Ladies and gentlemen I give you SATA 6Gb/s. Yeah, it's not really that exciting, is it? Especially when you see that the first SATA 6Gb/s drive we've got is Seagate's Barracuda XT 2TB, a traditional rotational disk drive spinning platters like thoroughly old school circus acts, only with faster theoretical transfer rates.
This new interface has been primarily introduced to deal with the increased performance of SSDs, now almost saturating the SATA 3Gb/s transfer limit of 300MB/s.
On the flip side, standard HDDs though are only just about saturating the 150MB/s limit of the first generation SATA interface.
You'd think it wasn't much cop for your traditional rotational drives, except for the fact that it significantly increases the performance across the in-built memory controllers. This is most ably demonstrated in the increased burst speeds of the Barracuda XT.
We thought the Caviar Black we checked out last month had some solid figures, but Seagate's drive beats it by almost 100MB/s. When you consider that our new favourite SSD, Kingston's 40GB drive, based on Intel's X18, clocks in at just under 200MB/s that's doubly impressive.
Burst speed aside though the new interface does relatively little for the traditional drive. True, there are some speed bonuses if you're into such things as RAID, but for the solitary drive it's not all that.
We tested the Barracuda XT on both SATA 2 and SATA 3 connections with the only tangible difference being the burst speeds we've already covered. Game and OS load times increased by a couple of seconds when dropped down to the older interface, but read and write speeds were largely unchanged.
Still, it's bloody fast for a HDD, but then so was the WD Caviar Black, and that didn't come with the £40 premium for being a new SATA 6Gb/s drive.
And therein lies the rub; if it's performance you're after then it's all about the SSD, and for capacity the traditional SATA 3Gb/s drives are more than enough.
The real tester is going to be when we get SATA 6Gb/s SSDs, but for now save your pennies and stick with the old school.
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