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I'm really impressed by some of the reviews on the ssd drives that are 6gb/s capable. I'm in the market for a laptop and it seems clear from this article that ssd technology should be a major priority for me, so I would think going from SATA II to 6gb/s would also be important.

My question is, are there any laptops out there that can run 6gb/s ssd sata drives at their full potential (not just "support")?

Some additional good info would be:

  • What is the best way to tell whether a notebook can run them fully or not?
  • If such notebooks are not available yet, how long will it be?

UPDATE: for clarity, I'm looking for revision III SATA as described here.

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closed as too localized by sblair, Sathya Jan 15 '12 at 13:52

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7 Answers

SATA-III ports are part of the new Sandy Bridge chipset, for both desktop and mobile chipsets. From Intel's website, they are supported on laptops with the QM67, QS67, HM65, UM67, and HM67 chipset (which covers nearly all modern Sandy Bridge laptops).

From the From the Intel 6-Series Chipset datasheet, these chipsets have support for SATA-III devices on two PCH (platform controller hub) ports (0 and 1). It is up to the laptop manufacturer to include more then those two (up to six in total), given the following caveat:

The PCH has two integrated SATA host controllers that support independent DMA operation on up to six ports and supports data transfer rates of up to 6.0 Gb/s (600 MB/s) on up to two ports while all ports support rates up to 3.0 Gb/s (300 MB/s) and up to 1.5 Gb/s (150 MB/s). [...] PCH supports the Serial ATA Specification, Revision 3.0.

It is worth mentioning that no laptop currently supports SATA-III externally (e.g. through eSATA). The latest Intel chipset only supports SATA-II for external SATA devices (again, see the datasheet for more details).

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I was wondering how/why Intel converted 3.0 Gb/s to 300 MB/s, but then I learned that SATA uses 8b/10b encoding, where each byte is actually mapped to 10 bits instead - which is what the SATA specification states... I figured I'd post this in-case someone was scratching their head like I was :) –  cp2141 Jul 8 '11 at 2:50
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I have not seen any SATA 3 laptops yet, however, by the time we have drives that can actually use that speed, any laptop on the market today will most likely be out dated and pretty much useless.

Any laptop running hardware from the past year or so, (Core I range), should be SATA 2 6GB/s, however, this is just the theoretical maximum - .

Looking at the hard drive you linked to, it says SATA 2 6GB/s, but the actual specifications are:

Sequential Access - Read: 355MB/sec (SATA 6Gb/s) 265MB/sec (SATA 3Gb/s)

Sequential Access - Write: 75MB/sec (SATA 6Gb/s) 75MB/sec (SATA 3Gb/s)

Which, is around 6% of the maximum for read and just over 1% of the maximum for write.

The best way to tell is to ask the manufacturer or look in the specification sheet of the laptop.

As for when they will be mainstream, how long is a piece of string! Intel's current flagship mobile chipsete only supports 3GB/s, so it is unlikely that we will see mobile SATA 3 any time soon.

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The drive is SATA III not II. Sata II is not 6gb/s. Revision 3 is: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_ATA#Revisions –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Jan 18 '11 at 15:26
Yeah, sorry, I mis-read... long day and another job to get to! –  William Hilsum Jan 18 '11 at 16:10
Your percentages are also wrong. You have confused the GB vs Gbit. Read the first paragraph of the SATA III section here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… "Solid-State Drives have already saturated the SATA 3 Gbit/s limit[...]" –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Jan 18 '11 at 16:46
Lol... I am overworked today - sorry... but still, even at gigbit/s, it still isn't using it to the fullest. –  William Hilsum Jan 18 '11 at 18:12
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I was looking the same but why will it have a different performance if sata 2 is 3gb and this SSD have just 600mb/s 500mb/s, is it necessary to have actual full performance to have sata 3 when with actual sata 2 we dont reach its speed limit?

Sequential Access - Read 355MB/sec (SATA 6Gb/s) 265MB/sec (SATA 3Gb/s) Sequential Access - Write 75MB/sec (SATA 6Gb/s) 75MB/sec (SATA 3Gb/s)

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The problem is that you're not taking into account the difference between the byte and the bit. 3Gb is actually 375MB (note the lowercase b and uppercase B--lowercase is bit, upper is byte), which is right at the threshold. –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Feb 22 '11 at 0:20
Actually, SATA-spec uses an 8b/10b encoding to transfer data, so there's actually 10 bits mapped to each "byte" here... So the actual maximum bandwidth is 150 Mb/s, 300 Mb/s, and 600 Mb/s for SATA 1.0 through 3.0 specifications. –  cp2141 Jul 8 '11 at 2:48
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At the time question was asked a Revision 3 SATA (6Gb/s) capable laptop did not exist nor did a hard drive fast enough to take full advantage of the speed.

