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Serial ATA Specifications Get Speed Boost

The Serial ATA Working Group announced today two specification development milestones at the Intel Developer Forum here. One centers on doubling the signaling speed for Serial ATA, the other on new cable and connector solutions to support additional applications and usage models.

The specification for the second generation Serial ATA signaling speed – 3Gbps – has been completed and the release candidate of that specification has started its ratification process. The second-generation speed of 3Gbps (300MB/s) is double that of the first-generation Serial ATA speed which is 1.5Gbps (150MB/s).

A selection of Serial ATA products supporting 3Gbps signaling speeds have already been announced. Once the ratification process is complete in about 30 days, those products that comply with the spec can be marketed as 3Gbps Serial ATA products.

Among the features of the enhanced technology is that no new cables and connectors are required to support the higher signaling speeds.

In addition to doubling the speed for the internal PHY originally defined in the SATA 1.0 specification, the new specification also defines a higher-power version of it for longer-haul external datacenter use. The external phy version defined in the specification only impacts box-to-box applications (not used as a direct disk drive connection) and has been defined to match the electrical parameters for the SAS phy.

Also announced at IDF was that Volume 2 of the cables and connectors specification defining new cable and connector variants has been completed and the release candidate of that specification has started its ratification process.

Volume 2 of the cables and connectors specification adds several new cabling options:

  • An internal multi-lane cable and connector assembly for streamlining connections between multiple internal host ports and internal devices or short backplane.
  • An external consumer cable and connector solution that accommodates use of Serial ATA with external storage devices.
  • External multi-lane datacenter cable and connector solution for connecting multiple Serial ATA channels between chassis in a datacenter.

Products based on the new cable and connector ingredients are expected to appear by the end of the year.

In a clear indication of strong industry adoption of Serial ATA, a plugfest last month saw participation from a record 200-plus representatives from 57 companies. During the 2 ½-day event in Colorado, 673 interoperability engagements were executed. The plugfest, sponsored by PMC Sierra, Marvel and Silicon Image, was free of charge to both Serial ATA Working Group members and non-members.

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