SATA and PCI-Express Combine to Form Awesome SATA Express Specification

The Serial ATA International Organization (let's just call them SATA-IO for short) announced this week it's developing a new standard called SATA Express. This is exactly what it sounds like, in that the new specification takes the Serial ATA standard and PCI Express, tosses them into a high-tech blender, and what comes out is a faster interface for SATA devices called SATA Express. Doesn't that sound groovy?

It should, because this technology sidesteps the SATA bottleneck that could come into play as solid state drives continue to get faster. According to SATA IO, the new spec is a cost friendly way of increasing device interface speeds to 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s.

"SATA Express enables the development of new devices that utilize the PCIe interface and maintain compatibility with existing SATA applications. The technology will provide a cost-effective means to increase device interface speeds to 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s."

"The SATA Express specification provides SSD and hybrid drive manufacturers the advantages of performance and scalability enabled by PCI-E 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."

Proposed SATA Express Keyed Ports

Proposed SATA Express Cables and Ports

The other solution would have been to increase SATA speeds, but according to SATA-IO, SSDs haven't saturated the market enough where such a move would make sense. By moving the SATA controller from the host and plopping it into the SSD, SATA Express devices will still appear as SATA devices to the OS.