July 2008
Volume 3, Issue 2

In this Issue:

What’s New in SATA Revision 3.0?
The SATA Specification Revision Process
SATA-IO Logo Certification Program
Serial ATA Powers Smaller and Faster Storage Devices
eSATA Widely Adopted in PC Notebooks at Computex 2008
SATA 6Gb/s Naming Guidelines
Spring 2008 Event Recap

The following industry leaders are proud new members of SATA-IO:

ALPS Electric Co., Ltd
Blancco Oy Ltd

CMS Products, Inc.

CoreSolid Storage Corporation
Entorian Technologies L.P
  ETRON Technology, Inc
  Hua Ya Plastic & Metal Co. Ltd
  LG Electronics Inc
  Linpo Industrial Ltd
  Magnum Semiconductor
Micron Technology, Inc
  Mobius Microsystem
  Netcom Technology (H.K.) Co., Ltd
  Other World Computing
  Tech - Technologist Purchasing
Texas Instruments

What’s New in SATA Revision 3.0?

You probably know that SATA Revision 3.0, the next SATA specification, will contain the technical requirements for SATA 6Gb/s technology.  But did you know there will be other new features as well?

There are a number of clarifications and errata against the current SATA Revision 2.6 that will be included in Revision 3.0.  This information has been available to members in the form of Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) on the SATA-IO Web site in the members-only area. 

New features in SATA Revision 3.0 include:

  • Addition of 6Gb/s to speed negotiation and a few new 6Gb/s-specific registers
  • New bits in the IDENTIFY DEVICE return data to indicate the current negotiated SATA PHY speed (1.5Gb/s, 3Gb/s, or 6Gb/s)
  • Capability to automatically transition from Partial to Slumber mode without having to go through Active mode, thus improving power management
  • New Serial ATA Native Command Queuing (NCQ) Streaming Command, which will provide isochronous data transfers to make SATA more suitable for audio/video applications
  • More detailed NCQ specifications to ensure consistent implementations in SATA products
  • A smaller Low Insertion Force (LIF) connector for 1.8-inch devices

SATA Revision 3.0 is still a work in progress, so stay tuned.

The SATA Specification Revision Process

Ever wonder how a new SATA specification is created?  The basic approach is straightforward, but the details can be complex.  SATA Revision 3.0 is a good example.

There are six teams involved in the creation of SATA Revision 3.0.  Each team meets almost every week via teleconference, and quarterly in person, to complete its tasks. Team members have homework to do between meetings as well, in addition to their regular jobs.

The SATA-IO 6Gb/s PHY (physical layer) team was created in June 2006, specifically to define the specifications for the SATA 6Gb/s PHY, requiring changes to jitter, amplitude, and Out of Band (OOB) signaling in order to operate at 6Gb/s. The team is now very close to completing the 6Gb/s PHY specification.

A separate SATA-IO PHY group is responsible for ECNs against the current SATA Revision 2.6 physical layer that will be included in Revision 3.0.

The Digital group is responsible for developing and maintaining the SATA protocol.  This team is working on adding new commands, register bits, etc., for SATA Revision 3.0 to meet market requirements.

The CabCon (cables and connectors) group does just what you’d expect–specify the cables and connectors for SATA.  The group is just wrapping up a specification for a smaller Low Insertion Force (LIF) connector for 1.8-inch drives.

The Technical Integration team is where it all comes together.  They combine the PHY, protocol and cable/connector specs, to generate a complete SATA specification.  When this team has finalized SATA Revision 3.0, it will be sent out to the membership for a 60-day review.  Any comments will be reviewed, necessary changes implemented, and then SATA Revision 3.0 will be officially released.

Last, but not least, the marketing working group is responsible for keeping the SATA-IO membership informed about important subjects like SATA Revision 3.0 and promoting SATA technology in the marketplace.

SATA-IO Logo Certification Program to Launch at IDF San Francisco

SATA-IO will formally launch its logo certification program at the Fall Intel Developer Forum (IDF), August 19-21, in San Francisco. The program will enable devices passing SATA-IO interoperability testing to bear the SATA certified logos, indicating adherence to the SATA specifications.

Establishing the logo certification program is an important step toward continuing to raise awareness of SATA-IO in the industry. Utilizing the logo to designate compliant products will provide an easy way to identify SATA and eSATA products that have successfully completed SATA-IO interoperability testing.

When the logo program is launched, members with products currently on the SATA-IO Integrators List will be asked to sign a logo usage agreement in order to display the appropriate certified logo on sales collateral and other marketing materials. In the future, the logo usage agreement will be offered to all members with products that achieve Integrator List status.

Stay tuned for more information on the logo certification program in the coming months!

Serial ATA Powers Smaller and Faster Storage Devices  

Less than one month following the release of the Serial ATA Revision 2.6 specification, a new category of compact and high-performance hard disk drives has appeared on the market.  Aimed at the burgeoning demand for desktop-like performance in ultra-portable computers, small form factor, 1.8-inch hard disk drives sporting SATA interfaces have emerged as the storage solution for applications catering to demanding users on-the-go.   

