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If you are building or upgrading a computer, recovering data from an old hard drive, or connecting an external solid-state drive to your PC, you may need a SATA cable to complete the job. SATA cables are used to connect storage devices to your computer’s motherboard (“mobo”) or SATA controller. Some motherboards come with a couple of SATA cables but not always.
SATA (also referred to as Serial ATA) stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, an industry-standard bus interface for connecting a computer’s host bus adapter to storage devices such as hard disk drives (HDD), optical drives and solid-state drives (SSD). SATA cables are typically used inside a computer’s case. eSATA cables connect external devices outside of the computer case and support data transfer but not power (the assumption being that external devices have their own power supply). eSATAp (Power over eSATA) is a combination of eSATA and USB. An eSATAp port accepts an eSATA or USB connector and provides both data transfer and power.
SATA Cable Best Features
The ability to plug or unplug a device without powering down the computer is known as hot-swapping. SATA connectors and devices employ a two-step mating process to avoid arcing and power drops that might affect other loads. The 4 and 12 ground pins on a SATA power connector are longer so they make contact first when mated. Similarly, SATA devices have longer 3, 7 and 13 power pins for the same reason. Hot-swapping is a feature of the SATA controller.
To ensure a solid connection and to avoid accidental disconnections, SATA cables will typical feature latching connectors.
Space inside a computer case is often tight so angled connectors are an important consideration when choosing a cable. When installing a HDD or SSD horizontally, a left-angled connector feeds the cable up and along the top of the drive. A right-angled connector feeds the cable down. The angle of the connector is also important when drives are installed vertically and side-by-side.
A twinaxial (“twinax”) SATA data cable is typically flat with its 4 copper conductors arranged side-by-side in pairs with a gap in between. SATA uses differential signaling to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) or crosstalk (interference from the other conductors in the cable). Differential signaling also requires a lower voltage, which reduces power consumption.
SATA cables can be up to a meter (3.3 feet) in length but attenuation (signal loss) can be minimized by using the shortest possible cable for internal and external connections. eSATA cables can be up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) in length and support multiple devices on a single port/cable.
Data Transfer Speeds
Since its introduction in 2003, the SATA interface has undergone three major revisions. The primary difference between versions is data transfer speed.
|Standard||Bandwidth*||Data Transfer Speed|
|SATA I||1.5 Gb/sec||150 MB/sec|
|SATA II||3 Gb/sec||300 MB/sec|
|SATA III||6 Gb/sec||600 MB/sec|
* Note that a gigabit (Gb) is not the same as a gigabyte (GB). 1 GB = 8 Gb.
SATA III is backward compatible with earlier standards so SATA II rated devices will function but at a reduced speed. For example, a solid-state drive connected to SATA III (6 Gbps) port can read at speeds up to 550 Mbps. When the same drive is connected to SATA II (3 Gbps) port, read operations will be limited to 285 Mbps.
what is SATA and PATA
The full form of SATA is Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. SATA is the bus interface that is used for connecting secondary devices and it is currently in use. For the first time, it was initiated in the year 2001. Since it is in use currently it has advanced features as compared to PATA. SATA is hot-pluggable. It has a very warm temperature.
The speed capacity is faster in SATA. The average speed is 3Gbps. It has a faster speed that helps to connect the devices quickly and hence it is very convenient to use. SATA provides an external interface that is very convenient to use. The size of the cable of SATA is small. It measures a 7-pin cable size. Both the ends are thin and flat, where one plug connects to the motherboard and the other to the secondary device. The bit rate of SATA is 150 MB/s – 600MB/s. SATA has a master-slave arrangement.
SATA has more advantages as compared to PATA, as it has more advanced features. SATA has more advantages as it has a small cable size, fast data transfer speed, etc. SATA brought gigantic changes in the lives of the PATA users. The more advanced version of SATA itself provides isochronous transmission features to enable audio and video devices.
PATA stands for Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment. PATA is also a bus interface that is used for connecting secondary devices that are currently not in use, therefore it is outdated. PATA was the latter version of ATA. For the first time, it was initiated by Western Digital and Compaq in the year 1986. The features of PATA are not that advanced as SATA and hence it got outdated and people don’t use it anymore.
PATA is not hot-pluggable. It does not have a very warm temperature as compared to SATA. The speed capacity is slow in PATA, with an average speed of 133MBps. It is slower as compared to SATA, the connection process between the PATA and other devices is slow.
PATA provides an internal interface that is inconvenient to use. The size of the cable of PATA is larger as compared to SATA. The cable of PATA measures approximately 18 inches. The ribbon cable is attached to 40-80 connectors which measure approximately 40-pin. There are two to three connectors each, on the cable. The bit rate of PATA is 16 MB/s – 133MB/s. PATA does not support arrangements. PATA was slow hence it was replaced with its advanced version as SATA.
Differences between PATA and SATA
Apart from the fact that SATA can be termed as the successor of ATA in a sense that it was better, faster and improved version of it. There are a few differences that are quite apparent on both the interfaces. Here are some of the major ones:
As already discussed, the transfer speed of SATA is far more developed and faster than that of PATA hard drives. While the data is transferred in MB/s with ATA, in SATA interface, the transfer speed is in GB/s, which is a huge change from its predecessor. The increased speed is quite useful for loading of images, videos, and larger documents. For someone who likes playing games, high data transfer speed means they could experience a smooth, better gaming session.
Another difference between SATA and PATA is the cable length. While the maximum length of a PATA cable can extend only up to 18-inches, a SATA cable can extend up to 1 meter, making the moving around of hard drive more flexible. The cable is easier to detangle with the SATA cable, as it can be moved around with more space within the loops.
PATA being an older version of ATA interface does not support hot swapping, which means you cannot change or replace the part while the computer is in use, while with SATA hot swapping is possible. The cable in SATA might be longer than in PATA, but they are smaller in size, which means it does not clog up the airflow in the computer system. In turn, it increases the life of a computer in the long run and faster performance on a daily basis.
Unlike PATA, which uses different wires to carry data and information, SATA is designed to work in a way that it carries data in a single bus. That is why it is compatible to use with modern day computer systems. SATA can be used to connect hard drive to the motherboard of a computer system or even hard drive to hard drive as well.
Hot plug feature:
As discussed earlier, the hot swapping feature, is useful to add and remove external devices like USB, without rebooting the whole computer system. This feature can be called hot plug feature. This feature provides a way to use an external interface called eSATA, just like the USB.
With each new version of SATA that has been released to the whimsical world of technology, it has brought something to not only its design but its functionality too. The latest version released in February of 2016, named SATA revision 3.3, introduced at least four different features. The SMR feature introduced is known to provide an increase in hard drive capacity. Another feature that is termed as Power Disable feature is introduced wherein the data center requires minimum maintenance and can be done with ease.
The SATA standard is designed with a goal to support both backward and forward compatibility. Meaning if and when the future revisions of SATA standard is released, the system can accept input from that version as well as the past versions.
As one can see, SATA is different from PATA not only it’s designing, but also has advanced with its features and functions to make the jobs of the people easier. Since the technology was invented to decrease human effort, the lesser the work is done to get more results, any tech accessories would last a long time among the people. The performance of SATA is reliable and is less time-consuming when compared to PATA in many ways.