Report: Intel’s 9-series chipsets won’t support SATA Express

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.

Comments closed
    • WATERCHEMIST
    • 7 years ago

    So….just to get this right…every Mac that ships next year will benefit from PCIe storage while the PC industry is mired in a underperforming legacy storage interface? Ok…great!!

    • hasseb64
    • 7 years ago

    No reason to have TICK / TOCKs anymore.
    SandyBridge –> HasWell is enogh
    Desktop is dying, no drivers at all.
    Mobile is loosing drivers:
    -We have reached 12hours on battery
    -They are slim already
    -Fast enogh for most people.

    • Sahrin
    • 7 years ago

    Intel needs more time to develop a generic firmware interface for these. In the meantime, though, Intel is announcing SSD-Bolt! The newest advance in connection technology, which will be ceaselessly pimped by the tech press for reasons best known to them. Oh yeah, it costs 10x as much as SATA. Intel Inside.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I can’t imagine this is still an attempt to push Tbolt over another connection type… Internally there shouldn’t really be any sort of competition. It is curious why Intel didn’t jump on this right away unless there is something they can’t quite naildown.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Lack of mainstream demand and trying to iron things out before they end-up repeating the whole P67 affair. 😉

        • Kougar
        • 7 years ago

        Lack of mainstream demand sure hasn’t stopped Intel from pushing Thunderbolt, despite licensing costs, $40 cable costs, and silicon chip costs. Acer may not remain the only company to drop Thunderbolt from its systems.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Chicken and the egg dude. It has to start somewhere or it doesn’t start at all.

          • Krogoth
          • 7 years ago

          It will eventually start. There’s simply no push for it, since there’s no killer app.

          Killer app is the critical piece of the puzzle in the whole “Chicken and Egg” equation.

            • Kougar
            • 7 years ago

            I’m not so convinced yet. Thunderbolt has been on the market for over 2 years now.

            It costs more than the device itself to put Thunderbolt in a cheap peripheral. Why make an external drive enclosure or cheap device that costs under $50, when they have to pay for the hardware, a licensing fee for the option, and then the consumer has to buy a cable that costs as much as the peripheral anyway?

            Sub-$100 Thunderbolt devices are not going to ever show up until the cost structure changes, and the current premiums charged for “Thunderbolt” devices on Newegg are simply incredible.

            • Krogoth
            • 7 years ago

            Thunderbolt is the new Firewire.

            It is an external peripheral interface catered to prosumers and enterprise market that demand more bandwidth then what you can get with customer-grade stuff (Serial, USB, eSATA). They are more then willing to pay for the premiums.

      • juzz86
      • 7 years ago

      Nah, just typical Intel chipset lag mate. They’re always a generation behind on the latest. SATA 3, USB 3.0, even SATA 2 and USB 2.0 were all incorporated into the chipset *after* the one the market assumed they’d be in. Business as usual for Intel.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Why is this a problem?

    NVM Express is going take over the enterprise and prosumer market since it is where there’s a need and demand for more bandwidth.

    SATA3 is more than sufficient for mainstream crowd and internal 2.5/3.5″ SSD. AMD is going the same route. The problem is that there’s no killer app that renders SATA3 and USB3 woefully ineffective in the mainstream market. Average Joe and Kid Gamer aren’t moving around 100 GiBs+ worth of data on a daily basis. The people who have a need for this already on the SSD PCIe Express bandwagon and soon NVM Express (specialized form of PCIe meant for solid-state mediums)

    Thunderbolt has nothing to do with it.

      • Pwnstar
      • 7 years ago

      Yes, there should be no further technology developments. We are good with what we have now for the next 100 years. Just stop all research, return the money to the stockholders and turn out the lights.

      /sarcasm

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        Why should Intel should spend billions on R&D to rush out an interface that has no effective utility in the mainstream market in the foreseeable future?

        SATA Express is coming, but there’s no rush for it since demand for it is weak in the mainstream market. The professional crowd are going behind NVM Express as their platform of choice.

        People don’t remember how long it took for SATA to finally replace PATA. It will be the same story for SATA Express.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Until you can bring up the most advanced versions of Adobe’s entire creative suite with the biggest projects that have ever been worked on in a literal blink of an eye, or play Civilization 5 without knowing what any of the loading screens look like, we can all do with faster storage

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        FYI, Civilization 5 is CPU-bound at late-game states not I/O bound.

        I said mainstream demand which is vast majority of the market (mostly average joe types). Demand for more bandwidth on I/O is weak at best, because there’s no killer application for this crowd. Adobe Creative Suite is professional tier stuff. The professional tier already is going with NVM Express as the platform of choice. SATA Express is geared towards the mainstream crowd.

        It is like SCSI versus IDE back in the day.

          • Pwnstar
          • 7 years ago

          That’s right. Civ 5 is very CPU heavy.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    I’m still exclusively rocking PATA, so meh…

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      What’s PATA again?

