8 Gbit/sec SATA: Really?

By Henry Newman

I read this article back over a year ago and was told that I would get 8 Gbit/sec SATA in 2013.  It is now 2014 and we still have no products.   The SAS train has left the station, leaving SATA in the dust with SAS at 12 Gbit/sec with plans to go to 24 Gbit/sec.  The SAS people hit their 12 Gbit roadmap from a few years ago pretty much on target, but as you can see the SATA roadmap is falling way behind.

What does this mean for SATA connected devices, specifically consumer disks, but also nearline disks with both SATA and SAS connectivity?  My guess is they are moving back to two classes of connectivity.  For those of you who were around about a decade ago, we had two classes, were SATA and Fibre channel.  These got merged in the late 2000s to SATA and SAS and they operated at the same speed. 

Consumer drives always had a SATA or IDE connection and never had SAS connectivity.  So what happens to disk drives over the next few years?  My guess is that the SATA connectivity on the drives does not move up to 8 Gbit/sec, when and if the standard gets codified.  The reason is pretty simple: most if not all storage vendors are moving to SAS connectivity. Why should the drive vendors spend the money to build something that no one will use?

My good friend Jeff Layton will be addressing the issue of SAS and SATA reliability soon on Enterprise Storage Forum. Look for it. On the consumer side, SATA will continue to dominate and you might ask why. The reason is that Intel has SATA on their CPUs so it is easy to connect without building external chipsets on the motherboard.  That is the way I see it going.

This article was originally published on June 04, 2014