Can a new SATA feature make laptop computers act like smartphones?

Editor’s Note:
This is a guest post by Kent Smith, senior director of marketing for LSI’s Flash Components Division,
overseeing all outbound marketing and performance analysis for the company.

It seems like our smartphones are getting bigger and bigger with each generation. Sometimes I see people holding what appears to be a tablet computer up next to their head. I doubt they know how ridiculous they look to the rest of us, and I wonder what pants today have pockets that big. I certainly do like the convenience of the instant-on capabilities my smartphone gives me, but I still need my portable computer with its big screen and keyboard separate from my phone.

A few years ago, SATA-IO, the standards body, added a new feature to the Serial ATA (SATA) specification designed to further reduce battery consumption in portable computer products. This new feature, DevSleep, enables solid state drives (SSDs) to act more like smartphones, allowing you to go days without plugging in to recharge and then instantly turn them on and see all the latest email, social media updates, news and events.

Why not just switch the system off?

When most PC users think about switching off their system, they dread waiting for the operating system to boot back up. That is one of the key advantages of replacing a standard disk drive with a faster SSD. However, in our instant gratification society, we hate to wait even seconds for web pages to come up, so waiting minutes for your PC to turn on and boot up can feel like an eternity. Therefore, many people choose to leave the system on to save those precious moments… but at the expense of battery life.

Can I get this today?

To further extend battery life, the new DevSleep feature requires a signal change on the SATA connector. This change is currently supported only in new Intel Haswell chipset-based platforms announced this June.

What’s more, the SSD in these systems must support the DevSleep feature and monitor the signal on the SATA connector. Most systems that support DevSleep will likely be very low-power notebook systems and will likely already ship with an SSD installed using a small mSATA, M.2, or similar edge connector. Therefore, the signal change on the SATA interface will not immediately affect the rest of the SSDs designed for desktop systems shipping through retail and online sources.

Note that not all SSDs are created equal and, while many claim support for DevSleep, be sure to look at the fine print to compare the actual power draw when in DevSleep.

At Computex last month, LSI announced support for the DevSleep feature and staged demonstrations showing a 400x reduction in idle power. It should be noted that a 400x reduction in power does not directly translate to a 400x increase in battery life, but any reduction in power will give you more time on the battery, and that will certainly benefit any user who often works without a power cord.

Kent Smith is senior director of marketing for LSI’s Flash Components Division, overseeing all outbound marketing and performance analysis. Prior to LSI, Kent was senior director of corporate marketing at SandForce, acquired by LSI in 2012. His more than 25 years of marketing and management experience in computer storage and high-technology includes senior management positions at companies including Adaptec, Acer, Polycom, Quantum and SiliconStor.

Republished with permission.