Event Coverage

COMPUTEX 2014: WD Prototype SATA Express Drive Benchmarked

By Michael Low & Team HardwareZone - 5 Jun 2014

COMPUTEX 2014: WD Prototype SATA Express Drive Benchmarked

ASRock's setup was based on its Z97 Extreme9 motherboard running on Intel Core i7-4790 and 32GB Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3 2400 RAM.

WD became the first storage manufacturer in the world to showcase a working SATA Express drive at COMPUTEX 2014. Since the announcement, we've spotted the prototype SATA Express WD Black drive at various motherboard brand booths, including ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI. However, at the ASRock booth, we noticed they had an actual benchmark running for some preliminary numbers to gauge its actual performance. Note that the SATA 3.0 spec has a maximum of bandwidth of 6Gbps (roughly 0.6 - 0.7GB/s). SATA Express is a pure PCIe interface that comprises of dual PCIe lanes. Since the Intel Z97 chipset is based on PCIe 2.0, a 2x PCIe 2.0 SATA Express setup should theoretically allow up to 1GB/s of bandwidth. If PCIe 3.0 lanes are used, it is possible to reach up to 2GB/s.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers we talked to do not see SATA Express drives becoming commercially available till 2015. Because of this, you'll probably only see SATA Express support on flagship motherboards. Some, such as MSI, only has onboard SATA Express featured on one out of the 26 boards in their new Intel 9 Series lineup, the Z97S SLI PLUS.

The prototype WD Black SATA Express drive seen at COMPUTEX 2014 is a hybrid 4TB HDD/128GB SSD.

At 1,075MB/s transfer rate, it would seem that WD actually managed to utilize the 1GB/s bandwith offered by current-generation SATA Express.