When did SATA 3 come out?

SATA 3, also known as SATA 6Gbps or SATA III, refers to the third generation of the Serial ATA interface used for connecting storage devices like hard drives and SSDs to a computer’s motherboard. SATA 3 was introduced in 2009 and represented a major leap forward in SATA technology and performance.

The History Behind SATA 3

The original SATA 1.0 specification was introduced in 2001 by a group of industry partners known as the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). SATA provided a serial replacement for the long-standing Parallel ATA (PATA) standard, also known as IDE, offering faster transfer speeds of 1.5 Gbit/s.

In 2004, SATA 2.0 or SATA II arrived, doubling the maximum bandwidth to 3 Gbit/s. This allowed hard drives to begin approaching speeds that could saturate the original SATA 1.0 interface.

By 2008, SSDs were gaining popularity in the consumer market and 3 Gbit/s SATA was proving limiting. Hard drive capacities were also continuing to grow, demanding faster interfaces. The SATA-IO released the SATA 3.0 specification in mid-2009 to address these needs.

Key Details of the SATA 3.0 Spec

The SATA 3.0 specification increased theoretical maximum bandwidth from SATA 2.0’s 3 Gbit/s to 6 Gbit/s, a 2x speed improvement. It provided several other key upgrades:

  • Compatibility with SATA 1.0 and 2.0 devices
  • Compatible with PCI Express 2.0
  • Support for Native Command Queueing (NCQ) streaming commands
  • Utilized the PCIe Gen2 interface and Low Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS)

The updated speed and features unlocked the potential for much faster SSDs and multi-terabyte hard drives. The interface was designed to far exceed what the fastest mechanical hard drives could handle to accommodate future speed increases.

Initial SATA 3.0 Adoption and Products

The first SATA 3.0 capable chipsets were released by major manufacturers like Intel and AMD in the second half of 2009, along with compatible motherboards.

Seagate introduced one of the first consumer-focused SATA 3.0 hard drives in May 2009, the Barracuda XT, and continued expanding their SATA 3.0 lineup in 2010. SSD manufacturers quickly followed suit with SATA 3.0 products like the OCZ Vertex 2.

First generation SATA 3.0 SSDs and HDDs were limited to around 3.0 Gbit/s due to the technology at the time, but still provided a big boost over SATA 2.0. As implementations improved, consumer devices soon approached the 6.0 Gbit/s theoretical limit.

When Did SATA 3.0 Become Common and Mainstream?

Adoption of SATA 3.0 capable motherboards and drives ramped up significantly in 2010 and 2011. By 2011, the majority of new desktops and laptops shipped with SATA 3.0 ports and consumers could choose from many SATA 3.0 HDD and SSD options for upgrades and new builds.

From an HDD perspective, drives over 2TB started to become more common. This transitioned over time until virtually all consumer hard drives required SATA 3.0 to take advantage of their full bandwidth.

For SSD adoption, the transition took longer. The earliest SATA 3.0 SSDs carried a price premium and smaller SATA 2.0 SSDs remained popular for budget builds throughout the early 2010s. As prices dropped and higher capacity SATA 3.0 SSDs became more affordable, they quickly took over the market.

By 2015, it was difficult to find new motherboards or drives still using the SATA 2.0 standard. SATA 3.0 became ubiquitous for all modern storage devices. Even today, it remains the dominant standard for interfacing SSDs and HDDs in typical consumer desktops and laptops.

SATA 3.1 and Beyond

An incremental update called SATA 3.1 added the new SATA Express connector for interfacing with PCIe SSDs, along with support for the compact M.2 form factor. However, adoption of SATA Express was limited. M.2 quickly became the preferred interface for connecting PCIe and NVMe SSDs.

In 2017, SATA 3.2 added support for the rebuilt Native Command Queuing feature also known as NCQ TRIM to improve background performance. SATA 3.3 later extended queued trim command support across port multipliers.

No further SATA revisions have been published beyond 3.3 as of late 2022. However, development of the core SATA 3.0 specification continues, with new features still occasionally added via official errata updates.


In summary, SATA 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps was officially introduced in mid-2009 as the third generation SATA specification. It provided a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 6 Gbit/s, a 2x increase over the previous SATA 2.0 standard.

Adoption of SATA 3.0 capable motherboards and matching hard drives and SSDs ramped up significantly in 2010 and 2011. By 2015, SATA 3.0 had virtually replaced SATA 2.0 to become the ubiquitous storage interface for modern desktop and laptop PCs.

Today, SATA 3.0 remains the dominant standard for connecting SSDs and HDDs. New incremental updates like SATA 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 have added features, but not increased base bandwidth further. SATA 3.0 at 6 Gbit/s continues to serve the majority of consumer storage needs in 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was SATA 3 officially released?

The SATA 3.0 specification was officially published and released in May 2009 by the SATA International Organization (SATA-IO).

What was the first SATA 3 hard drive?

One of the first consumer focused SATA 3 hard drives was the Seagate Barracuda XT, released in May 2009 alongside the finalization of the SATA 3.0 specification.

When did motherboards start supporting SATA 3?

Intel and AMD launched the first SATA 3.0 supporting chipsets in 2009. Major motherboard manufacturers followed in late 2009 and early 2010 with boards featuring SATA 3.0 ports.

When did SATA 3 become the standard?

By 2011 the majority of new desktop and laptop computers shipped with SATA 3.0 support. By 2015, SATA 3.0 had virtually replaced the previous SATA 2.0 standard across new motherboards and storage devices in the consumer market.

Is SATA 3 still used today?

Yes, SATA 3.0 remains the dominant interface for connecting storage drives like SSDs and HDDs in modern PCs as of late 2022. Faster alternatives like PCIe and M.2 SSDs are available but have not replaced SATA 3.0 completely.

Comparative Timeline of SATA Generations

Version Max Speed Year Released
SATA 1.0 1.5 Gbit/s 2001
SATA 2.0 3 Gbit/s 2004
SATA 3.0 6 Gbit/s 2009

Early Reviews of SATA 3.0 Performance

When first introduced, SATA 3.0 enabled a big jump in speed over the previous SATA 2.0 interface. Here are some extracts from early reviews showcasing the performance benefits:

“Equipped with the latest SATA 6Gbps interface, the OCZ Vertex 2 SSD leaves current 3Gbps SSDs behind with doubled sequential read and write speeds of up to 285MB/s and 275MB/s”

“With an average data transfer rate of 111 MB/s the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB SATA 6Gb/s hard drive is amazingly fast.”

“The Patriot Torqx SSD is over 55% faster compared to a SATA 3Gb/s SSD, making it the clear choice for enthusiasts.”

While real-world usage didn’t always reach quite the same maximum interface speeds, it was clear SATA 3.0 enabled a big leap forward in storage performance compared to preceding technology at the time.

The Future: Is SATA 3.0 Nearing the End?

SATA 3.0 has had an incredibly long reign as the dominant interface for linking storage drives and shows no immediate signs of disappearing. However, new interfaces are emerging that may eventually supersede it.

PCIe 4.0 SSDs offer much higher bandwidth of around 4,000 to 7,000 MB/s and newer PCIe 5.0 SSDs will push speeds above 10,000 MB/s. NVMe is a protocol designed specifically for interfacing with high speed PCIe SSDs.

However, both PCIe and NVMe SSDs carry cost premiums compared to SATA. The transition away from SATA 3.0 will take many more years barring major disruptive innovations in storage technologies.

For now and the foreseeable future, SATA 3.0 offers the best balance of speed and affordability for typical consumer storage needs. But new interfaces probably will eventually bring about its decline from dominance.