What's going on with the hard drive industry recently? This article is a bit old, yet it seems to have slipped by everyone's attention including the companies in the industry:
SATA II...I Mean SATA-300...I Mean...
"â€œHitachi announces 500GB SATA II driveâ€ reads one headline in the AnandTech forums, a proclamation backed up by Hitachiâ€™s own release of the drive stating that it boasts a â€œcomplete set of SATA II features.â€ One eWeek article is titled â€œSATA II Features Make a Mark at IDFâ€. Addonics currently sells a SATA II PCI-X RAID controller, and LSIâ€™s MegaRAID SATA 300-8X is billed as an â€œeight-port SATA II RAID storage adapter.â€
Thereâ€™s only one problem with all of these items: Thereâ€™s no such thing as SATA II.
â€œThere is no set of specs for â€˜SATA II,â€™â€ says Joe Cousins, vice president of marketing for Bell Microproducts, which sells high volumes of every hard drive brand save Samsung. â€œThereâ€™s nothing that says, â€˜If you have all these things in your drive, itâ€™s SATA II.â€™ Different companies are adding new SATA features at different rates. Like Seagate added hot swappability and NCQ to their drives in the last few months when others did not. But that wasnâ€™t considered SATA II, just an extension of the current SATA. So when a customer calls and asks if you have a SATA II drive, it really doesnâ€™t specify anything.â€
Originally, there was an official SATA II committee, but it was disbanded and reformed as the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). The old committee defined several features, and these went on to become the presumed feature list for a SATA 2.0 spec that never materialized. Still, the SATA II name stuck. The top four features for â€œSATA IIâ€ are native command queuing (NCQ), hot swappable plugging, staggered spin-up (spinning up only one drive in a multi-drive configuration), and a 3 Gb/sec (300 MB/sec) transfer rate.
According to Cousins, Seagate maintains that there is no such thing as SATA II, just as there was no PATA I versus PATA II, and even sent out memos discouraging people from using the moniker. Others are obviously less conservative.
â€œIâ€™ll read you this thing I got from Maxtor,â€ says Cousins. â€œIt reads, â€˜SATA II is the basic serial interface with any of the additional features or extensions that have been defined in the SATA spec.â€™ Things like 300 MB/sec are part of the SATA spec. So itâ€™s confusing.â€
With each passing week, 300 MB/sec is becoming synonymous with SATA II, yet even the SATA-IO notes on its site, â€œThe term SATA II has grown in popularity as the moniker for the SATA 3Gb/s data transfer rate, causing great confusion with customers because, quite simply, itâ€™s a misnomer.â€ All of the â€œSATA IIâ€ features are merely extensions of todayâ€™s SATA spec. This is important because two customers could request SATA II products yet expectâ€”and receiveâ€”completely different things.
Especially in business environments where adherence to IT requirements or bid specifications is critical, make sure you get your terms right, and if someone requests SATA II, spell out the features they need, not the moniker du jour."
So, basically, there is no SATA 2.0 spec, and there never will be since the organization that was putting it together no longer exists. Yet, everywhere you look now, HD manufacturers are advertising SATA II drives. And not surprisingly, they all have different feature sets. Seagate appears to have the most complete feature set, while WD doesn't even advertise NCQ support in their recently announced SATA II drives. Wasn't that a fundamental feature that basically everyone assumed would be required for SATA II when it was still being developed? Of course none of these companies can be wrong, since there is no SATA II, they can basically name their own feature set and call it whatever they want. What kind of farse is that? Is SR planning on posting an article clearing up what is going on with SATA and if there will ever be an official 2nd generation SATA spec? I'm going to puke at the first mention of "Enhanced SATA" out of WD or any other made up new specification from someone else.