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I'm excited about the iMac 2011 refresh, but I'm troubled by the news that there are no SATA 3 connections. There's lots of confusion on Mac Rumors and OWC blogged that there is no SATA 3.

I was wondering if anyone has an iMac 2011 and can confirm that there is in fact no SATA 3 controller. I'm trying to determine if I should get a Vertex 3 or just stick with the Vertex 2. No SATA 3 controller would mean you wouldn't get any benefit from the Vertex 3. Thanks in advance.

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We're starting to see some more clarification. The new iMacs come with the Intel Z68 chipset,…. Wikipedia says they have 2 6Gb/s ports and 4 3Gb/s ports. Hope there's more clarification how to use the 6Gb/s ports. – Arthur Maltson May 5 '11 at 1:14
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It turns out that there is SATA 3 on board, it just wasn't enabled until 4 May 2011. The Other World Computing blog has the details:

While iMac EFI Update 1.6 is described as including “fixes that improve performance and stability for Thunderbolt,” it would also seem that an unadvertised benefit is that it also unlocks the full 6Gb/s, SATA 3.0 capabilities of two of the internal drive bays.

Unfortunately, the optical bay remains at 3Gb/s.

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Awesome news, thanks :) – Arthur Maltson May 6 '11 at 2:04

I don't have a 2011 iMac, however you can trust the statement from OWC that you linked in your question.

They bought one, took it apart and unequivocally state that there is NO SATA 3 support.

Since they sell the Vertex 3 and the industry is moving towards SATA 3, it would not be in their commercial interest to make this statement were it not true.

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Although this may well be true, it seems a really odd design move to leave off SATA 3 support. – boehj May 4 '11 at 3:01
I totally agree. – RobZolkos May 4 '11 at 3:27
I’m not surprised that the iMac, which is a consumer machine, doesn’t have a SATA 3 controller. And even if it did, I can’t see it making a noticeable difference. – alwillis May 4 '11 at 8:26
@Arthur While I could figure out what you meant in your comment, could you please use the standard lowercase-b for bits and uppercase-B for bytes? That way your second sentence is: "SATA 2 tops out at 3Gb/s which is 375MB/s". You clearly know what you're talking about, it's just hard to understand your comment without pulling out my calculator. – CajunLuke May 4 '11 at 14:18
Edit: thanks @CajunLuke, good catch :). With the new Vertex 3 there'd be a huge difference. SATA 2 tops out at 3Gb/s which is 375MB/s. The Vertex 3 rates at aorund 550MB/s read/write, you'd be losing out on 175MB/s. SATA 3 tops out at 6Gb/s which is 750MB/s, giving you plenty of bandwidth. – Arthur Maltson May 4 '11 at 16:00

Whilst there may be no SATA3 controller on board there is nothing to stop a SATA3 to Thunderbolt interface appearing in the future.

The lack of SATA3 on the new iMacs is not stopping me from buying one. Thunderbolt will provide all the expansion opportunities I need.

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