For the last few years, SATA 2 has been the hard drive connection standard of choice for non-server markets. Offering up to 3 Gbps (300 MB/sec.) of (theoretical) speed has been adequate for many. However, Seagate, AMD and SATA-io believe the time for SATA 3 has come.
During a demonstration at the Everything Channel Xchange Conference in New Orleans, Seagate demoed the new 6 Gbps SATA 3 standard. According to the demo, the SATA2 drive (a 7200.12 Barracuda) topped out around 288 MB/sec, running just below the standards top theoretical speed. The SATA 3 drive, a Seagate Barracuda SATA 3 prototype, reached a staggering 589 MB/sec, more than double the speed of the SATA 2 setup.
"The increasing reliance of consumers and businesses worldwide on digital information is giving rise to gaming, digital video and audio, streaming video, graphics and other applications that require even more bandwidth, driving demand for PC interfaces that can carry even more digital content," said Joan Motsinger, Seagate's VP of Personal Systems Marketing and Strategy. "The SATA 6Gb/second storage interface will meet this demand for higher-bandwidth PCs."
New standards always make consumers nervous. New standards, in some cases, mean new hardware and new cables. In the case of SATA 3, the new drives will be 100 percent backwards compatible with SATA 1 and 2, and will use the same cables for easy integration. So if you find yourself with a new motherboard that sports SATA 3, hooking up an older SATA 2 hard drive packed with all your music and photos will be a snap.
According to the SATA-io website, SATA 3 (or SATA Revision 3.0) will be available in the first half of this year. AMD has said it plans to support the new standard with an upcoming revision of its 700 series chipsets. While no word from Intel has been received, expect SATA 3 on several chipset revisions as well as the new P55 motherboards coming out in a few months.