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THE ARRIVAL
OF SERIAL ATA
WHY SETTLE?
TRENDS
INTRODUCING SERIAL ATA
THE SERIAL ATA FEATURE SET: MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
WHY USE PROMISE SERIAL ATA

WHY SETTLE?

The Internet has propelled a whole new generation of data-intensive applications


requiring storage architectures that can scale on the fly and remain available all the
time. With audio/video streaming, web commerce, and data warehousing applications,
to name a few, storage will have to be a scalable network resource that can deliver
capacity and data on the fly.

However, in today’s world of shrinking IT budgets, many companies are forced to settle
for what they can afford. Traditionally, high performance technology was only available to
high-level enterprise companies who were willing and able to dig deep into their corporate
pockets. But if you’re pockets don’t run as deep, should you really have to settle?

Because “It’s ALL About Your Data”, Promise Technology doesn’t believe in settling.

Promise Technology, Inc., the originator and global leader in ATA RAID storage
solutions is committed to its goal of creating and promoting breakthrough affordable
technology that will ensure that you never have to settle again. Promise is dedicated to
providing high performance, reliable solutions at attractive price points. That’s why we
are pioneering the way for support of cost-effective, high performance Serial ATA
architectures by providing highly reliable, mature solutions as Serial ATA products come
to market this year.

TRENDS
ATA, (Advanced
Technology
Attachment), has been the
main storage bus since the
early days of personal
computers.
Continued
improvements in speed
and the relatively low cost
of ATA devices resulted
in dominance in the PC
market. The current
ATA standard is a parallel
interface, meaning
that multiple bits of data
are transmitted at one time.

Advances in high speed


networking coupled with the limitations of the current parallel bus architecture have
created a bottleneck in today’s networks. This has resulted in a shift away from
traditional interfaces in favor of serial connections to the disk drive with the associated
scalability, reliability, and performance benefits

INTRODUCING SERIAL ATA


Designed to meet the needs of networked A side-by-side comparison of a Parallel ATA hard drive (left)
storage, SATA (Serial ATA) was created to and a Serial ATA hard drive (right).
address the increased data rate demand while at
the same time resolving many issues that
prevented today’s ATA interface from being widely used in the enterprise. SATA grew
out of the need to support growing bandwidth requirements that current Parallel ATA
would be unable to maintain in future years.

Serial ATA 3– 600MB/sec Serial ATA can


SCSI 4– 320MB/sec be referred to as
Serial ATA 2– 300MB/sec an evolutionary
SCSI 3– 160MB/sec Serial A ta is 50% faster replacement for
Serial ATA 1– 150MB/sec than Parallel A TA the Parallel ATA
Parallel ATA/100– 100MB/sec physical storage
Parallel ATA/66– 66MB/sec interface. The
new Serial ATA
architecture
introduces a data
communication standard for fast-talking drives, which will effectively increase bandwidth
by 50%, assuring maximum performance. Serial ATA’s point-to-point architecture
directly connects each device to the host via a dedicated link. Each device, therefore,
has the entire bandwidth dedicated to it, so there is no interaction between devices.
Serial ATA eliminates parallel ATA’s master/slave relationship, in which the master
device controls the other slave device on the bus, allowing direct communications with
any device on the bus.

Serial ATA architectures only change the physical interface layer. It conforms to the ATAPI
(AT Attachment Packet Interface) command set, which is the standard used in today’s ATA
drives. It also maintains register and software backward compatibility with Parallel ATA.
No device driver changes are necessary and the Serial ATA architecture is transparent to
the BIOS and the operating system. This means that Serial ATA is software compatible to
parallel ATA drives ensuring a smooth transition from software and driver perspectives,
allowing existing applications to work seamlessly with Serial ATA drives.

The current Serial ATA specification maps out a 10 year growth plan with three
generations of speed enhancements with generation one running at 150 MB/s (to stay
ahead of disk data transfer rate and to remove the bottleneck that may occur with 100
MB/s parallel ATA), followed by 300 MB/s and 600 MB/s respectively.

