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Serial ATA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What is Serial ATA?

Serial ATA is a disk-interface technology developed by a group of the industry's leading vendors to replace parallel ATA. The group known as the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) owns the development of the Serial ATA technology and maintenance of its specifications.

  • What are the compelling reasons why Serial ATA is a viable option for network-attached storage (NAS) and server storage?

1) Scalability - Serial ATA is a point-to-point connection and allows multiple ports to be aggregated into a single controller that is typically located either on the motherboard or as an add-in, RAID card. Through backplanes and external enclosures, Serial ATA will be deployed in high-capacity server and networked-storage environments.

2) Price - Serial ATA was created, with desktop prices in mind, as a replacement for Parallel ATA. Initial hard disk drives (HDD's) are expected to be priced competitively for the desktop. With the scalable features of Serial ATA combined with desktop price-points, greater storage capacity may be realized at a lower total solution cost than with traditional server and networked storage.

3) Performance - Serial ATA technology supports both 1.5 Gbps (150 MB/sec) and 3.0 Gbps (300MB/sec) of performance to each drive within a disk drive array.

  • When will Serial ATA infrastructure products be shipping in volume?

Hard disk drives, cables, enclosures, and controller vendors have been supplying Serial ATA products to the industry since 2002. It is expected that additional product areas, such as optical disk drives (e.g. DVDROM, CDRW) will begin ramping with Serial ATA beginning in 2006.

  • Where is Serial ATA positioned relative to other interface technologies?

Serial ATA technology provides a new serial interconnect designed to change the way vendors develop storage systems. The first deployments, where price is an important issue, were intended for client applications, entry-level servers and network-attached storage. As the infrastructure continues to develop, Serial ATA will continue to penetrate into higher-end servers and more complex storage systems.

  • What is the long-term road map for Serial ATA?

Serial ATA initially defined a roadmap starting at 1.5 gigabits per second (equivalent to a data rate of 150MB/s) and migrating to 3.0 gigabits per second (300 MB/s), then to 6.0 gigabits per second (600 MB/s). This roadmap supports up to 10 years of storage evolution, based on historical trends.

  • How does Serial ATA handle backward compatibility issues?

Serial ATA supports legacy drivers for Parallel ATA. OEMs can deploy Serial ATA, today, using existing parallel ATA drivers.

  • Are there any known interoperability issues with Serial ATA?

One of the primary requirements of the Serial ATA 1.0 specification was to maintain backward compatibility with existing operating system drivers to eliminate incompatibility issues.

  • How will operating systems handle Serial ATA?

Because of the legacy support inherent in the specification, operating support will be simplified. The Serial ATA specification allows for additional features to be added to applications. Additional features will be subject to normal driver validation processes.

  • How does the end-user benefit from using Serial ATA technology in servers and NAS?

The end-user will benefit from lower cost, higher performance (via increased speed and scalability), and easier configuration. Serial ATA allows for higher performance while using existing, proven features such as 3.5" disk drives. Configuration of Serial ATA devices will eliminate many of today's requirements for jumpers and settings.

  • How does the system vendor benefit from using Serial ATA technology in servers and NAS?

Benefits for the OEM:

› Easier configuration and design with cables that are thinner, have smaller connectors, and are simpler to route and install

› Ability to use HDD technology across multiple segments such as desktops, entry and midrange servers, and networked storage

› Easier training for Sales and Tech Support staff

› Improved silicon design with lower voltage that will ease current design requirements in Parallel ATA

› Compatibility with today's software that will enable Serial ATA to run on the new architecture without modification

  • How can I get more information?

More information, including additional FAQs, can be obtained at SATA-IO web site.

  • What is Intel's role in Serial ATA and storage?

Intel has been a leading force, and it is one of over 160 companies driving the Serial ATA initiative to enable low cost, high-performance, next-generation disk interconnects. As a leading supplier of storage building blocks, including Intel® Architecture Processors, motherboards, I/O processors, ethernet NICs, RAID controllers, and iSCSI HBAs, Intel sees Serial ATA as a critical technology for next-generation storage platforms.