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One of the most expected feature of next-generation desktop platforms – Serial ATA Express – will not be featured on enthusiast-class platforms due in 2014.

One of the key performance limiters of modern solid-state drives is Serial ATA-600 interface. Previously it was believed that Intel Corp.’s next-generation 9-series chipset would support much faster Serial ATA Express interface, which would help Intel to increase performance of storage solutions in general, creating a selling point for future mainboards as well as sell new SSDs. Unfortunately, this will not happen.

According to Intel documents obtained by VR-Zone web-site, Intel had decided not to validate operation of SATA Express technology with I/O controller of 9-series chipsets in general and Z97 core-logic in particular. As a result, next-gen desktop platforms from Intel will have only one particular advantage over existing products: support for code-named Haswell Refresh and Broadwell-K central processing units that will increase actual performance by some 10% - 20%.

Without faster interface for future solid-state drives, SSD manufacturers will have to focus on maximum sustainable performance, not just maximum sequential read speed of their products. Additionally, without storage interface that supports 8Gb/s or higher speeds, many enthusiasts will consider PCI Express-based SSDs next year.

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.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Intel, Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Broadwell, Broadwell-K, SSD, PCI Express, SATA Express

Discussion

Comments currently: 8
Discussion started: 11/13/13 04:16:15 PM
Latest comment: 11/14/13 04:13:55 PM
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A far superior solution is to "go with the flow" chiefly by syncing the PCIe 3.0 specifications with a "SATA-IV" specification that also implements an 8G clock and the 128b/130b "jumbo frame" already supported by PCIe 3.0. That "sync" will match the raw bandwidth of a single x1 PCIe 3.0 lane and a single SATA-IV data channel. See our Presentation to the Storage Developer Conference last year, for details.
0 0 [Posted by: mrfsys  | Date: 11/13/13 04:16:15 PM]
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2. 
A far superior solution is to "go with the flow" chiefly by syncing the PCIe 3.0 specifications with a "SATA-IV" specification that also implements an 8G clock and the 128b/130b "jumbo frame" already supported by PCIe 3.0. That "sync" will match the raw bandwidth of a single x1 PCIe 3.0 lane and a single SATA-IV data channel. See our Presentation to the Storage Developer Conference last year, for details.
0 0 [Posted by: mrfsys  | Date: 11/13/13 05:43:06 PM]
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3. 
p.s. Sorry for the dupe: I tried to delete the second one, but it re-appeared immediately. MRFS
0 0 [Posted by: mrfsys  | Date: 11/13/13 05:43:55 PM]
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4. 
Why bother with SATA anymore?
My MacBook Air SSD already used PCIe bus. The whole SSD fits in a small 1x3 inch bare-bone card. It is cheaper than regular SSD in the long run.
0 0 [Posted by: Tukee44  | Date: 11/14/13 12:15:15 AM]
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- collapse thread

 
What's the IOPS for that, is there any performance hit?
0 0 [Posted by: caring1  | Date: 11/14/13 12:56:10 AM]
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see above where it says "Existing SATA Cable": from my prior contact with the SATA-IO people, they anticipate supporting existing SATA devices e.g. up to 6G and the 8b/10b "legacy frame".
0 0 [Posted by: mrfsys  | Date: 11/14/13 04:13:55 PM]
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5. 
As a result, next-gen desktop platforms from Intel will have only one particular advantage over existing products: support for code-named Haswell Refresh and Broadwell-K central processing units that will increase actual performance by some 10% - 20%.


I'd be surprised if the numbers were even half those stated by the intel PR machine
0 0 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 11/14/13 01:38:57 AM]
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6. 
As you can see from the images above, SATA Express requires new expansion sockets, and that change will require new motherboards (again). I strongly believe that the PCIe 3.0 bus has plenty of raw bandwidth, which can be served well by x16 PCIe 3.0 expansion slots. The new sockets for SATA Express really belong on high-end add-on RAID controllers. This preserves the worthwhile goal of maintaining modularity -- which has been the hallmark of the PCI concept, and PCs in general, from their inception. The stark reality is that most premium SSDs have now reached MAX HEADROOM and they need a lift in the bandwidth ceiling -- either by increasing the clock rate and/or by upgrading to the 128b/130b "jumbo frame" -- both of which are already supported in the PCIe 3.0 specs. In general, the entire industry should now make a serious commitment to overclocking data storage subsystems, just as we have been overclocking CPUs and RAM for a long time now. There are lots of ways this can be done e.g. physical jumpers, Option ROMs and auto-detection (to name a few). Just my 2 cents.
0 0 [Posted by: mrfsys  | Date: 11/14/13 04:04:19 PM]
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