SATA Express 101: Higher computer speeds are coming

By Julio Franco ยท 19 replies
Feb 13, 2014
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  1. We were recently asked if the SF3700, LSI's latest flash controller, supports SATA Express and fired away with a bunch of other questions about the standard. The depth of this customer's curiosity suggested a broader need for education on the...

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  2. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    I'm moving Terabytes of data right now as I type this... I could REALLY use drives that can go 1800 MB/s.
    NTAPRO likes this.
  3. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 683   +253

    I hate to be a negative Nancy but I don't see the real point of this. It sounds like it's just something created to last for a short while. It just looks really confusing. I have to say 'thanks, but no thanks'.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    I agree, it is too small a window of extra performance, to expect manufacturers to jump into this one, I don't see the point either. It's like being excited about the coming of USB 3.1 that at best will only double the performance.

    This interface is supposed to provide an incentive for those who design PCI-Express cards to switch over, but it doesn't at all, the speeds are too low by comparison.

    The already available Thunderbolt 2 is a better interface, with theoretical throughput of 2.5GByte per second.
  5. p3ngwin

    p3ngwin TS Enthusiast Posts: 27   +9

    it's intentional that it's "short-term", because it's a way of evolving two previously incompatible standards towards compatibility, and then towards the further goal of making a unified protocol for systems, mainly focussing on PCIe.

    if you can remember back when PC's had dozens of protocols, from "printer ports" to "game ports", and "keyboard/mouse" PS2 was ridiculous.

    USB was a monumental paradigm shift, and we're continuing the trend towards a unified protocol for everything.

    It's happening in the processors, from dedicated CPU's and GPU's towards "Fusion" style So'C, and it's happening in languages, from OpenCL, and other Heterogeneous initiatives.

    This is simply one step in consolidating previously many connectors and protocols, into a more unified standard that simplifies things further.
  6. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    You may be right, but it is an important stepping stone between SATA and more expensive options such as PCIe SSDs.
  7. Great news. This will speed up data transfer more which will benefit overall computing.
  8. theBest11778

    theBest11778 TS Addict Posts: 296   +125

    You're actually upset about doubling performance? Imagine if Intel's next chips doubled performance across the board without increasing TDP. That would be insane. It's logical that everything needs to move to PCI-E, but we all have SATA drives, and bet you don't want to have to rebuy 2x 2TB or 4TB HDDs, AND replace your SSDs (or whatever configuration you're running.) I know I don't. Storage drives don't come close to pushing SATA II let alone SATA III. No point in rendering current tech obsolete without a replacement. The day is coming where 1-2TB SSDs will be "affordable" Sub $300 range, but that's not for a few years (node changes.) Considering I converted all my media to a server I need 8TB minimum for that, and 4K/UHD will jump that towards 16-32TB of storage. Mechanical HDDs aren't going anywhere so this is a great compromise.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  9. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    That's not an appropriate comparison. Increase in CPU performance doesn't require anyone to change anything or to buy new equipment, whereas the change in storage protocol is a huge implication of changes for the hardware to support. And such change need to be justified, and by today's perception that means a good future provision, which this new interface doesn't offer.
  10. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    The whole idea behind this is NOT to have to change anything, did you read?
    You'd be able to use existing SATA drives on the new tech once it comes out.
  11. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    I read it alright, the SSD manufacturers will have to make the changes to be able to take advantage of the new interface, or it's all for naught.
  12. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    You're completely missing the point, this is a interim solution that allows drive manufactures direct access to PCI-E bus (which thunderbolt also works from so no way in hell is it going to be better than direct access to the same bus) and still allow older sata drives to work.

    Instead of doing a major break like the changeover from IDE to SATA this gives people backward compatibility!
  13. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 683   +253

    I don't like it. It will confuse people more than anything. Why worry about backwards compatibility? They don't most of the time. Intel makes you buy a new motherboard every year or so. Constantly upgrading hardware all the time is expected in the world of technology. Why so much emphasis on a short-term implementation that will simply confuse most people for the sake of keeping an old SATA hard drive.

