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Hard drives: ATA versus SATA

The performance of computer systems is growing steadily as faster processors, memory and video cards are constantly being developed. One of the most important components, often neglected to improve the performance of a computer system, is the hard drive. In the last 25 years, hard drive manufacturers have been constantly developing the core hard drive used in modern computer systems and have been experiencing exciting improvements in recent years due to faster spindle speed, higher cache, increased reliability and increased data rates.

The drive type used in consumer-grade computers is the hearty ATA drive (called the IDE drive). The ATA standard dates back to 1986 and is based on a 16-bit parallel interface that has gone through many improvements since its launch to increase drive speed and size. The latest ATA-7 standard (first introduced in 2001 by the T13 Technical Committee (the ATA standard group)) supports the data rate up to 133 MB / sec. This is expected to be the last update to the parallel ATA standard.

As early as 2000, we saw that the parallel ATA standard maximized its limits to what it could handle. In the case of data transmission rates of 133 MB / second signals with parallel cable, there are various problems due to signal timing, EMI (electromagnetic interference) and other data integrity problems; so industry leaders have teamed up with a new standard called Serial ATA (SATA). SATA has only a few years now, but this technical tip has many advantages.

The two technologies we are looking at are:
ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) – A 16-bit parallel interface for controlling computer drives. It was introduced in 1986, has undergone a number of changes over the last 18 years, the latest version being ATA-7. Wherever an item is called an ATA device, it is usually a parallel ATA device. ATA devices are typically IDE, EIDE, Ultra-ATA, Ultra-DMA, ATAPI, PATA, etc. Named (each abbreviation refers to very specific elements but is often replaced)
Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) – 1-bit serial enhancement of the parallel ATA physical storage interface.

Basic Features and Connections

SATA drives are easy to distinguish from the ATA cousin with the variety of data and power on the back of the drives. Comparison of the two interfaces in this PDF is read from Maxtor and contains a number of differences …

Standard ATA drives, such as the 200GB Western Digital model, two-inch wide ribbon cable, 40-pole data connection and receive the 5V required to power the known 4-pin connection. The basic cables for these drives have been the same for years. By introducing the ATA-5 standard, the 40-pin connector (typically 40-pole / 80-wire cable) uses 80 wired cables to improve signal quality. In order to improve the airflow within the computer system, some manufacturers returned to literally fold over the ribbon cable and this was fixed to the position. Another physical change has emerged with the appearance of round cables. Rounded cables have the same performance as flat ribbons, but many people prefer improved airflow, light wire handling and cooler appearance.

SATA drives, such as the 120GB Western Digital, have a half inch wide data connection with a 7 "blade and light beam, which makes the data cable much thinner and easier to handle. These cables make the ATA rounded cable to the next level because they are even narrower, more flexible and longer, without loss of data.The maximum length of SATA cables is 1 meter (39.37 inches), which is much higher than the recommended 18-inch cable for ATA drives SATA

The 15-pin power connector provides the required power output of 250mV to SATA drives.The 15 poles of the SATA device sound like much more it would require a larger power cord than a 4-pole ATA device, but in fact, the two connectors are nearly the same height. For the time being, many SATA drives come with an old 4-pin connector for convenience.

Many modern motherboards, such as the Chaintech motherboard, have SATA drive connectors (including many ATA connectors for compatibility with the old drive), and new power supplies such as Ultra X-Connect provide the required 15-pin network connections some of them make it easy to use drives on new systems. Older systems can easily be upgraded to support SATA drives, such as adapters, such as the PCI slot SATA controller and the 4 or 15-pin SATA power supply.

Optical Drives are getting better with SATA connections. Drives such as the Plextor PX-712SA will take advantage of the new interface, though the performance can not be greater than a comparable optical drive ATA connection.


In addition to SATA drives, the installation and reduction of less powerful devices is more convenient than the ATA drives.

SATA's most exciting performance is the maximum bandwidth. As mentioned above, the development of ATA drives has reached data rates up to 133 MB per second, with the current SATA standard providing 150 MB / second data transfer. SATA over ATA's total performance gains are expected to rise to up to 5% (according to Seagate), but the development of SATA technology will certainly improve.

The future of SATA is great for those who want to get even faster, as the SATA II drivers at 300 MB / second will be available immediately in 2005 and up to 2008 at up to 600 MB / s available. expected. These speeds are incredible, and this is hard to imagine.

The other performance gained on SATA drives is the built-in hot-swap capability. SATA drives can be purchased without a computer system being shut down and offline, with great benefits for those who can not afford downtime or who want to quickly and easily drive drives. In the electrical connection, some of the wires are partially explained because six of the fifteenth wires are used to enable hot swap function.


Comparing ATA drives to SATA drives may be complicated when all variables are specified, but it is generally the case that SATA drives still spend only a little more than a comparable ATA drive. However, the gap is rapidly over and because of the popularity and availability of SATA drives, price change is conceivable. Taking into account the benefits of SATA over ATA, the difference between a few dollars can be easily verified by considering the upgrade. Computer Geeks currently has only a limited number of SATA drives, but some technical sites, such as the Tech Zone and Tech Lounge, offer real-time barcodes to see comparable drives clash.

Final words

The current SATA standard for ATA provides significant benefits for convenience, energy consumption and, most importantly, performance. The most important thing the ATA is currently doing is history, since it was so long standard that it will not disappear soon. The future of SATA will be even more interesting, as speed growth will help drive hard disk drives with other key components.

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