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Exhausting Drives: ATA versus SATA

The efficiency of laptop methods has been steadily growing as sooner processors, reminiscence, and video playing cards are constantly being developed. The one key element that’s typically uncared for when taking a look at enhancing the efficiency of a pc system is the laborious drive. Exhausting drive producers have been continuously evolving the fundamental laborious drive utilized in fashionable laptop methods for the final 25 years, and the previous few years have seen some thrilling developments from sooner spindle speeds, bigger caches, higher reliability, and elevated information transmission speeds.

The drive sort utilized in shopper grade computer systems is the hearty ATA sort drive (generally referred to as an IDE drive). The ATA customary dates again to 1986 and is predicated on a 16-bit parallel interface has undergone many evolutions since its introduction to extend the velocity and dimension of the drives that it could possibly help. The newest customary is ATA-7 (first launched in 2001 by the T13 Technical Committee (the group answerable for the ATA customary)) which helps information switch charges as much as 133MB / sec. That is anticipated to be the final replace for the parallel ATA customary.

As way back as 2000 it was seen that the parallel ATA customary was maxing out its limits as to what it may deal with. With information charges hitting the 133MB / sec mark on a parallel cable, you’re inviting all types of issues due to sign timing, EMI (electromagnetic interference) and different information integrity points; Thus business leaders received collectively and got here up with a brand new customary often known as Serial ATA (SATA). SATA has solely been round a couple of years, however is destined to develop into "the usual" attributable to a number of advantages to be addressed on this Tech Tip.

The 2 applied sciences that we’ll be taking a look at are:
ATA (Superior Expertise Attachment) – a 16-bit parallel interface used for controlling laptop drives. Launched in 1986, it has undergone many evolutions within the final 18+ years, with the most recent model being referred to as ATA-7. Wherever an merchandise is known as being an ATA gadget, it’s generally a Parallel ATA gadget. ATA units are additionally generally referred to as IDE, EIDE, Extremely-ATA, Extremely-DMA, ATAPI, PATA, and so on. (Every of those acronyms truly check with very particular gadgets, however are generally interchanged)
SATA (Serial Superior Expertise Attachment) – a 1-bit serial evolution of the Parallel ATA bodily storage interface.

Primary Options & Connections

SATA drives are straightforward to differentiate from their ATA cousins ​​by the completely different information and energy connections discovered on the again of the drives. A side-by-side comparability of the 2 interfaces might be seen on this PDF from Maxtor, and the next covers lots of the variations …

Normal ATA drives, reminiscent of this 200GB Western Digital mannequin, have sure cumbersome, two inch broad ribbon cable with 40-pin information connections and obtain the 5V essential to energy them from the acquainted Four-pin connection. The fundamental information cables for these drives have seemed the identical for years. A change was made with the introduction of the ATA-5 customary to higher enhance the sign high quality by making an 80 wire cable used on the 40-pin connector (these are generally referred to as 40-pin / 80-wire cables). To enhance airflow inside the laptop system some producers returned to actually folding over the ribbon cable and taping it into that place. One other latest bodily change additionally got here with the appearance of rounded cables. The efficiency of the rounded cables is the same as that of the flat ribbon, however many favor the improved system air movement afforded, ease of wire administration, and cooler look that include them.

SATA drives, reminiscent of this 120GB Western Digital mannequin, have a half inch broad, 7 "blade and beam" information connection, which ends up in a a lot thinner and simpler to handle information cable. These cables take the comfort of the ATA rounded cables to the following stage by being even narrower, extra versatile and able to being longer with out concern of information loss. SATA cables have a most size of 1 meter (39.37 inches), which is way bigger than the beneficial 18 inch cable for ATA drives. The decreased footprint of SATA information connections frees up house on motherboards, doubtlessly permitting for extra handy layouts and room for extra onboard options!

A 15-pin energy connection delivers the 250mV of essential energy to SATA drives. 15-pins for a SATA gadget appears like it could require a a lot bigger energy cable than a Four-pin ATA gadget, however in actuality the 2 energy connectors are nearly the identical top. In the interim, many SATA drives are additionally coming with a legacy Four-pin energy connector for comfort.

Many fashionable motherboards, reminiscent of this Chaintech motherboard, include SATA drive connections onboard (many additionally together with the ATA connectors as nicely for legacy drive compatibility), and new energy provides, reminiscent of this Extremely X-Join, usually function a couple of of the Obligatory 15-pin energy connections, making it straightforward to make use of these drives on new methods. Older methods can simply be upgraded to help SATA drives by use of adapters, reminiscent of this PCI slot SATA controller and this Four-pin to 15-pin SATA energy adapter.

Optical drives are additionally turning into extra available with SATA connections. Drives such because the Plextor PX-712SA benefit from the brand new interface, though the efficiency is not going to be any better than a comparable optical drive with an ATA connection.


Along with being extra handy to put in and drawing much less energy, SATA drives have efficiency advantages that basically set them other than ATA drives.

Probably the most fascinating efficiency function of SATA is the utmost bandwidth potential. As we now have famous, the evolution of ATA drives has seen the information switch fee attain its most at 133 MB / second, the place the present SATA customary offers information transfers of as much as 150 MB / second. The general efficiency enhance of SATA over ATA can presently be anticipated to be as much as 5% (based on Seagate), however enhancements in SATA know-how will definitely enhance on that.

The way forward for SATA holds nice issues for these wanting much more velocity, as drives with 300 MB / second switch charges (SATA II) can be available in 2005, and by 2008 speeds of as much as 600 MB / second might be anticipated. These speeds are unimaginable, and are laborious to think about at this level.

One other efficiency profit discovered on SATA drives is their built-in hot-swap capabilities. SATA drives might be purchased on and offline with out shutting down the pc system, offering a severe profit to those that can’t afford downtime, or who needs to maneuver drives out and in of operation shortly. The upper variety of wires within the energy connection is partially defined by this, as six of the fifteenth wires are devoted to permitting the hot-swap function.


Evaluating ATA drives to SATA drives might be tough given all the variables, however on the whole it’s the case that SATA drives will nonetheless value only a bit greater than a comparable ATA drive. The hole is closing shortly although, and as SATA drives achieve in reputation and availability a definite shift in costs might be anticipated. Contemplating the advantages of SATA over ATA, the potential distinction of some can simply be justified when contemplating an improve. Laptop Geeks presently has a restricted choice of SATA drives, however a number of technical websites, reminiscent of The Tech Zone and The Tech Lounge, provide actual time worth guides to see how comparable drives stack up.

Last Phrases

The present SATA customary offers vital advantages over ATA by way of comfort, energy consumption and, most significantly, efficiency. The primary factor ATA has going for it proper now’s historical past, because it has been the usual for therefore lengthy that it’ll not going disappear any time quickly. The way forward for SATA can be much more fascinating as velocity will increase will assist laborious drive growth maintain tempo with different key system parts.

Source by Jason Kohrs

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