Samsung has introduced a Serial ATA II hard disk drive that boasts twice the speed of a SATA I hard drive and has other features that company executives believe will translate into brisk sales.
The hard drives, available in 80GB, 120GB and 160GB versions on an 80GB platter, run at up to 3GB per second. The drives have a 7,200 RPM spindle speed, 8.9 millisecond average seek time and an 8MB cache buffer.
The 3GB-per-second speed of the Samsung SATA II drives will be able to deliver a 300MB data rate on the bus.
By providing higher speed on the SATA bus, Samsungs drive will better be able to compete with systems that traditionally have used SCSI and Fibre Channel-based solutions, said Henry Hong, business manager for HPD products in the United States for San Jose, Calif.-based Samsung Electronics.
Samsungs drives also feature NCQ (Native Command Queuing), a feature that allows drives to multitask.
The addition of NCQ—a feature that has been available in SCSI-based products for some time—might just be what prompts many users of SATA I drives to switch to SATA II, said Brian Garrett, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.
“Until now, drives had to finish every command before they could start the next one,” he said. “Now they can accept a queue of commands. Lets say you have to bring up five blocks of data. It can accept them at once and be intelligent about what it does. It could put them in order, for example.”
The lower cost of ATA drives in general—up to half the cost of SCSI and Fibre Channel-based solutions—also may prompt a switch. Samsungs new Serial ATA II hard disk drives range in price from $93 to $150.
“Its more economical and you dont sacrifice too much in performance,” said Albert Kim, national sales manager for storage systems at Samsung Semiconductor. “It provides a real alternative.”
Serial ATA II drives have many potential markets, many of which are already using SATA I drives. OEMs like Dell Computer Corp., IBM and many white box vendors, for example, already are transitioning to SATA and probably will make the leap to SATA II, Garrett said.
Storage vendors are another ripe market. EMC Corp., for example, is developing enterprise-class applications using SATA drives, as are IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance Inc.
“People might buy a compliance application like Veritas/KVS, but they need storage to put it on, which might be EMC storage with SATA drives,” Garrett said. “The goal is to get as much capacity as possible at as reasonable a cost as possible. So there are SATA drives inside, but the front of the storage controller is still Fibre Channel and feels like an enterprise-class system, but they have lowered the dollar per megabyte.”
Still another market for SATA II drives is the gaming market. High-end PCs as well as specialized gaming hardware like the PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube and PS2 are a huge market.
The switch to SATA II drives is inevitable, Garrett said, and Samsungs announcement is just the first of what he expects to be many this year. Hitachi already has announced a SATA II drive, although it has not yet shipped the drive, and companies like Maxtor Corp. and Seagate Technology Inc. probably arent far behind, he said.