Intel Removes SATA Express Support from 9-Series Core-Logic

Next-Gen Intel Desktop Platform Will Not Get Support for High-End Storage

by Anton Shilov
11/12/2013 | 11:20 PM

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.