On Thursday, the SATA-IO group moved closer to bringing SATA Express to reality with the release of SATA revision 3.2. SATA Express is a new specification that enables the coexistence of SATA and PCIe storage devices, as well as enhancements in power management, new SATA form-factors, and optimizations for solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs). PCIe technology enables increased interface speeds of up to 2GB/s (2 lanes of PCIe 3.0), compared with today’s SATA technology at 0.6GB/s (6Gb/s).
SATA revision 3.2 also incorporates the M.2 form factor, enabling small form-factor M.2 SATA SSDs suitable for thin devices such as tablets and notebooks. M.2 (formerly known as NGFF and defined by PCI-SIG) is a small form factor card that supports a variety of applications including WiFi, WWAN, USB, PCIe and SATA.
Additional key features and enhancements of SATA revision 3.2 include:
- microSSD – standard for embedded solid state drives (SSDs) that enables developers to produce single-chip SATA implementations for embedded storage applications.
- Universal Storage Module (USM) – enables removable and expandable storage for consumer electronic devices. SATA revision 3.2 introduces USM Slim, which reduces module thickness, allowing smaller removable storage solutions.
- DevSleep – the lowest yet level of power management where the drive is almost completely shut down, to meet the requirements of new always on, always connected mobile devices such as Ultrabooks.
- Transitional Energy Reporting – provides the host with detailed information about the SATA storage device, facilitating better power management.
- Hybrid Information – provides a mechanism in which the host can communicate data caching information to the drive, improving solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) performance.
- Rebuild Assist – speeds the data reconstruction process in RAID configurations.