Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

Exhausting Drives: ATA versus SATA

The efficiency of laptop programs has been steadily rising as sooner processors, reminiscence, and video playing cards are constantly being developed. The one key part that’s typically uncared for when taking a look at enhancing the efficiency of a pc system is the arduous drive. Exhausting drive producers have been consistently evolving the fundamental arduous drive utilized in fashionable laptop programs 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 kind used most in shopper grade computer systems is the hearty ATA kind drive (generally known as an IDE drive). The ATA customary dates again to 1986 and relies on a 16-bit parallel interface has undergone many evolutions since its introduction to extend the pace and dimension of the drives that it could possibly assist. The most recent customary is ATA-7 (first launched in 2001 by the T13 Technical Committee (the group accountable 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 limitations as to what it might deal with. With information charges hitting the 133MB/sec mark on a parallel cable, you might be inviting all types of issues due to sign timing, EMI (electromagnetic interference) and different information integrity points; thus business leaders bought collectively and got here up with a brand new customary referred to as Serial ATA (SATA). SATA has solely been round a couple of years, however is destined to turn out to be “the usual” because of 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 Know-how 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 newest model being known 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 known as IDE, EIDE, Extremely-ATA, Extremely-DMA, ATAPI, PATA, and so on. (every of those acronyms really do check with very particular objects, however are generally interchanged)

SATA (Serial Superior Know-how Attachment) – a 1-bit serial evolution of the Parallel ATA bodily storage interface.

Fundamental 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 will be seen on this PDF from Maxtor, and the next covers lots of the variations…

Normal ATA drives, similar to this 200GB Western Digital mannequin, have considerably 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 raised enhance the sign high quality by making an 80 wire cable used on the 40-pin connector (these are generally known as 40-pin/80-wire cables). To enhance airflow inside the laptop system some producers resorted 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 choose the improved system air circulate afforded, ease of wire administration, and cooler look that include them.

SATA drives, similar to this 120GB Western Digital mannequin, have a half inch broad, 7 “blade and beam” information connection, which leads to a a lot thinner and simpler to handle information cable. These cables take the comfort of the ATA rounded cables to the subsequent degree by being even narrower, extra versatile and able to being longer with out concern of knowledge loss. SATA cables have a most size of 1 meter (39.37 inches), which is far better than the really helpful 18 inch cable for ATA drives. The diminished footprint of SATA information connections frees up area on motherboards, doubtlessly permitting for extra handy layouts and room for extra onboard options!

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

Many fashionable motherboards, similar to this Chaintech motherboard, include SATA drive connections onboard (many additionally together with the ATA connectors as effectively for legacy drive compatibility), and new energy provides, similar to this Extremely X-Join, usually characteristic a couple of of the mandatory 15-pin energy connections, making it straightforward to make use of these drives on new programs. Older programs can simply be upgraded to assist SATA drives by use of adapters, similar to 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 won’t 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 aside from ATA drives.

Essentially the most attention-grabbing efficiency characteristic of SATA is the utmost bandwidth potential. As we’ve got famous, the evolution of ATA drives has seen the info switch fee attain its most at 133 MB/second, the place the present SATA customary gives 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 certainly enhance on that.

The way forward for SATA holds nice issues for these wanting much more pace, 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 will be anticipated. These speeds are unimaginable, and are arduous to think about at this level.

One other efficiency profit discovered on SATA drives is their built-in hot-swap capabilities. SATA drives will be introduced on and offline with out shutting down the pc system, offering a critical profit to those that cannot afford downtime, or who wish to transfer 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 fifteen wires are devoted to permitting the hot-swap characteristic.


Evaluating ATA drives to SATA drives will be difficult given the entire variables, however basically it’s the case that SATA drives will nonetheless value only a bit greater than a comparable ATA drive. The hole is closing quickly although, and as SATA drives acquire in recognition and availability a definite shift in costs will be anticipated. Contemplating the advantages of SATA over ATA, the potential distinction of some can simply be justified when contemplating an improve. Pc Geeks presently has a restricted choice of SATA drives, however a number of technical websites, similar to The Tech Zone and The Tech Lounge, supply actual time worth guides to see how comparable drives stack up.

Closing Phrases

The present SATA customary gives important advantages over ATA when it comes to comfort, energy consumption and, most significantly, efficiency. The principle factor ATA has going for it proper now could be historical past, because it has been the usual for therefore lengthy that it’s going to not going disappear any time quickly. The way forward for SATA can be much more attention-grabbing as pace will increase will assist arduous drive growth preserve tempo with different key system parts.

Source by Jason Kohrs

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