6 Gb/s SATA: Seagate’s Barracuda XT And Marvell’s SSD Controller


When it comes to differentiating motherboards—especially those based on P55—it ain’t easy. Asus, specifically, put forth a sizable effort in enabling 6 Gb/s SATA on its first round of P55-based platforms (we should know; we were talking to all of the motherboard companies about their 6 Gb/s plans before Intel’s mainstream chipset was officially launched).

At the time, the easy conclusion was that SATA 6 Gb/s wouldn’t make an immediate impact, and so it probably wasn’t worth basing your entire purchase on when you’re shopping for P55 boards today. I think that our initial results with Seagate’s Barracuda XT would confirm those suspicions.

At $300+, the Barracuda XT has a hefty premium tied to it, especially compared to Hitachi’s 2TB Deskstar, available for $180 online. Support for 6 Gb/s is a measurable benefit, but it’s not going to change your computing experience whatsoever.We'll have a more complete review of the Barracuda XT once Patrick gets his hands on the drive and is able to run a full benchmark suite on it.

More promising is Marvell’s 6 Gb/s SSD controller. Because our test subject arrived somewhat indirectly, Marvell wasn’t willing to share any additional details about its plans for this particular device. What we do know is that it’s able to demonstrate a sizable difference between 3 Gb/s and 6 Gb/s SATA devices. Also, Marvell isn't a drive vendor; the company won't be selling SSDs and instead plans to sell the controller to drive vendors, similar to what Indilinx does with its Barefoot. By the time Marvell gets its performance dialed in and drive vendors start integrating it into their own SSDs, we might have a very compelling reason to recommend motherboards with 6 Gb/s SATA functionality—at least to the enthusiasts able to enjoy all of that throughput.

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  • themadmanazn
    Nice article, looking forward using this technology in a few years =)
  • cyberkuberiah
    we want usb 3 , sata 3 and pcie 3 by mid 2010 as mainstream features !
  • cyberkuberiah
    32nm lynnfields of tomorrow should have 16 lanes but of pcie3 , so that x8 pcie 3.0 crossfire becomes comparable to x16 pcie 2.0 crossfire of today , as mainstream , because just to buy a quality motherboard with dual x16 2.0 means at least $70+ more in intel compared to 790fx+sb750 motherboards . pcie3 was due but got delayed , i sceptically wonder why .
  • huron
    I was looking for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 on my next motherboard. I hear there are some in the works for next year. I look forward to this being more common sometime in the near future.
  • WheelsOfConfusion
    Trips to Spain, constantly upgrading home theater setups, filling your NAS until you need an overkill solution, we get it Chris, you're filthy rich. >:P
  • dcuccia
    Not sure I totally understand...does the Marvell controller support RAID? Couldn't you bandwidth test RAID0 configurations with the Intel G2 drives?
  • belardo
    I WANT IT!!!

    My next mobo MUST have:
    SATA 3.0 6GB/s and USB3.0... PCIe 3.0 would be a bonus.
  • DjEaZy
    ... it's a blast... the question is... when it will be getting on the mainstream...?
  • avatar_raq
    I would like to see a comparison between ASUS Maximus II Extreme (x58) and P7P55D Deluxe SATA III controllers to see if the P55 one truly has a bottleneck affecting the drive performance.
  • cangelini
    WheelsOfConfusionTrips to Spain, constantly upgrading home theater setups, filling your NAS until you need an overkill solution, we get it Chris, you're filthy rich. >

    Hah, I wish! Just fortunate to be able to work with some cool people and cool hardware. First real vacation since my honeymoon almost five years ago!
    Cheers from Barcelona!
  • cyberkuberiah
    BelardoI WANT IT!!!My next mobo MUST have:SATA 3.0 6GB/s and USB3.0... PCIe 3.0 would be a bonus.

    yes and thank god nobody flagged your comment as negative ... i wonder what sort of elitist junta flagged me red for same demands ... and mid 2010 is full 8 months away !
  • cyberkuberiah
    ok , i get it , people want it earlier than that ? even better , let's keep our fingers crossed !
  • MRFS
    There are PCI-E RAID controllers available now with
    SAS/6G support e.g. Intel's RS2BL080 and RS2BL040:


    The "SATA/6G" solution on the ASUS P7P55D Premium is not
    truly "6G" because it has a bottleneck at PCI-E x1 Gen2
    (250 MB/sec x 2 in one direction):

    (archived for "fair use" purposes: see source below)

    = max headroom of 500 MB/second, not 600 MB/second.

    Latter limitation is described in more detail here:


    The Intel RAID controllers above do not appear to have
    that limitation. If I understand the Marvell controller
    described in this article, a good test would be to wire
    it to one of the Intel RAID controllers above and
    "let 'er rip" :)

  • belardo
    Does seem stupid to say "yeah! Cool! I want #####"...

    oh well.
  • Anonymous
    Chris, have fun in Spain!