Earlier this year, multiple reports suggested that Intel's next-generation motherboard platform would support SATA Express. However, new information seen by VR-Zone indicates that the storage standard "will not be validated on the Intel 9 Series Chipsets." Although the VR-Zone story mentions the high-end Z97 platform specifically, the quoted snippet from the slide references the entire 9-series family. Information leaked this summer points to SATA Express being absent from the chipset accompanying Haswell-E, as well.
SATA Express is part of the Serial ATA 3.2 specification that was ratified in August. The spec introduces updated connectors that support both existing SATA gear and PCIe-based SATA Express devices. Those devices can have as many as two lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity, delivering 16Gbps of bandwidth—a big step up from 6Gbps SATA.
Along with a fatter pipe, SATA Express provides a choice of AHCI or NVM Express host interfaces. AHCI provides legacy compatibility, while NVMe is tuned specifically for high-performance SSDs.
Unfortunately, it looks like Intel's next-gen CPU platforms won't be able to reap the benefits of SATA Express. That's a shame, especially since it could slow the rollout of SATAe devices. I wonder if we'll see third-party peripheral controllers with SATA Express support. Those chips could make 9-series motherboards a little more interesting, at least. Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the tip.
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