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A growing number of organizations are deploying solid state drives (SSDs) to accelerate data storage performance. They can choose SSD storage solutions with one of three interfaces: SATA, SAS, or PCIe. Each interface has advantages and limitations and brings different strengths to a variety of applications.
SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. Because SATA is limited to 32 outstanding requests and is less scalable than other interfaces, it is optimized for lighter workloads like those typically found on desktop PCs and embedded applications. Maximum SATA transfer speeds are currently 6Gb/s, and there are no plans for increased speeds. SATA devices can be used in SAS hosts, but SAS devices cannot be used with SATA hosts due to the configurations of pins and slots. SATA devices offer the best price per gigabyte for smaller workloads where maximum speed is not required. SanDisk offers SATA client SSDs for both consumer and OEM applications.
SAS stands for Serial Attached SCSI and is the traditional interface for enterprise storage. It can handle up to 256 outstanding requests and is highly scalable. Because of broad industry support, the market for SAS SSDs benefits from strong investment by SSD manufacturers, including SanDisk. SAS SSDs are compatible with contemporary RAID architecture. For applications that demand high performance, SAS SSDs are a logical choice, offering support for 6Gb/s speeds today and a clear roadmap for 12Gb/s speeds and beyond. SanDisk offers workload-optimized Lightning 6Gb/s SAS Enterprise SSDs in a range of capacities to meet the widest variety of data center applications.
PCIe stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. As the name implies, PCIe was designed as an I/O interface between various peripheral components inside a system. Unlike SAS and SATA, the PCIe is designed to be an I/O expansion interface and not a storage interface; these cards require a driver to function, so they are not widely used as primary storage.
Of the three interface types, PCIe connectors are the fastest and sit closest to the CPU, making them ideal for I/O intensive application acceleration or as a caching solution. SanDisk offers Lightning PCIe Enterprise Solid State Accelerators (SSAs) for these reasons. Today's second-generation PCIe interfaces offer speeds up to 5GT/s (gigatransfers/second) with a roadmap to 8GT/s and beyond. As the PCIe becomes more popular for performance acceleration in servers and workstations, manufacturers are working to improve the PCIe interface to meet the storage and serviceability requirements for the enterprise.