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SATA-IO Reveals SATA Express, µSSD Interfaces

By - Source: SATA-IO | B 17 comments

SATA Express will take the PCIe route while SATA μSSD will allow SATA to be delivered using a single ball grid array package.

On Tuesday, the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) made two announcements: the development of a new SATA Express specification that combines SATA software infrastructure with a PCI Express (PCIe) interface, and the SATA μSSD specification for producing a single-chip SATA implementation for embedded storage solutions.

On the SATA Express front, the new technology will provide a cost-effective means to increase device interface speeds to 8 Gb/s and 16 Gb/s – SSDs and hybrid drives will likely benefit the most. Devices that don't require the speed produced by SATA Express will continue to rely on the current SATA technology.

"The SATA Express specification provides SSD and hybrid drive manufacturers the advantages of performance and scalability enabled by PCIe 3.0 – which is available now – and the ubiquity of SATA," said Mladen Luksic, SATA-IO president. "We expect the SATA Express specification to be completed by the end of 2011."

As for SATA μSSD, this new keyboard-challenged specification defines a new electrical pin-out that allows SATA to be delivered using a single ball grid array (BGA) package. As defined by the SATA-IO, the BGA package sits directly on the motherboard, supporting the SATA interface without a connecting module. By eliminating the connector, the μSSD standard enables the physically smallest SATA implementation to date, making it an ideal solution for embedding storage in small form factor devices like tablets and other small computing devices.

"The SATA μSSD standard is a significant industry achievement that brings high-performance SSD storage in a BGA form factor," said Kevin Conley, senior vice president, client storage solutions, SanDisk. "This is enabling OEM designs of new super-thin Ultrabooks and tablets with high SATA performance."

Tuesday during the Flash Memory Summit taking place in Santa Clara, Sandisk revealed that it already integrated the new specification into its postage stamp-sized line of iSSD chips.

"The BGA package sits directly on the motherboard, allowing for form factors as small as 16mm x 20mm x 1.2mm (up to 32 GB)/1.4mm (for 64 GB) and 16mm x 20mm x 1.85mm (for 128 GB)," the company during the show. "The SanDisk iSSD i100 SSD is available in 8 GB to 128 GB capacities, offering OEMs a flexible range of storage options."

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  • -1 Hide
    oneblackened , August 11, 2011 1:55 AM
    That flash memory chip on motherboard design looks quite cool. Might make mobos with it kind of expensive though.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , August 11, 2011 2:15 AM
    Interesting development. I was simply looking forward to the migration to PCIe based ssd's.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , August 11, 2011 8:21 AM
    SSD's permanently attached to the pcb/mobo - one more item to fail out of warranty and create a throw-away item - sad the world we live in, driven by the demand for slightly thinner, unserviceable units :( 
  • -4 Hide
    cheepstuff , August 11, 2011 1:00 PM
    apache_livesSSD's permanently attached to the pcb/mobo - one more item to fail out of warranty and create a throw-away item - sad the world we live in, driven by the demand for slightly thinner, unserviceable units


    That is not a good justification for excluding SATA SSD integration onto motherboards. Integration is what the industry has been doing to technology for years. Do you still use sound cards for your computer, or is it a chip that sits on your motherboard? Intel has integrated memory controllers and even chipsets onto their CPUs and they are just as reliable as before.
    Adding an industry standard to make SSDs more integratable on electronics important for their adoption. I hardly think that is what makes the world a sad place.
  • -2 Hide
    apache_lives , August 11, 2011 1:03 PM
    cheepstuffThat is not a good justification for excluding SATA SSD integration onto motherboards. Integration is what the industry has been doing to technology for years. Do you still use sound cards for your computer, or is it a chip that sits on your motherboard? Intel has integrated memory controllers and even chipsets onto their CPUs and they are just as reliable as before.Adding an industry standard to make SSDs more integratable on electronics important for their adoption. I hardly think that is what makes the world a sad place.



