sata usm SATA revision 3.1 released by the SATA IO

SATA  6Gbps is all but ubiquitous, but that doesn't stop the SATA-IO to add new features to the standard and revision 3.1 of the SATA spec adds support for a wide range of new features, of which very few are performance related. New features include support for USM, mSATA, several new power management features, improved Trim command support and a few new hardware control features.

SATA  6Gbps is all but ubiquitous, but that doesn't stop the SATA-IO to add new features to the standard and revision 3.1 of the SATA spec adds support for a wide range of new features, of which very few are performance related. New features include support for USM, mSATA, several new power management features, improved Trim command support and a few new hardware control features.

USM stands for Universal Storage Module and it's an addition to the SATA spec that Seagate has been pushing for. In a nutshell it's an external 2.5-inch or less likely a 3.5-inch hard drive fitted in an enclosure that easily slots into a wide range of devices such as TVs, consoles, set-top boxes, computers, docking stations, stereo systems, media players and just about anything else that would benefit from having a hard drive in it. It's meant to be a consumer friendly solution, as the only accessible part of the drive is the rear SATA data and power connectors.

sata usm SATA revision 3.1 released by the SATA IO

In reality USM is pretty much a hard drive dock for hard for consumers, as the whole thing is a bit less intimidating with all the "techy" parts hidden away inside a plastic box. So far the industry uptake isn't exactly huge with of course Seagate backing it, plus a couple of case makers and some companies we've never heard of before. In a way we do hope that USM will take off, as it should allow for consumers to get the full speed advantage of plugging in a SATA hard drive into their device, rather than having to rely on slow USB 2.0 hard drives, at least until USB 3.0 takes over.

By now you're probably familiar with mSATA, it's a tiny connector that looks like mini PCI Express card connector and the two are physically identical. The new addition to revision 3.1 of the SATA spec allows for better auto detection which means that the mSATA slot can be shared with a standard SATA port, as the SATA port would be disabled automatically if an mSATA SSD was installed.

In terms of new power saving features we're looking at Zero-Power Optical Disc Drive which as the name suggest allows the optical drive to power down completely and as such eliminate any power drawn by it. Another power related feature is Required Link Power Management which adds additional power management features to the SATA spec.

A new feature for SSDs is Queued Trim Command which allows the SSD to execute Trim commands without having an impact on the normal operation of the SSD, so in other words the SSD can handle data being written or read at the same time as it's dealing with garbage collection.

Finally the SATA-IO has added some new hardware control features which enabled host identification of "device capabilities" which is said to allow for more effective use of SATA devices by the host.

In as much as all this is good news, we're wondering how far the SATA-IO has gotten on the next major revision of the SATA spec, since as crazy as it is, the SATA 6Gbps specification is already reaching its limits. Get a pair of fast SSDs in RAID and you could at least in theory max out the SATA 6Gbps bus. It's not likely that we'll see a new SATA standard for the next couple of years though, which isn't great news and it's possible we'll see a lot of custom solutions akin to what OCZ is working on until then.

Source: SATA-IO