No doubt in an attempt to partially offset the uptake of Intel’s high-speed Light Peak interconnect by companies such as Apple and Sony, the SATA-IO working group showed off some new specifications today that extend the life of SATA by a measurable amount. With speeds of up to 16Gbps, the new SATA Express, or SATAe (not to be confused with e-SATA) looks to be a worthy competitor – on paper, at least.
The new SATA standards combine the ubiquitous drive connector with the PCI Express interface in order to tap into the substantially higher bandwidths that PCIe 3.0 offers. SATAII, running at 6Gbps was just recently introduced, and already some SSD manufacturers are skipping it for the PCI Express infrastructure to avoid throughput caps. A high-speed SATAe standard could avoid that situation entirely, and let new products maintain compatibility with all of the current tools and software that take advantage of the SATA interface and standards.
In addition to the SATAe news, the group also talked about SATA µSSD, which provides a means for manufacturers to embed an SSD’s flash memory directly onto the motherboard and avoid the issue of connectors entirely. As the press release pointed out, the new µSSD standard is already out on the market today, in the form of SanDisk’s iSSD lineup of super small solid state drives.
The organization expects manufacturers of products such as tablets and smartphones to pick up the standard, which provides for much faster disk access than the process currently used. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, to see clever companies such as Apple take advantage of the standard to save space in products such as the ultrathin MacBook Air.