      [url=http://www.itsimagical.com.ar/reproduccion-animal-mama-pata-50008.htm<]Oh[/url<].

    • WillBach
    • 7 years ago

    SATA Express seems to be most useful in mobile form factors. I’ve only seen it used in laptops where the drives are soldered down. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think there are even aftermarket SATA Express drives available. In the future SATA Express could be a good “sweet spot” between SATA regular and PCIe drives. Of course, that could only be because there’s no chipset support. Who knows? Maybe SATA Express is the next big thing and Intel is delaying the introduction by a year.

      • Dezeer
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t really see a reason to use sata express in mobile environment as there already exists a better connector format in the form of (NGFF) M.2 that brings to the board a single compact connector with bandwidth of 4 × PCIe.

      Edit to make better sense.

        • WillBach
        • 7 years ago

        Oh, I see. I was thinking of NGFF and not SATA Express. Thanks!

    • Kougar
    • 7 years ago

    Is Intel even capable of designing a good chipset anymore?

    Intel was particularly late to the party with USB 3 support, delayed PCIe 3.0 support, and lets not even start about all the problems around X79 and that “X79 refresh”. The P67 chipset defect was a rare event, but then there was the USB connected device errata for all launch day Z87 chipsets… If they delay SATA Express a generation past Broadwell & Haswell-E both, then it seems clear Intel just doesn’t care in the slightest about being competitive in its chipset business.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      Define ‘good’.

      Do you remember VIA?

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Even NVidia chipsets were a bit of a mess

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Even NVidia chipsets were a bit of a mess[/quote<] He said trying to keep a straight face at the absurdity of the understatement.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            I had an NForce 3 setup with an Athlon X2 that ran for months without rebooting, and the only real issue was the crappy Marvell ethernet controller’s drivers.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Which board was that? Most of them used the nVidia NIC back then.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            Might have been a Gigabyte? It was a very long time ago. Definitely had a Marvell chip on it, though.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 7 years ago

            I had the Asus A7N8X Deluxe. The Marvell network controller was much more reliable than the Active Armor afflicted NVidia NIC in the NForce2 chipset.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            I’d wanted an NForce2 chipset for the sound- but that quickly faded.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            That was an optional install (and not used in linux). I had zero issues with NIC on my NF7-s.

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            I still remember having to hack magic constants in some version of the 2.4 kernel to get my Nvidia NIC to work right with the Athlon box I used in grad school… ah the bad ol’ days. How I don’t miss them.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Meh, I was already on the 2.5 development kernels by then and then 2.6.

            • Sahrin
            • 7 years ago

            I think he’s talking about Intel nVidia chipsets, not AMD nVidia chipsets. The nForce chipsets were legendary.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            They were the same chipsets with different buses…

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          Can’t say I ever had a problem with the Nforce 2, 3, 570 or 780a chipsets. Had far more issues with the AMD chipsets personally.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Intel just doesn't care in the slightest about being competitive in its chipset business.[/quote<] Competitive against ... AMD? AMD took forever to get to PCIe Gen3. There is zero talk about AMD offering SATA Express anytime soon. AMD got to USB3 first, but Intel's eventual implementation was superior.

        • Kougar
        • 7 years ago

        Competitive in general… new chipset features like USB 3, SATA 3, and PCIe 3 each have driven a lot of consumers to upgrade systems they otherwise would’ve held onto. Even Intel should be able to see that and would want to make an effort to get new interfaces integrated into its chipsets if just for that reason alone.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      Why design a new “chipset” at all? Southbridges are on the way out. AMD doesn’t add new features that way, either. They’re integrated into the CPU.

      Atom and Jaguar don’t have a southbridge. It will only be included with future CPUs if it can reduce their manufacturing cost.

      Once there’s a new version of USB, that will be the final nail in the coffin.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Intel chipsets have been solid for over a decade. It is the reason why third-parties never gain any significant traction in Intel’s realm. It doesn’t mater as much anymore as mainstream systems have been moving towards SoAC platforms. The “traditional” Northbridge/Southbridge setup moved towards the enterprise market which are more conservative on accepting more standards and features.

      • the
      • 7 years ago

      Competitive? Who is competing with Intel with regards to chipsets? They’re the sole provider for Intel CPU’s now. AMD provides chipsets for their own platform but hasn’t launched anything new for the AM3+ platform in years and FM2+ is getting a variation of what was already available for vanilla FM2 from last year.

      Intel is flip-floping about socketed Broadwell chips and providing a MCM’s with the CPU + chipset for the ultra mobile market. This makes me wonder if SkyLake or its successor will even have an independent chipset. I’d start preparing to Intel to release various SoC’s using the same die but distinct IO features sets (ie more USB 3.0 ports on premium SKU’s etc.) Due to the nature of the server market, it looks like SkyLake-E will continue to have an independent chipset.

