Is The End of SATA Near?

For some time now, we’ve seen little changes in the performance of SATA-based storage. While prices for these products have dropped considerably over the last few years, their speeds remain largely unchanged. Couple this with PCIe – based NVMe storage performing much better than ever before – costing less and having higher capacities – many people believe that these slower and more outdated products are on their way out.

SATA drives were also hindered by two factors: rotation speed and AHCI, similar to how optical media was always limited by disc rotation speed. Mechanical, spinning hard drives suffered from the same issue as optical media because discs couldn’t be rotated much faster without breaking down. Though these discs could reach higher speeds than DVDs could ever hope for, they still maxed out at around 15,000 RPM.

Mechanical drives still maintain one advantage over flash memory – total storage space. Even though SSDs have been outpacing HDDs in capacity for years now, HDDs will always retain some form of upper hand due to their low price point – which is what makes them such a popular option for consumers looking for cheap yet abundant storage. In spite of this, many HDD manufacturers expect that it won’t be long before demand for HDDs will dwindle as flash memory continues to advance at an alarmingly quick pace; but so far, the only company who seems confident about continuing to produce mechanical disks is Seagate.

Solid state drives are a vastly different story from regular hard drives. When SATA arrived in 2003, it was made for rotating hard disks – which wasn’t great considering few people used them back then anyway. The original versions of the protocol worked at 150MB/s and 300MB/s respectively; but when SATA III came out in 2009, it increased speeds to 600MB/s and helped open up an avenue for manufacturers using SSD’s to make products more cost-effective. However, with today’s technology shifting towards PCIe and NVMe storage devices, standards need to change too because they’re much faster than anything else currently on the market right now – topping out at 2GB per second!

How will SATA drives be affected by all this? Well, it’s easy to believe they are near extinct after seeing companies like Sabrent announce their 8TB M.2 NVMe Drive and Apple discontinue its use entirely on their newest MacBook Pro 16. But there’s good news – new advancements in Solid State Storage manufacturing which brings us Quad Layer Cell (QLC) promises even faster speeds and higher capacities than we’ve seen before!

A great way to see what the future holds for today’s markets would be looking at last year’s statistics, with prices falling and newer tech developments being made such as expansion of production methods. By 2019, PCIe storage had already gained a little over 50% market share when it comes to solid state drives (SSDs). It is important to note that this includes enterprise data too – but it still shows where things are going.

So does this mean that SATA is barely breathing? Maybe, but never has there been a single technology to fade away gradually rather than all at once. Despite the entire industry shying away from optical media, our own customers still commonly request external USB drives for legacy purposes or backups. We even have people requesting FireWire cards here and there; ones who are about ten years out of date. Even though SATA may become less popular over time because of things like super high capacity mechanical hard-drives and low cost SSD’s, it will take a long while before we can say this idea belongs in the past.

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