SERIAL ATA FEATURE SET


Cabling — Current Parallel ATA cables are bulky, as well as being limited to 18 inches in
length. The wide, flat parallel ATA ribbon cables can be difficult to route, and their shape and
bulk can restrict air flow inside a chassis or storage enclosure. Serial ATA cables are much
smaller and can be up to 1-meter (about 39 inches). The smaller serial cable is easier to route
inside the chassis, making them well-suited for storage boxes and high-density server
requirements. The smaller diameter cable can also help improve airflow inside the chassis
and will facilitate future designs of smaller PC systems.

Serial Transmission — Using 8B/10B Serial transmission to transfer data over the serial
cable eliminates crosstalk and other problems that may occur with parallel data transmission.
8B/10B serial transmission is used in numerous technologies including Gigabit Ethernet and
Fibre Channel. This encoding data integrity checking is required during high speed data
transfer.

Data Robustness — Serial ATA will offer more through checking and error correcting
capabilities than are currently available with Parallel ATA. The end-to-end integrity of
transferred commands and data can be guaranteed across the serial bus.

Low ASIC Pin Count — Enables ASIC’s to be smaller, which improves cost-effectiveness on
both devices and hosts.

Software Compatibility — Serial ATA is compatible at the register level with Parallel ATA.
This means Serial ATA requires no existing software and operating systems in order to
function, and it provides backward compatibility with existing operating environments. To
system software, a Serial ATA device is the same as a legacy ATA device. From a software
point of view, this compatibility with legacy hardware ensures an easy transition and faster
acceptance.

Hot Plug — Though Promise has long supported hot plug on the Parallel ATA side with its
patented Sideband Technology, hot plug has not been part of the ATA specification. Serial ATA
allows devices to be hot-plugged and inserted directly into receptacles. The Serial ATA
protocol provides the mechanical and electrical features necessary to allow devices to be
directly inserted and removed while the system is powered.

THE SERIAL ATA FEATURE SET: MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
As you can see, Serial ATA addresses networking issues such as signal integrity,
reduced pin count, low voltage, and improved cable and connector plants for smaller
form factor drives. Such a feature set will prove to make the Serial ATA technology a
viable alternative to SCSI in desktop and server/networked storage markets—all at a
fraction of the cost.

WHY USE PROMISE SERIAL ATA


Promise’s vision for Serial ATA is that its low cost, high reliability and scalable
connectivity will create a vast market for inexpensive networked storage solutions
enabling new applications for RAID protected data. As it has in the past, Promise is
leading the way so that the advantages of Serial ATA RAID will be fully realized across
the whole corporate data set. The Serial ATA specification and architecture align with
Promise’s mission of maximizing user return on investment by providing high
performance, reliable, and available technology that won’t put a dent in your pocket
books.

Promise’s line of Serial ATA products demonstrate a strong commitment to the next
generation of powerful, yet inexpensive storage devices for the next generation of PCs
and servers, creating low cost storage solutions without compromising performance or
reliability, thus leveling the playing fields so that all users have the freedom to compete.

With 14 years of ATA experience, over 10 million ATA ASIC’s shipped in just the last 3
years, and the most mature and reliable ATA RAID Engine in the industry, Promise has
long since established itself as the leader of ATA RAID technology. We work closely with
virtually every major hard drive manufacturer, tier 1 OEM, and motherboard maker in
their ongoing design and test programs, assuring product compatibility and feasibility.

We are committed to promoting


products that provide investment
protection by reducing the cost and
complexity of deploying mission critical
storage services. Also, by developing
and completely owning our own
technology (ASIC, RAID engine,
Drivers, and BIOS) Promise has a clear
and unobstructed view of the progress
being made towards long-term
technology development and insight
into near-term technology transitions
such as Serial ATA.

How did Promise consistently maintain


its leadership position in ATA and ATA
RAID? Simple—by not only meeting our
customers’ expectations but exceeding
them. We plan to do the same for Serial
ATA. By continuing to push forward the
limits of ATA storage performance and reliability, as well as driving the move to Serial
ATA architectures that offer performance boosts and greater design freedoms, Promise
will continue to provide fast, reliable and economical storage solutions well into the
future.

The Promise SATA150 TX4 Controller Promise —It’s ALL About


enables up to four Serial ATA hard Your Data.
drives in your current PC.