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PCIe hard drives? You read that right, says WD

Slow storage device jumps onto the SATA Express bus

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WD will demo PCIe-connected disk drives at the Computex tech conference in Taipei, using a SATA Express interface.

SATA Express has been enabled with partners, and is offered on Intel series-9 chipset motherboards. WD says it provides a route to faster speeds and lower power consumption. SATA revision 3.2 delivers 16Gbit/s. PCIe v4.0 provides 15.754Gbit/s per lane; generation-three provided 7.877Gbit/s per lane.

The SATA-IO working group announced it was working on PCIe connectivity in 2011. A specification was unveiled in 2013 and what WD and its partners are showing at Computex is a prototype drive.

WD says legacy SATA drives can be plugged into SATA Express-based computers. It claims: “SATA Express allows cable connections with lower costs, by removing the PCI Express Sync line via SRIS (Separate RefClock with Independent SSC), which lowers the overall cable cost.”

The partners include ASUS and GIGABYTE. According to the marketing bumf, the prototype uses “standard AHCI drivers and is compatible with all known, currently supported client operating system releases.”

We discussed the ASUS 9-series motherboard here.

System builders are told by WD that SATA Express will enable them to access SSDs, SSHDs (hybrid disk+flash drives) and HDDs through a single PCIe bus connection. The flexibility of that should be appealing.

With both Seagate and Western Digital subsidiary HGST offering Ethernet-connected drives, the ways of getting data on and off spinning rust are expanding. Whatever next? Direct Fibre Channel connections?

Computex runs from 3 to 4 June. Check out booth M0410 for the ASUS SATA Express motherboard. ®

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