    Unless I am way off base on what this actually is. Would it be correct to say that it is nothing more than an DVI-HDMI adapter of sorts? If that's the case then I guess it would be acceptable. But, only if, that's the case.
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,714   +3,695

    I'm with TBFC, this all seems as if it is a desperate attempt for faster speeds and a shortcut till the next best thing. This will likely only cater to the high-end/commercial user.
  15. I wish this was the case a few years ago for laptops. Last year I bought my current laptop to replace my old, heavily-used netbook. It used a PCIe card as its hard drive and came with a small amount of storage, so I paid $250 and change for a larger one (in 2010 dollars for 64GB). Today, that very same drive costs $120 because it's PCIe. The price went down, but still, compared to mSATA, it's too much (right now I could get the same size in mSATA for $70).

    My current laptop is a ThinkPad. One of the deciding factors for my purchase was that it came with an mSATA slot. I figured "that's great, I can just take the card out of the old computer and put it into the new one and not have to set anything up (other than a few drivers, maybe)". You already know what happened next. I found out the hard way that it wasn't compatible, despite the perfect fit into the slot. So now I just use the PCIe card as an external backup. It's mostly sufficient because I don't have very many files.
  16. So as I am understanding it, they are trying to move storage drives to a cable system that is directly connected to the PCIe bus? This sounds awesome! I can imagine now that video cards could be connected directly to the PCIe bus via a cable! That means that we could get a much needed shift from the ATX form factor that is so restricting in space and positions. This could finally take Personal computers and servers out of the stone age of computers, finally doing away with the age old ATX form factor! I am very interested in seeing how this turns out!
  17. SATA would be 550MB/s, not Mb/s
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  18. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    The point is of course to move (or remove) a bottleneck. It has been a VERY long time since disk bus interfaces were a big bottleneck. With SSDs, the SATA3 interface has been saturated for 3-4 years. Pretty poor.

    We could be running SSDs that are 2-3+GB/s rather than 600MB/s if the interface wasn't holding us back.

    Then you ask "What would I do with that speed?" Well without having the speed, you'll never know. People are change averse. Google is rolling out 10gbit fibre because they have next gen services that need that sort of speed. Not CURRENT services. You can't rollout these new services if the infrastructure isn't there to make it so there are enough customers to make it economically viable. You have to build the capability/capacity first *and* have a lot of people start using it.

    So in short, unless you are a visionary with great accuracy, who knows what *you* will find useful with the extra bandwidth.

    I know I use large databases and run large programs. Load times make a significant difference to my day. Restoring a database backup and updating it can take me 10 minutes to an hour. The machine is practically unusable during this time... very light tasks possible. If you halve or quarter that, the productivity boost is enormous...

    To prove how much of a difference this will make to yours, you could run a ramdrive and see how much of a bottleneck your disk/current SSD is.
  19. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 683   +253

    Please forgive me if I ever gave the impression that I was against improvements in technology. The words 'faster' and 'cheaper' always give me multiple orgasms. I simply think the technology we are talking about is confusing. JEDEC have just released the final specs for DDR4. To that I say 'hell yeah'!! Easy to understand, 4th generation DDR memory that is faster than the previous generation. If this Sata Express is the future than so be it. I just don't quite understand it. I hope it's not just a temporary stop gap. I guess if you wanted to be a wise guy you could say DDR4 is just a stop gap until we get to DDR5 but that's going a little too far in my opinion.
  20. This is basically a way to lug sata drives into a pcie connector.. and theyb will be able to go faster, if possible.
    gfx card wont work as they are not self=clocking. But yeah this is a midway step to full pcie. Cheapness of cabling is a consideration. Also 1Tb affordable SSD will be here before spring 2015,
    cheap sleep in Ram is best tho.

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