Silicon Image to launch SATA Host Controller supporting PCI Express

Posted on Wednesday, September 08 2004 @ 19:03 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Silicon Image today debuted the SATALink SiI 3132, the industry's first PCI Express to Serial ATA (SATA) II host controller. Targeted at PC and server motherboards, as well as embedded applications such as set-top boxes (STBs), the SiI 3132 offers full SATA II functionality normally limited to server-class systems, including Native Command Queuing, 3 Gbps SATA signaling and support for port multipliers with Frame Information Structure (FIS)-based switching. All of this advanced functionality is packed into a small 10x10 mm package ideal for space-constrained motherboards-making the SiI 3132 the smallest SATA host controller on the market.

"Silicon Image is the leading supplier of discrete SATA host controllers with more than four million units shipped. With the SiI 3132, we're delivering cost-effective, server-class SATA storage to the desktop and also enabling users to take advantage of the new breed of external SATA drives," stated Dan Cloer, senior director of marketing, storage products for Silicon Image. "Users no longer need to trade off speed for the flexibility and ease of use offered by an external hard drive-they can now have both with external SATA. With its small size, affordability and support for port multipliers with FIS-based switching, the SiI 3132 is poised to enable the widespread deployment of external SATA for users seeking high-perfomance, low-cost external storage to accommodate their growing library of digital content."

The SiI 3132 supports a one-lane 2.5 Gbps PCI Express bus and the 2nd-generation SATA transfer rate of 3.0 Gbps (300 MB/s). The SiI 3132 is fully compliant with the Serial ATA 1.0 specification and supports all SATA II extensions, including Native Command Queuing, enclosure management device support, selectable output strengths for backplanes and hot-plug support. It also supports the SATA port multiplier specification and FIS-based switching, which enables the execution of commands and transfer of data to multiple drives concurrently for unequalled data throughput over a single SATA link. In addition, the SiI 3132 supports ATAPI commands, making it applicable for optical drives.

"SATA has already begun to transform certain areas of multi-user storage, most notably in low-end servers, in networked near-line backup applications and in new content-addressed storage (CAS) systems," said John Monroe, a research vice president at Gartner. "We estimate that more than one million SATA drives were configured in multi-user environments during the first half of 2004. By the end of 2005, SATA will become the dominant standard HDD interface, and by the end of 2007, SATA should achieve 100 percent penetration in all desktop and notebook HDD markets. And the HDD industry should transition from 1.5 Gbps to 3.0 Gbps SATA even more quickly than it is transitioning from parallel to Serial ATA, with 3.0 Gbps SATA accounting for more than 70 percent of all SATA HDD shipments during 2007."

"SATA and PCI Express is an ideal combination for users seeking the highest performance from their desktop and notebook PCs," stated Knut Grimsrud, Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) chairman and Intel senior principal engineer. "Products such as the SiI 3132 that combine PCI-Express with a range of advanced SATA II features like Native Command Queuing, port multiplier capability and 3Gbps signaling deliver storage capabilities to mainstream PCI-Express platforms previously available only in server and networked storage solutions."

The SiI 3132 offers advanced RAID capability through Silicon Image's SATARaidâ„¢ software RAID management utility, which comes bundled with the chip. The SiI 3132 supports RAID 0 and 1 when two drives are connected directly to the chip's two SATA ports. When multiple drives are connected to the SiI 3132 via a port multiplier such as Silicon Image's SiI 3726, RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5 are supported.

Pricing and Availability
The SiI 3132 will be sampling later this month, with volume production scheduled for the first quarter of 2005. The SiI 3132 is packaged as a 10x10mm Quad Flat No-lead (QFN) and priced at $7 in 10K quantities.

Silicon Image will be demonstrating the advanced capabilities of the SiI 3132 at the Intel Developer Forum (booth # 739), being held September 7-9, 2004 in the South Hall of San Francisco's Moscone Center.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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