We immediately thought the proposed Samsung mini Card standard was a good idea. Now, thankfully, so does official body SATA-IO.
Consequently, we now have a new official HDD and SSD form factor: 'mini-SATA' or 'mSATA' as it will likely become known. At approximately the same size as a business card (30mm x 4.75mm x 50.95mm), mSATA will target ultra portable laptops and netbooks and is likely to be dominated by solid state drives where the reduced size presents far less of a performance constraint. mSATA will support SATA and SATA II interfaces initially, while later SATA 6Gbps adoption seems inevitable.
"As consumers become more reliant on mobile devices, it makes sense to bring the efficiency and speed of SATA technology to this burgeoning highly portable product segment," said SATA-IO present and Intel fellow and director of storage architecture Knut Grimsrud. "Solid-state drives provide a rugged, lightweight and lower power storage solution for these devices, and mSATA is one of the few interfaces that can provide a critical compact connection for these small-form factor SSDs."
Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung (obviously), SanDisk, STEC and Toshiba have all pledged their support and expect others to follow quickly. Interestingly it isn't Samsung which is first to announce an mSATA drive, but Toshiba which follows up the news with the announcement of the first commercial mSATA SSD drive.
30GB and 62GB models will be available, weigh just nine grams and provide read and write speeds of 180MB/sec and 70MB/sec respectively - not a bad starting point! Read and write power consumption is also just 1.3W and 1.8W while when idle usage is just 65mW. As for MTBF that's a monstrous one million hours. Toshiba is also expanding its line of 'half-slim SSD' drives, but I suspect they will soon be superseded by mSATA.
So given that inside the majority of 2.5in SSD drives is fresh air (and therefore wasted space) the arrival of mSATA is extremely welcome. Whether this means smaller devices, more space for larger batteries or both, the benefits are obvious.
Now let's see some laptops!