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Serial ATA market on the rise

Posted: 02 Jun 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:serial ata? sata? iscsi? gigabit ethernet? fibre channel?

Gartner's Jeremy Donovan believes that there will be a decent Serial ATA market this year, with the crossover to Parallel ATA occuring next year.

Jeremy Donovan is chief analyst at Gartner Dataquest.
Wow, these are exciting times in storage! The transition of Fibre Channel from 1Gbps to 2Gbps is in full force. And iSCSI is coming of age with Intel's introduction of a $695 GbE plus iSCSI adapter card. Even more interesting is the crackle of excitement surrounding the rollout of serial advanced technology attachment (serial ATA or SATA). In fact, early market entrant Silicon Image announced in March that the company has shipped more than 1 million Sata controllers.

SATA is not just cool technology; it provides tangible benefits to end-users and OEMs. For PC end-users, SATA offers an evolution to rising hard-drive performance without a marked price impact. The SATA 1.0 specification offers throughput of 150Mbps, slightly outstripping bleeding-edge parallel ATA (PATA) at 133Mbps. With a 10-year road map, SATA will offer 300Mbps access in the SATA II Phase 2 release and 600Mbps access in III. To enterprise-class storage end-users, the storage technology offers a lower-cost alternative to SCSI.

New technologies do not fly unless they help OEMs. SATA improves airflow in the box and cuts power consumption by replacing bulky PATA ribbon cables with low-voltage serial cables.

The development of the SATA market has not gone unnoticed by semiconductor vendors. In fact, the market is fast approaching hypersaturation much the way switch-fabric ICs, NPUs, backplane interconnect ICs and WLAN chipsets have. Vendors that have announced chips include Adaptec, Agere, Broadcom, Intel, LSI Logic, Marvell, Silicon Image, and Vitesse.

The SATA semiconductor market will approach $1 billion in 2006. Of that, about $850 million will be concentrated in HDD controller SoCs. Existing vendors of PATA HDD SoCs will likely take advantage of that opportunity.

The two other pieces of the SATA semiconductor market include PATA to SATA bridges used in PATA hard drives and SATA host controller chips that provide the host interface to the disk drive's SoCs. The PATA-to-SATA bridge chip market will be a niche that will likely exist only this year as drive vendors race to build Sata-compatible solutions.

Though there will be a decent SATA market this year, the crossover relative to PATA will occur in 2004. After that, there is no looking back.

- Jeremey Donovan

Chief Analyst

Gartner Dataquest Inc.

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