orderly queue...

dunx

2TB/s is fast enough to use a harddrive as RAM. Not that SSDs are fast enough for that yet, but it paves the way for a system design that doesn't need RAM any more.
Adnoctum 8th March 2012, 14:42 Quote
No more load screens? How am I going to learn how to play a game without reading the tips during the load screens?
Read the manual? PFFT, what do you think I am, someone with TWO X chromosomes?
[-Stash-] 8th March 2012, 15:09 Quote
<sarcam>NOOOOOOOO!!!! I don't want faster hardware, what a complete and utter waste of time. I don't ever see myself *ever* using anything faster than I have right now. Especially since SSDs are never going to get bigger, or cheaper, because no one needs more space on them or wants to pay less.</sarcam>

Why do people *always* say stuff along the lines of "what's the point of having something faster than I can use today"? Well silly, so you can create NEW use cases if you have hardware more capable than you need today. I mean who look back to 1995 or so and Myst - today we can freely move around in an environment, prettier than that, in real time. But out current hardware is laughably overkill for running Myst today!

Bring on the development I say - keep the competition high and we'll keep getting better and better computing at cheaper and cheaper prices!
azazel1024 8th March 2012, 16:50 Quote
Future proof.

Current RAM speeds are roughly 20-40GB/sec compared to SATA6Gbps, which is roughly .6GB/sec max real transfer rate.

So RAM is still close to 100x faster than the fastest SATA interface. NAND flash and other chip based storage doesn't look like they'll be fast enough to be on par with RAM anytime soon, but at the same time opening it up for years and years of future proofing is not a bad thing. PCI-e electrical interconnect might also reduce latency some, though most is related to the NAND itself, which is still massively slower than DRAM.

However, it doesn't hurt to be able to push a GB/sec or two. Nothing wrong with loading up Windows in 3-5 seconds instead of 20-30 seconds of a fastish SSD now. Speeds up enterprise stuff too. In portable stuff it'd reduce power consumption as well as the processor could drop back to idle faster instead of being at a higher power state processing data as it slowly comes in from mass storage instead of being able to hammer through it as it floods in and then go back to sleep.

A 30s load time for an app wastes a lot more power than running the CPU at a somewhat higher load and being able to pull it from main storage in 4-8s.
ch424 8th March 2012, 19:57 Quote
2TB/sec sounds completely wrong - it'd be 140 PCIe 3.0 lanes... Maybe in 10-15 years, but certainly not any time soon!
N17 dizzi 8th March 2012, 20:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
Future proof.

However, it doesn't hurt to be able to push a GB/sec or two. Nothing wrong with loading up Windows in 3-5 seconds instead of 20-30 seconds of a fastish SSD now.... snip

What do you consider loading windows?

Not including POST, my SSD loads a ready to use win 7 in less than 10 seconds now
iwod 9th March 2012, 04:33 Quote
I think they mean 2 Tbps which is more then 3 times faster then current 6 Gbps.

Most test show we will need many software adjustment to take advantage of these speedy storage.
rogerrabbits 9th March 2012, 04:53 Quote
Progress is good.
ch424 9th March 2012, 09:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iwod
I think they mean 2 Tbps which is more then 3 times faster then current 6 Gbps.

Most test show we will need many software adjustment to take advantage of these speedy storage.

If it's Tb/sec, then 2000/6 = 333 times faster than today's standard
If it's TB/sec, then (2000*8)/6 = 2666 times faster than today

I think there must be a typo in the press release or something. They could mean 2GB/sec, as in 16Gbit, which would be plausible!
Gareth Halfacree 9th March 2012, 14:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch424
I think there must be a typo in the press release or something. They could mean 2GB/sec, as in 16Gbit, which would be plausible!
Yeah, looks like the release was wrong: SATA-IO says 16Gb/s: http://www.sata-io.org/technology/sataexpress.asp

I'll stick a correction in.
steve30x 14th March 2012, 11:01 Quote
I just want a fast and reliable SSD in my rig. I am fed up of listening to the sound of my mechanical HDD inside my computer case. I cant wait until I can buy a 500GB SSD at a resaonable price.
kenco_uk 14th March 2012, 13:44 Quote
16Gb = 2GB bandwidth. So that's nearly 4 x current speeds. Not too shabby.
leexgx 15th March 2012, 23:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
Future proof.

Current RAM speeds are roughly 20-40GB/sec compared to SATA6Gbps, which is roughly .6GB/sec max real transfer rate.

forgot to correct that for you before

Sata 6 is 600MB/s not 6GB/s, around 550MB/s useable

DDR3 is more like 15GB/s ish or 15000 Ish MB/s,
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