SATA: Evolutionary or Revolutionary Disk Technology? Page 2


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Will SATA Overtake the SCSI Market?

On specifications, SATA is closing in on SCSI and in some respects may even eventually overtake it, but is SATA ready right now? Clark says that SATA is not designed to, nor is it expected to, surpass the specific capabilities of the SCSI interface. "SCSI offers a much richer command set than SATA 1.0 or SATA II," states Clark. She also says that because SCSI has a myriad of built-in features and protocols, it is easier to customize to a specific application, giving customers the freedom that they have become accustomed to.

However, she does say that SATA is indeed meant to replace PATA. "SATA unleashes the power of ATA, but to keep the cost within the expectations of PC and entry-level system builders, SATA storage must be designed around the appropriate workload." Clark also contends SATA is designed for PCs and those cost sensitive servers that handle the lower transactional workloads.

According to Yang, SATA addresses the market's needs and requirements for cost/performance with powerful industry forces driving its development. In addition, she says with all the major manufacturers announcing SATA drives during Q4 2002 and Q1 2003, the ATA revolution is coming on strong. "SATA will co-exist in the PC market with PATA at the beginning, then eventually replace it." SATA chipset integration, she continues, is scheduled for release by the second half of 2003, and the forthcoming SATA II technology is the one foreseen to really close the gap with most SCSI applications.

According to the SATA Working Group, SATA defines a roadmap that starts at 1.5 gigabits per second (equivalent to a data rate of 150MB/s) and migrates to 3.0 gigabits per second (roughly 300 MB/s), then to 6.0 gigabits per second (600 MB/s) -- six times faster than the current ATA standard -- and allows for more flexible and intelligent systems. This roadmap supports up to 10 years of storage evolution, based on historical trends.

Impacting Storage Budgets

Right now, everyone in the IT industry is watching SATA technology, so what type of impact will it have on companies' storage budgets in 2004? Clark says that part of the beauty of Serial ATA is that its adoption has been made as simple as possible -- making the market transition almost seamless.

"Certainly, the entire market will begin the transition to SATA this year, but the impact on budgets may well be incremental, just as it would be if the transition were to a PATA interface," says Clark.

Yang says that LSI Logic is already starting to see its customers move from the PATA interface to the SATA interface. "SCSI and Fibre Channel will continue to be the choices for the high-end server markets, but with SATA II features, SATA will start penetrating to the high-end server markets, especially in the cost sensitive and near-line storage areas," she concludes.

» See All Articles by Columnist Leslie Wood

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