By Dave Simpson
Few disk drive interfaces have generated the buzz that Serial ATA (SATA) is generating. And based on drive shipment predictions, it's easy to understand why.
International Data Corp. analyst Dave Reinsel predicts that shipments of SATA drives for desktops will skyrocket from almost 2.5 million units in 2003 to more than 51 million units this year, topping 124 million units in 2005. In fact, Reinsel expects shipments of desktop SATA drives to grow at a 406% CAGR from 2002 through 2007.
And Reinsel predicts that shipments of Serial ATA drives will eclipse shipments of the predecessor IDE (Parallel ATA) drives in 2005.
SATA's encroachment in the server space will be more measured. Reinsel anticipates that shipments of SATA drives for servers will grow from a half-million units last year to two million units this year and 3.6 million units in 2005.
Looking out to 2007, Reinsel predicts that there will be an approximate parity in server drive shipments among Fibre Channel, Parallel SCSI, SATA, and Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS).
On the server front, the only debate is whether SATA drives and subsystems are "enterprise" class (e.g., suitable for use in mission-critical server applications), a debate that probably won't be resolved until enough users try out SATA RAID arrays in midrange and high-end application environments.
SATA offers a number of advantages for both end users and storage/systems integrators. For integrators, SATA's cables are longer and thinner than the short, bulky cables required by Parallel ATA, and SATA has a 7-pin connector (vs. 40 pins for Parallel ATA), both of which translate into sleeker designs and fewer challenges with airflow and heat issues.
For end users, SATA provides "good-enough" storage at a very low cost compared to high-end SCSI and Fibre Channel drives/arrays. The first generation of SATA runs at a 150MBps data rate, and second (300MBps) and third (600MBps) generations are on the road map.
For more information about SATA, visit the Serial ATA Working Group's Website at www.serialata.org.