This year’s high-end laptops (such as the Macbook and Intel Ultrabooks) are going to be sporting SSDs that connect straight to the PCI Express bus, bypassing SATA altogether.
Although the speed increase will be less jarring than the move from discs of spinning rust to memory chips was, it will be noticeable.
By connecting straight to the bus and skipping the SATA translation layer, PCIe SSDs promise to be about 2 1/2 times faster in sustained, sequential throughput than SATA SSDs. The boost for random I/O, which is more common, will be smaller because changing buses doesn’t do much about latency.
Regardless, the SATA bus was becoming a limitation, so it was only a matter of time before manufacturers decided to bypass it. In laptops there’s a bonus, too: Since PCIe SSDs are a little bit smaller than SATA SSDs, the space it frees up allows them to stuff a slightly bigger battery into the case, for longer run times.
Of course, I want one in a desktop too. If these drives look like a hard drive controller to the host system, that won’t be a problem, and all you’ll need is an adapter to make them fit. Then again, maybe someday soon we’ll start seeing desktop-sized PCIe SSDs that take advantage of the larger form factor to deliver increased storage capacity or other benefits.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.