Fast forward 4 months and you have Apple's MacBook Pro refresh which contains a Sata 3 controller along with the new assortment of Sata 3 SSDs like the OCZ Vertex 3.

enter image description here

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I recently purchased the MSI FX720

Core i5 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 6GB DDR3 RAM Upgraded SSD Sata III hybrid Graphics

It is fast and with the SSD getting 475MB/s read and write speeds.

Any Sandy Bridge laptop should have a Sata III controller now a days.

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Based on my understanding, and after reading all the comments here, it sounds like SATA revision 3.0 will definitely improve disk I/O performance since SATA revison 2.0 offers a maximum of "300 MB/s" (or 286 MiB/s) and SSD's are known to go beyond those numbers. See some SATA rev 3.0 SSD's that break 500MB/s.

I wanted to try to add a little more clarity to the transmission rate of SATA. There seem to be two confusing factors:

  1. The 8b/10b encoding which has been referred to a few times here.
  2. Unit differences between Gibibit (Gibit) and Gigabit (Gbit) (the former is used in computer science, the latter is part of the SI metric system and also used for marketing computer parts).

I mention point #2 because normally when we all download files, most applications (and the computer science community at large) are using prefixes based on powers of 2, and not powers of 10. For example, when I download a 5 MB file, it is normally 5 * 1024 * 1024 = 5,242,880 bytes. Compare this result against 5 * 1000 * 1000 = 5,000,000 bytes. Thus, the correct notation for that file download should actually be "5 MiB," but it may be a lost cause trying to get laypeople to learn this difference; everyone is accustomed to using "MB" when they might mean "MiB."

Computer part manufacturers marketing teams have used this to their advantage since they can claim a hard drive is "500 GB" (500,000,000,000 bytes) when in reality the operating system will detect it as "465 GB."

The SATA revision 2.0 Wikipedia documentation (if correct) states that:

With a native transfer rate of 3.0 Gbit/s, and taking 8b/10b encoding into account, the maximum uncoded transfer rate is 2.4 Gbit/s (300 MB/s).

Here we are using the SI metric system, where "2.4 Gbit/s" means "2.4 Gigabits per second" and not "2.4 Gibibits per second." Why? Because it is obvious they are using powers of 10 to convert from "2.4 Gbit/s" to "300 MB/s": (2.4 / 8) * 1000 = 300 (megabytes). What can be a little confusing here is that most computer applications probably work in terms of mebibytes and not megabytes. The conversion here is that 300 MB/s = 286 MiB/s, and it is this latter value which the computer user will probably experience.

How did I convert 300 MB to 286 MiB? I only know how to do this the long way: (300 * 1000 * 1000) / 1024 / 1024.

Moving on to the encoding: With that in place, the way I look at it (correct me if I'm wrong) is that only 80% of the raw SATA throughout (or "native interface") can actually be used. Why? Because for every byte of data I transfer (8 bits) SATA actually converts it into 10 bits and then sends it off (the encoding process). The 80% comes from the arithmetic: 8 / 10 = 0.8 (as in 8b/10b encoding). For example: 80% of 3.0 is 2.4; or 80% of 6.0 is 4.8. The other 20% is overhead.

Now the conversion process:

  • For SATA rev 2.0:
    • 3.0 Gigabit/s * 80% = (2.4 / 8) GB/s = 0.3 GB/s = (0.3 * 1000) MB/s = 300 MB/s.
  • For SATA rev 3.0:
    • 6.0 Gigabit/s * 80% = (4.8 / 8) GB/s = 0.6 GB/s = (0.6 * 1000) MB/s = 600 MB/s.

To restate my initial comment, we all know that SSD's perform faster than 300 megabytes/second (which is the cap for SATA rev 2.0). It would seem advantageous to me to reach for SATA rev 3.0 which allows for 600 megabytes/second of actual usage (with the SATA overhead already accounted for).

I am open to being corrected! I don't know much about SSD technology so I may have missed something. :-)

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ASUS Zenbook of UX series seems to support SATA revision 3.0, although it is ultralight netbook so a bit limited in other components.


and some Fujitsu models too ...



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Hey, you shouldn't be answering this! Don't you know it was closed because nobody will every be helped by it? Er, that's what the brilliant Superuser moderators think anyway "This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet" Actually, I'm being sarcastic. I appreciate your answer. –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Jan 15 '12 at 20:41
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