Third generation Serial ATA technology is finally here. Today we are going to take a look at the new Seagate Barracuda XT, the first SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive to hit the TweakTown Test Lab.
A few weeks ago LSI sent over their first next generation SAS / SATA controller to review with a set of Seagate 15K.7 SAS drives that were also the first SAS 6 Gb/s products to hit the market. I think it is fair to say that Seagate is leading the charge when it comes to these next generation products that will improve the productivity of our daily computing experience for years to come.
When SATA was first introduced most SATA hard drives were ported from PATA with a bridge chip and the technology was little more than an improvement in the size of the cable used for connectivity. It wasn't long before the four groups who are responsible for the standard realized the error in their ways and announced SATA 3 Gb/s, the second generation standard that brought us AHCI, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), staggered spin-up and hot swapping. Clearly SATA 3Gb/s was a significant update.
In July 2008 SATA-IO, one of four groups that work on the SATA standards introduced the latest standard, SATA 6Gb/s. This updated version allows for the following changes (via Wiki):
• A new Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command to enable Isochronous data transfers for bandwidth-hungry audio and video applications.
• An NCQ Management feature that helps optimize performance by enabling host processing and management of outstanding NCQ commands.
• Improved power management capabilities.
• A small Low Insertion Force (LIF) connector for more compact 1.8-inch storage devices.
• A connector designed to accommodate 7 mm optical disk drives for thinner and lighter notebooks.
• Alignment with the INCITS ATA8-ACS standard.
The enhancements are generally aimed at improving quality of service for video streaming and high priority interrupts. In addition, the standard continues to support distances up to a meter. The new speeds may require higher power consumption for supporting chips, factors that new process technologies and power management techniques are expected to mitigate. The new specification can use existing SATA cables and connectors, although some OEMs are expected to upgrade host connectors for the higher speeds. Also, the new standard is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gbit/s.
In order to avoid parallels to the common SATA II misnomer, the SATA-IO has compiled a set of marketing guidelines for the new specification. The specification should be called Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA Revision 3.0, and the technology itself is to be referred to as SATA 6 Gbit/s. A product using this standard should be called the SATA 6 Gbit/s [product name]. The terms SATA III or SATA 3.0, which are considered to cause confusion among consumers, must not be used.
Now that we have the standards down, let's move on and focus on the Seagate Barracuda XT.