The eagerly awaited new specification for hard-drive interconnects was released today, promising file-transfer speeds of up to six gigabits per second.
The cleverly acronymed Serial ATA International Organization - SATA-IO - on Wednesday announced that the SATA Revision 3.0 specification was officially ready for public consumption. In a joint release (PDF) issued from Portland, Oregon and Taipei, Taiwan, SATA-IO president Knut Grimsrud noted that "The SATA Revision 3.0 specification doubles the maximum transfer speed enabled by technology, paving the way for a new generation of faster SATA products."
Of perhaps equal importance to the speed of SATA Revision 3.0, however, is its enhancements to native command queuing (NCQ). Introduced in the SATA Revision 2 spec, NCQ intelligently reorders read/write commands sent to a drive by its host, sequencing them in such a way as to perform them in order of when the tracks and sectors they involve are available.
Think, for example, of an elevator. It doesn't matter in which order an elevator's floor buttons are pushed, it'll stop at each floor in sequence. So with NCQ.
SATA Revision 3.0 has new NCQ streaming commands designed to better enable the isochronous file transfers required for video and audio. Simply put, isochronous transfers operate at a pre-set rate, thus allowing media files to play without interuption - as opposed to asynchronous file transfers for simple file-copying and the like, which can be intermittently interrupted with no one being the wiser.
Mechanical improvments in SATA Revision 3.0 include a new low insertion force (LIF) connector for 1.8-inch drives, and a new low-profile connector for 7mm optical drives that will help them squeeze into those ultrathin notebooks that are - or will be - all the rage. Power management also received an upgrade.
According to the SATA-IO, more than 1.1 billion SATA hard drives have shipped in the period between 2001, when the standard was originally released, and 2008, when SATA represented more than 98 percent of internal hard disk drive shipments.
However, despite SATA's success even the finest minds in the geek world often get its naming conventions wrong. So let's start afresh with SATA Revision 3.0: The standard is called SATA Revision 3.0, not SATA 3.0. There's no such thing as SATA 3.0.
Also, drives based on SATA Revision 3.0 are to be identified with product names of "SATA 6Gb/s whatever." For example: SATA 6Gb/s SuperSpeedyDrive Gold Edition II.
Got it? If not, you can find a naming-conventions cheat sheet here ®.