Marvell Debuts Serial ATA II

Marvell hopes to push Serial ATA II into the enterprise with the release of the first available 3-gigabit per second Serial ATA II host controllers, which deliver twice the speed of current SATA technology.

Marvell touts the new 88SX6081 (8-port) and 88SX6041 (4-port) Serial ATA II controllers as key components in enabling the highest-performance and most cost-effective solutions for server RAID on motherboard (ROMB) implementations, RAID adapters, network attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SANs), and nearline storage arrays.

Marvell has claimed other Serial ATA (SATA) firsts as well, including the 2001 introduction of the first parallel to serial bridging products and the 2002 introduction of the first 4- and 8-port 88SX50xx PCI-X SATA host controllers. The company says it has shipped more than 5 million SATA ports to date and has recorded more than 50 design wins with its SATA products.

“We are seeing strong adoption of Serial ATA technology in the market-leading vendors for servers, RAID adapters, enterprise RAID arrays, and nearline storage,” says Balaji Baktha, general manager of Marvell’s Storage Networking Business Unit. “Marvell’s Serial ATA II solutions provide these customers a platform to develop a host of next generation enterprise applications.”

Serial ATA has created a new class of cost-effective primary storage solutions that complement high-end Fibre Channel architectures. The combination of low cost and high capacity offered by ATA-based hard disk drives also creates new options for data backup using nearline storage to complement traditional tape backup systems.

“Serial ATA technology is already becoming a significant force in the development of lower-cost server and external disk storage systems, and is ramping in share as the market leaders in these spaces continue to introduce Serial ATA-based systems into their product lines,” says Sean Lavey, a semiconductor analyst with IDC. “The introduction of Serial ATA II-based silicon should accelerate this trend, as it provides critical performance improvements necessary for adoption in a wider range of enterprise environments.”

SATA II also improves on the original SATA technology by adding native command queuing and support for Serial ATA port multiplier and port selector technology.

The 88SX60xx controllers implement Marvell’s second-generation Serial ATA physical layer (PHY) technology that supports both 1.5 Gbps and 3 Gbps operation for high performance Serial ATA backplane implementations. Spread spectrum clocking (SSC) boosts EMI performance for lower enclosure costs and easier system certification, according to the company.

Operation at 3 Gbps enables plug-and-play support for next-generation Serial ATA II 3 Gbps hard drives. Serial ATA II port multiplier support allows aggregation of multiple 1.5 Gbps Serial ATA links into a single 3 Gbps host port for high-density storage enclosures using next generation 2.5″ form factor drives.

The 88SX60xx devices implement Serial ATA II native command queuing (NCQ), boosting performance on enterprise applications such as email servers and databases that rely heavily on random accesses. The 88SX60xx devices also support Serial ATA I/ATA-6 tag command queuing (TCQ) used in Marvell’s first-generation 88SX50xx Serial ATA host controllers, allowing full interoperability with Serial ATA I TCQ drives.

The 88SX60xx software application programming interface (API) compatibility with Marvell’s first-generation Serial ATA I host controllers allows rapid migration to Serial ATA II technology, the company says. The API utilizes a SCSI programming model, allowing SCSI applications to be easily ported to Serial ATA HDD subsystems.

Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.
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