    MTBF/Reliability for flash memory is different then chipsets/ic's etc like sound etc
  • -1 Hide
    spookyman , August 11, 2011 1:41 PM
    Still remember when IO controllers where separate from the system board. The hard drive and floppy drive, and IO ports came on separate card. The reason was it was cheaper to replace them then the system board at the time. 486 system boards where incredibly expensive compared to what you can get today.
  • -1 Hide
    theoldgrumpybear , August 11, 2011 3:24 PM
    apache_livesSSD's permanently attached to the pcb/mobo - one more item to fail out of warranty and create a throw-away item - sad the world we live in, driven by the demand for slightly thinner, unserviceable units


    Being BGA a mobo manufacturer could just keep it in a "socket" and when/if it fails (or you want/need upgrade etc) you pop it open and replace. Just because you can solder it to the mobo does not mean you have to.
  • 0 Hide
    wiinippongamer , August 11, 2011 5:28 PM
    cheepstuffThat is not a good justification for excluding SATA SSD integration onto motherboards. Integration is what the industry has been doing to technology for years. Do you still use sound cards for your computer, or is it a chip that sits on your motherboard? Intel has integrated memory controllers and even chipsets onto their CPUs and they are just as reliable as before.Adding an industry standard to make SSDs more integratable on electronics important for their adoption. I hardly think that is what makes the world a sad place.


    Anyone who actually cares about sound quality won't be using no crappy onboard chip
  • -1 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 6:41 PM
    wiinippongamerAnyone who actually cares about sound quality won't be using no crappy onboard chip

    Agreed. I am kind of frusterated that I have to pay more for the motherboard for a feature I don't want. The only mobos I can even FIND without onboard sound are server boards. And those cost more... I want motherboards with a unified connection standard (USB/SATA merger of some kind, perhaps Thunderbolt only). I don't want onboard sound, or video, or even ethernet. I want those to be features that I add on myself per my specifications. I am not saying that integrated features on a motherboard are bad in general. They are great for the average joe. But I want a system that I can configure to my hearts content. I want a motherboard that is a minimalist's platform.
  • -2 Hide
    liveonc , August 11, 2011 7:49 PM
    Solder EVERYTHING on it, RAM, CPU, SSD, bundle it with Windows & call it a day, netbooks???
  • -1 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 9:06 PM
    liveoncSolder EVERYTHING on it, RAM, CPU, SSD, bundle it with Windows & call it a day, netbooks???

    As long as the specs are right, sure. It is a netbook, not a laptop/desktop. A more functional tablet. I bet you could get these things to have an extra couple hours of battery life if everything is soldered on.
    If Windows 7 is the OS of choice, you have to have a minimum 4 GB of RAM and 64GB SSD, and an A8...
  • -3 Hide
    pdfsmail , August 11, 2011 10:25 PM
    Interesting developement... I could see something like this happening once I starting hearing of the first SSDs..
    Possibly a step in the right direction..?
  • -1 Hide
    davewolfgang , August 12, 2011 4:52 AM
    jacobdrjAgreed. I am kind of frusterated that I have to pay more for the motherboard for a feature I don't want. The only mobos I can even FIND without onboard sound are server boards. And those cost more... I want motherboards with a unified connection standard (USB/SATA merger of some kind, perhaps Thunderbolt only). I don't want onboard sound, or video, or even ethernet. I want those to be features that I add on myself per my specifications. I am not saying that integrated features on a motherboard are bad in general. They are great for the average joe. But I want a system that I can configure to my hearts content. I want a motherboard that is a minimalist's platform.


    Then you and wiin are in the Minority - Companies make $$$$$ by selling to the Majority of users.
  • -1 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 12, 2011 1:59 PM
    davewolfgangThen you and wiin are in the Minority - Companies make $$$$$ by selling to the Majority of users.

    Power users, by definition, are in the minority. We are willing to pay a bit more to be power users because our stuff is not as available. But I would think something like this would be a big seller amongst the same people who buy super-powerful video cards and high fidelity soundcards ANYWAYS... I wouldn't give this minimalist platform to a general home user who wants power savings and bang for the buck... I'd give it to the guy who wants a very specific feature set, and no extras.
  • -1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , August 12, 2011 6:13 PM
    I've read and read and I still don't know what the heck SATA Express is. Can someone enlighten me, please? Does it allow direct PCI-E bus connectivity over 2 SATA cables? Does it just bind the speed of 2 SATA ports together? what is it????
  • -2 Hide
    apache_lives , August 13, 2011 1:08 AM
    what if SSD's were in some kind of RAM socket... since they are more like ram then mechanical hdd etc...
  • -1 Hide
    Wish I Was Wealthy , August 14, 2011 3:00 PM
    The sooner they get this new technology up and running,the better it is for us to get faster computers and save time hopefully...