Get ready for mini-SATA


— 1:10 PM on September 21, 2009

Small, netbook-bound solid-state drives often use PCI Express Mini connectors, but their successors could boast a new type of Serial ATA connector. The Serial ATA International Organization has announced the development of a new low-profile SATA connector dubbed mini-SATA.

The mini-SATA, or mSATA, connector should find its way into notebooks and netbooks alike. However, SATA-IO adds that the new spec will be "particularly beneficial for manufacturers planning to incorporate small form factor SSDs (approximately the size of a business card) in portable PC devices."

mSATA will map Serial ATA signals "onto an existing small form factor connector," and it will support both 150MB/s and 300MB/s transfer rates.

The SATA-IO Cable and Connector Working Group, which includes Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, SanDisk, STEC, and Toshiba, is currently overseeing the mSATA specification's development. Toshiba has already announced mSATA modules built using 32-nm multi-level-cell NAND flash memory. And it's posted a photo of one:

The module on the left features the same slim SATA connector as typical mobile hard drives, while the one on the right has the new mSATA connector. No contest there; the latter is considerably smaller.

Toshiba says these two drives will be available with 30GB and 62GB capacities after mass production kicks off in October. Top speeds will be 180MB/s for sequential reads and 80MB/s for sequential writes.

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