Seagate, Intel and Silicon Image today demonstrated new Serial ATA II interface capabilities that are defined by the upcoming Serial ATA II specification. The demonstration took place at the Intel Developer Forum conference in San Jose, CA.
Among other advances, the working system showcased today implements Native Command Queuing — a key new capability defined in the Serial ATA II specification that will enable new intelligence in entry-level servers, networked storage devices and high-end PCs. The demonstration used an integrated Serial ATA solution including a hard drive, host controller, and system software — all required to perform command queuing — and is the first example of new features expected to be outlined in the Serial ATA II specification scheduled to be released next quarter.
While the Serial ATA 1.0 specification already ensures performance headroom for years to come, the Serial ATA II specification enhances Serial ATA with features that add data-handling intelligence to provide additional value for entry-level server, networked storage and high-end PC markets. These features are expected to further increase the momentum of Serial ATA in these targeted applications and to help accelerate the industry transition from Parallel ATA to Serial ATA.
Native Command Queuing is perhaps the most anticipated feature of the new specification. It enables a hard drive to take multiple requests for data from the processor and rearrange the order of those requests to maximize throughput. Serial ATA II hard drives will be able to queue and execute requests without any assistance from a system’s CPU or motherboard chipset.
Today’s demo highlights the benefits of the Serial ATA Native Command Queuing that has been prototyped by the three Companies involved. The system uses Silicon Image’s SATALink SiI 3112A(TM) PCI to Serial ATA host controller, a custom prototype drive provided by Seagate and software developed by Intel. In a head-to-head comparison, the Seagate Serial ATA native queuing drive and an equivalent Parallel ATA drive are both exercised with a disc-intensive workload. The IOPS (I/Os per second) performed by each drive is displayed real-time on side-by-side “tachometers.”
While today’s demonstration focuses on Native Command Queuing, the companies are also moving forward to develop new other bew Serial ATA II features including:
- Performance improvements such as out-of-order execution/delivery and data scatter/gathering
- Complete enclosure management including fan control, activity indicators, temperature control, new device notification
- Backplane interconnect solution to extend trace lengths beyond those allowed by Serial ATA 1.0 for use in racks of hot-swappable drives
- Efficient connectivity to a large number of drives
“Seagate’s work to develop new technologies like Serial ATA gives our customers greater opportunities to create new products in the PC and entry- server markets, with new features and new levels of performance,” said Darci Arnold, Seagate vice president, Global Marketing. “Our R&D leadership and our work with technology leaders like Intel and Silicon Image continues to enable advances for our customers.”
Parviz Khodi, Silicon Image vice president of marketing, stated, “Our collaboration with Seagate and Intel made this important demonstration possible. Only integrated Serial ATA drive and host solutions have the features necessary to perform native command queuing, which is critical to Serial ATA II functionality. We designed the SiI 3112 host controller with enhanced capabilities beyond the requirements of the Serial ATA 1.0 specification, enabling the implementation and demonstration of next- generation Serial ATA II command queuing capability today. As the first and only production-ready, fully integrated Serial ATA host controller, our SATALink SiI 3112 is a key enabler in the industry’s transition to Serial ATA and a testament to our leadership in implementing Serial ATA technology.”