The diminutive size of 1.8-inch hard disk drives required the SATA-IO committee to define and develop a new interface connector that could provide the same fast throughput, data and connection integrity as well as seamless interoperability which characterize the SATA interface.  These efforts resulted in the micro-SATA connector, which was specifically designed for 1.8-inch form factor storage solutions. 

Serial ATA-enabled 1.8-inch hard disk drives are now available in capacities up to 120GB, with 160GB offerings coming to market in August.  Today’s 1.8-inch SATA hard disk drives typically pair high-capacity with performance features such as 5400 RPM spindle speeds and 8MB buffers to burst digital data across the SATA interface at rates previously limited to larger form factor, 3.5-inch desktop and 2.5-inch notebook drives.  At 62 grams or less, 1.8-inch disk drives are 30 percent lighter weight than 2.5-inch drives and offer added robustness against external shock and vibration events.

Introduction of the micro-SATA connector made possible the emergence of SATA on 1.8-inch form factor storage devices.  At today’s storage densities, 1.8-inch hard disk drives offer mainstream capacities that reduce the storage footprint by up to 50 percent.  Together, these advancements create compelling solutions which fuel the adoption of SATA into new applications such as high-performance, ultra-portable PCs, and keep SATA-IO in the forefront of an ever-diversifying computer market.

SATA 6Gb/s Naming Guidelines

SATA-IO will soon issue revised naming guidelines to help the industry correctly identify SATA specifications, technologies and products. As member review of the yet-to-be-ratified specification for SATA 6Gb/s technology continues, the organization would like to provide members with guidelines to follow as member companies develop their own internal product marketing plans.

For marketing and product naming purposes, the proper name for the SATA 6Gb/s specification itself is “SATA Revision 3.0.” The technology itself is to be referred to as “SATA 6Gb/s.” A product using this standard should be called the “SATA 6Gb/s [product name].” The SATA 6Gb/s logo is available in the members-only section of the SATA-IO Web site.

Please do not use the terms “SATA III” or “SATA 3.0.”  These terms are incorrect and will cause undue confusion. Do not use either “Gen 3” or “Third Generation” in the product name itself. Note that the references to Gen 3 embedded within the new specification are technical specification naming conventions only and should not be used for marketing and product naming purposes.

SATA-IO will send a detailed announcement to members when the revised naming guidelines are posted to the Web site.

eSATA Widely Adopted in PC Notebooks at Computex 2008

Significant advancements in the adoption of eSATA support among PC notebook manufacturers were clearly evident during the June 2008 Computex 2008 show. Prior to this event, only a few PC notebooks had adopted eSATA support for high-speed backups. During Computex show, more than 85% of the notebooks from top manufacturers demonstrated products including eSATA support. For instance, a display in the Intel both showed nearly 90% penetration of eSATA support on new generation notebooks.

Around 20 notebook models supporting eSATA were on display at this event, including: HP Pavillion HDX 5 models (dv3000); Toshiba Satellite P300; Acer Aspire 5463; Asus 5463 and M50V; LG SS10; Gigabyte W476M and W576M; MSI GX720 and PR621

Spring 2008 Event Recap

Intel Developer Forum – April 2-3, 2008; Shanghai, China

SATA-IO’s presence at IDF Shanghai was a great success! Thanks to volunteer booth staff from member companies ICT Solutions, AMCC (3Ware), and Silicon Image, IDF attendees were well-informed of all SATA-IO activities. Literature handed to attendees included press kits and releases, brochures, and SATA FAQs. Additionally, SATA-IO president, Knut Grimsrud, met with seven members of the press from six different countries to apprise them of the organization’s continuing contributions to the industry. Editors from leading publications including Computer Review, Shanghai Daily, PC Market, and ZDnet Belgium were impressed with SATA technology’s dominant position in the marketplace and expressed anticipation for the forthcoming SATA Revision 3.0. Media outreach at IDF resulted in a total of 10 articles discussing SATA technology.

Stop by our booth at IDF San Francisco 2008!

SATA-IO Interoperability Workshop #5 and Plugfest #10 – April 14-18, 2008; Portland, Oregon

SATA-IO hosted its fifth Interoperability Workshop (IW) in April with a focus on the verification of PHY electrical characteristics, mechanical and electrical characteristics of cables/connectors, digital protocol, and general interoperability. More than 55 attendees from 17 different companies participated. Testing included HDDs, ODDs, and Building Blocks. The Plugfest attracted more than 90 attendees from 30 different member companies. The next testing events (Plugfest #11 and IW #6) will be held in Milpitas, California, September 29-October 3, 2008.  More information will soon be available on the SATA-IO Web site.

SATA-IO Industry Forum and Annual Members Meeting – April 14, 2008

The SATA-IO marketing team hosted an evening of discussion and presentations in conjunction with the testing events.  Attendees were addressed by Knut Grimsrud, SATA-IO President, as well as Conrad Maxwell, SATA-IO Marketing Workgroup Chair. Topics included the SATA-IO roadmap, state of the organization, and interoperability program developments. Our event sponsors included Finisar, Synopsys, SyntheSys and Tektronix. Thanks to these companies, attendees enjoyed good food and drinks during the Industry Forum.

Please submit any future article ideas and topics to Conrad Maxwell, SATA-IO Marketing Chair, Silicon Image.

SATA-IO Administration