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Speedy 8Gbit, 16Gbit SATA Express systems coming this year

Review process begins for new SATA-IO specs

The Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) Thursday announced that the ratification process has started for SATA Express, which standardizes PCI Express (PCIe) as an interface for client storage.

The specification is now under review by SATA-IO members. It's expected to be available for review by the general public later this year.

The specification will define new device and motherboard connectors that support both new SATA Express and current SATA devices.

The SATA Express starndard utilizes a new connector defined by SATA-IO to enable a device with a PCIe interface to be in a hard disk drive form-factor. "So while such a PCIe device operates with PCIe protocol and signaling, the host would need a SATA Express host connector to connect to the PCIe device," said Paul Wassenberg, SATA-IO Marketing Workgroup Chair.

Additionally, the SATA-IO specs define a SATA Express host as able to support either PCIe or SATA devices (drives), Wassenberg added.

SATA Express enables a client storage ecosystem that can include both SATA and PCIe protocols.

PCIe technology enables interface speeds of up to 1GB/s per client lane, versus today's SATA technology speeds of up to 0.6GB/s.

The SATA Express specification will enable development of new devices that can utilize the PCIe interface and maintain compatibility with existing SATA applications. The technology, SATA-IO claims, will provide a cost-effective means to increase device interface speeds to 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s.

The new spec will be particularly useful in opening up bandwidth for new solid-state and hybrid drives, which are already pushing up against the limits of current SATA interfaces with I/O, SATA-IO said.

"This industry-wide effort has made a new level of performance available to client applications and enables connectivity to SATA Express enterprise hosts via the SFF-8639 multifunction connector," said SATA-IO president Mladen Luksic, in a statement.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about data storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.

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