updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
New technology backwards compatible with SATA-3 drives
Hard drive company Western Digital is showing the first PCI Express hard drives at Taipei's Computex this week. The prototype introduces the new SATA Express interface, a form of PCI Express technology, which is offered on the recently-launched Intel series-9 chipset motherboard platforms. The SATA Express interface will deliver faster speeds, lower power consumption, and increased flexibility for future designs.
In 2011, SATA-IO, the group responsible for charting the future of SATA, announced that it was developing a new specification that would change the core technology behind SATA by melding it with the more advanced PCI Express computer interface. In 2013, the SATA Express specification was announced; one year later, WD and selected partners have released a prototype of what is expected to be the next generation of storage technology.
This union provides a growth path for the technology, while preserving the ability to plug legacy SATA drives into new SATA Express-based computers. SATA Express allows for improved cable connections, by removing the PCI Express Sync line via Separate RefClock with Independent SSC (SRIS) and attendant circuitry, which lowers the overall device cost.
This new SATA Express infrastructure allows customers to work with flash-based SSD, hybrid drives, and magnetic platter hard drives on a single common bus, like its predecessor. WD's demonstration prototype utilizes standard AHCI drivers, and is compatible with all known, currently-supported client operating system releases with no additional drivers required.
Device pricing is not yet known, but is expected to be commensurate with existing industry pricing trends. At this time, only the Intel series-9 motherboards support the new SATA standard, but widespread adoption is expected.