    • willmore
    • 7 years ago

    Same thing I said at PCPer:
    So help me, if they come out with some kind of Intel only interconnect to replace this, I’m going to pop a vein.

    • WasabiVengeance
    • 7 years ago

    I can see why they wouldn’t bother. It seems like for spinning disks, SATA is already way faster than it needs to be aside from when reading from cache; and for SSDs, PCIe is better in every way anyway. More vendors than just Apple and Samsung are using PCIe SSDs, and maybe Intel knows that many more manufacturers will be following suit.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      SATAe is effectively a standardized interface for PCIe SSDs. It just uses smaller and easier to deal with connectors that are closer to what we are used to for regular SSDs instead of requiring an expansion card that goes into a traditional PCIe slot.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        Not exactly,

        SATA Express = combining all of the previous SATA standards and throwing them under a single interface that can scale up. If you have a entry-level SSD or HDD. You use an 1x SATA Express slot or 1x portion of a larger SATA Express slot. If want to use a faster SSD. You use have to get a larger SATA Express slot (4x, 8x and so on). Since SATA Express delivers power over the same slot, you can power an external device directly without the need of a separate cable (eSATA’s biggest weakness).

        NVM = PCIe Express modified for the needs of solid-state media. It is mostly on the firmware and software level so there’s no need for hacks and other tricks to make a PCIe SSD card bootable. It is going to be primarily an internal interface. It is marketed towards the enterprise/prosumer world.

        SATA Express = successor to SATA

        NVM = spiritual successor to SCSI

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Well, that’s a shame. And here I would have considered a 9 series chip set with Broadwell (if that’s what it’s for? Intel chip set/CPU roadmaps are murky) with SATAe as the killer feature.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t know if it’s due to technical issues with Intel’s silicon or due to a chicken & egg problem: To validate the platform you need SATAe devices to test for validation, but nobody wants to build SATAe devices without a commercially available platform that complies with SATAe.

        • UberGerbil
        • 7 years ago

        Intel is in the SSD business, so that really shouldn’t be a problem. And if it works out that only Intel-branded SSDs work, and therefore define the “standard” so much the better for them, right?

        • zenlessyank
        • 7 years ago

        I know the last time I built a hard drive,I checked what the latest SATA standards were so I could make a drive that worked with what was standardized. Else I would have been a fool to make a drive that would NOT work with the existing spec.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Broadwell is going to be a refined Haswell with a greater emphasis on portables platforms. It is going to be like the jump from Sandy to Ivy.

    • Stickmansam
    • 7 years ago

    I’m assuming that DDR4 will still be supported on Haswell-E

      • James296
      • 7 years ago

      well they’ve already said X99 would support DDR4, which is what Haswell-E is suppose to be on (along with the “new” socket 2011-3)…

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    The conspiracy theorist in me believes Intel wants to kill or stall SATAe and push thunderbolt instead.

      • Helmore
      • 7 years ago

      That’s a really weird conspiracy. Thunderbolt isn’t meant as an internal bus AFAIK. Not like SATA Express is.

        • UnfriendlyFire
        • 7 years ago

        But SATA Express can be used externally…

        And I don’t think Intel is that interested in the SSD market.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    The “will not be validated” bit is very interesting language. The first X79 chipsets supported PCIe 3.0, but Intel never officially “validated” PCIe 3.0 due to the fact that the platform launched before there were video cards and other peripherals on the market that used the new standard. This might be a similar situation where there’s no official support even though the hardware is there and it could be possible to get the SATAe functioning.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      PCI-e 3.0 was “validated” on the x79 but only on the Xeons.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        *3.0

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    AMD to the rescue!!!???

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      Sure, if you want to switch platforms twice in one year (FM2+ and its associated chipsets don’t do SATA express).

      [Edit: well I’m sure the usual suspects are downthumbing me just because, but I’d love to see that powerpoint from AMD where they show SATA express support… I mean they just had a huge conference about all their next-generation platforms, so I’m sure the announcement was in there.. right?]

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Some Camembert with that whine..?

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          I just want to see more of those AMD powerpoints we’ve been seeing so much of lately…

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Presented by Mark Paperlaunchmaster!

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            Oh.. you have no idea… SemiAccurate is kind of like the broken clock that’s right twice a day. When a guy other than Charlie writes the articles, they occasionally trip over something interesting:

            Like one powerpoint from February of 2012 that predicted a 1050 GFlop performance target for Kaveri…
            Compared to the powerpoint from this week at 856GFlops…

            Interestly: [url<]http://semiaccurate.com/2013/11/12/amd-misses-expectations-kaveri/[/url<]

            • nanoflower
            • 7 years ago

            Was that based on the idea that TSMC and Global Foundries would have a 28nm versions of the APUs available by now? I think that failure has hurt AMD quite a bit in comparison to Intel.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            You mean “20nm”?

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Hmm.. Thomas Ryan is gonna get fired soon for saying something bad about AMD. I think this is his second “strike” already

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