Now that Intel’s X25-E Extreme SSD is boasting sustained sequential read speeds of up to 250MB/sec, the maximum 300MB/sec throughput of SATA II is starting to look dangerously close to saturation-point. However, it looks as though the move to the next-generation 6Gb/sec SATA 3.0 interface is now in full force, as Seagate and AMD are reportedly going to demonstrate a 6Gb/sec SATA setup in New Orleans today.

ExtremeTech reports that the technology will form a part of a new AMD Southbridge chip, and says that it will be mainly targeted at solid state disks before it becomes a standard on mechanical hard drives. Speaking to the site, Seagate’s senior marketing I/O development manager, Marc Noblitt, said that "Flash will take advantage [of the new interface], in applicable markets, sooner than you think.”

He added that "six-gig is a perfect interface. OEMs tell us that they want to have the same SATA interface for flash as for a 1.8in rotating drive, so they can swap in a drive for flash, or vice versa." Noblitt told the site that the new 6Gb/sec SATA interface would feature improved streaming characteristics that aren’t currently found in 3Gb/sec SATA drives with native command queuing. The site also says that executives from the companies say that the new technology will be primarily target at gaming PCs and servers.

Originally announced by the SATA-IO organisation in August last year, the new 6Gb/sec SATA interface promises to maintain backward compatibility with earlier SATA implementations. The SATA-IO group says that “the same cables and connectors used for current SATA implementations can be used to connect SATA 6Gb/sec devices, although SATA-IO recommends utilising quality components to ensure data integrity and robust operation at the fast 6Gb/sec transfer rate."

STMicroelectronics has already demonstrated a physical layer interface for 6Gb/sec SATA drives at IDF last year, and ExtremeTech claims that neither Seagate or AMD will be announcing new products based on the technology yet. In the same way that the 3Gb/sec SATA II interface has a maximum real throughput of 300MB/sec, the 6Gb/sec interface will also feature a similar maximum transfer rate of 600MB/sec. Justifying the need for the new transfer rate, Noblitt told ExtremeTech that “you always want to keep the I/O spec in front of the data rate to ensure you don't run up against it.”

Do we need a 6Gb/sec SATA interface yet? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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