SSDs Are Now Too Fast For PCs To Handle. So What's The Solution?

When it debuted, Serial ATA was overkill. Only the fastest (and most expensive) hard drives could utilise the extra bandwidth and by the time SATA II arrived, it was unnecessary for the average consumer. These days however, with affordable SSDs for desktops and a majority of notebook PCs sporting flash storage, even SATA III is being pushed to its limits. So what's the next step?

Image: Samsung

The Serial ATA International Organization, or SATA-IO, is already on the case with a new standard, called "SATA Express", as Anandtech's Kristian Vättö explains. With SSDs transfer speeds hitting — and exceeding — the gigabyte mark, SATA III, with its maximum rate of 600MB/s, is clearly not up to the task.

However, the other major bus standard in modern PCs, PCI Express, can handle this workload. With PCIe 3.0 sporting a maximum speed of 32Gb/s and even 2.0 capable of 16Gb/s, there's more than enough bandwidth to keep increasingly faster SSDs happy. That's where SATA Express comes in.

The hardware combines SATA signals with PCIe ones, with the resulting cabling resembling PATA gear of old, though the Anandtech article states the design is not final. As for the performance of the Franken-standard, it does exactly what it says on the tin, with tests showing a Plextor 256GB M6e SSD hitting its rated read speeds of 770MB/s, something not possible on SATA III.

The bad news is there's currently no mainstream support for SATAe from motherboard vendors and it might be a year before we see anything. Not that it's a big deal — for the regular person SATA III is good enough, but there are undoubtedly server configurations that would greatly benefit from the performance boost. For now, you can still use PCIe SSDs if you're desperate.

Testing SATA Express And Why We Need Faster SSDs [Anandtech]


Comments

    In what way is using PCIe SSD's a "desperate" option lol.. How is it even any different?

    Also.. Combining signals? :|

    Last edited 15/03/14 3:27 pm

    I think SATA is slow, and out of date. PCIe is designed for hi speed data transfer and is already available on motherboards. I think SSD manufacturers should make all SSD's faster than 600MB/s for PCIe, and perhaps all new SSD's.

    Ok, let's nitpick. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but...

    1. Commercially available SSD's are still too slow to max out SATA3, with most SSD's averaging 500MB/s, which while yes, it's close, it hasn't changed much if at all in the last 1-2 years. So, no, SSD's are not too fast for my (or your) PC to handle.
    2. PCIE SSD's have been a thing for a while now, and are far from fast enough to max out PCIE. So again, not too fast for my (or your) PC.
    3. Always happy to hear about improvements, and happier to hear when they become relevant and affordable to me :)
    But let's not get overly dramatic about it.

      Hmm, this is actually not the case, I think you are talking not about commercially available, you are talking about products for the consumer i.e the home user,

      This section is about IT Pros.

      There are many cases in the IT world where this is the case, such as when dealing with HPC's Our (Where I work) current HPC has 2200 cores of processing in it. hooked up to a 400TB SSD Storage array. So things like this is where it comes into play, I am actually interested in the new Intel networking cable standard that I think Gizmodo mentioned the other week, As we use infiniband on our network, but still that new format of would make it much easier to move around really large files.

      1. Commercially available SSD's are still too slow to max out SATA3, with most SSD's averaging 500MB/s, which while yes, it's close, it hasn't changed much if at all in the last 1-2 years. So, no, SSD's are not too fast for my (or your) PC to handle.

      When the bus limit is 600MB/s, there'll likely be little interest in pushing the speed of consumer level devices close to that. What would be the point in making a SATA III device that has read speeds of say 700MB/s? Even getting close to 600 MB/s you start to question the performance of your motherboard/sata interface device.

      The point is that they can make SSD's faster than what's currently available, but in order to do so, they need to work in the interface used first. The exception to this can be with "enterprise" solution where expensive solutions are more appropriate, like using PCIe interfaces.

    They could've picked a better name. We currently have eSATA and this is called SATAe. I imagine this creating a lot of confusion when it hits mainstream.

      Confusing acronyms are not a new thing. Compare PCI vs. PCIe vs. PCIx.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now