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6 Gbps SATA drives set for 2009 rollout

Scotts Valley (CA) – Just about at the time when solid state disk drives are running into the limits of the 3 Gbps (Gigabits per second) SATA-II interface, we hear that the next generation, SATA-III, has its first demonstration and is being prepped for introduction later this year. The new interface will double the maximum interface bandwidth from about 275 MB/s (Megabytes) to about 550 MB/s.

Seagate and AMD demonstrated the first SATA 6 Gbps hard disk drives today at the Everything Channel Xchange Conference in New Orleans. And despite the fact that hard drives are generally expected to be much slower than solid state disk (SSD) drives, Seagate said a prototype 6 Gbps Barracuda hard disk drive (HDD) was able to hit sustained data transfer rates of 550 MB/s, which is about five times the performance of today’s fastest hard drives.

Don’t expect 550 MB/s HDDs to become available anytime soon, however. Seagate told TG Daily that hard drives that transfer data at more than 200 MB/s should be common in 2010, and achieve a performance only the fastest SSDs can deliver today. Of course, SSDs may exploit SATA 6 Gbps much more efficiently and hit 500 MB/s data transfer speeds.

The new SATA technology is not quite ready for rollout yet, but is “good enough” for a presentation, we were told. Seagate said that first 6 Gbps devices should become available commercially later this year.