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What Is SATA

SATA is an abbreviation for "Serial Advanced Technology Attachment," also referred to as "Serial ATA." These days, SATA is by far the most common interface used to connect internal drives including hard drives and optical drives such as DVD or Blu-ray players. Due to its greater performance and various other advantages, SATA has replaced the older parallel ATA (also known as the IDE interface), although most motherboards still provide two IDE slots for compatibility with older devices.

SATA has many advantages over the previous interface and it has already been standard for quite some years. For starters, SATA provides a much higher bandwidth. There are three revisions. The first one, introduced in 2003, offers a maximum speed of 1.5 gigabits per second, the second revision proves potential speeds of twice that and the current, third revision provides speeds of up to 6 gigabits per second. Fortunately, all of the later revisions are backwards compatible. You can plug a new SATA-II hard drive into an older SATA port and it will still work fine, although not at its maximum potential speed.

Another significant advantage of SATA is that each port is independent, whereas two IDE drives would often share a single bus and thus compete with one another for bandwidth. The actual physical size of SATA ports is also much smaller than that of IDE ports, making it possible to have more of them on a motherboard. The smaller cables also take up less space. Most motherboards provide five or more SATA ports, allowing you to install multiple hard disks and optical drives.

Another form of SATA which you may hear about is "eSATA," the "e" standing for "external." This was introduced in 2004 and you'll find that many newer laptops provide one of these ports. As the name suggests, eSATA is designed for connecting external hard drives or optical drives. However, the interface is not particularly popular since most external drives are designed to connect to a USB or FireWire port, even though this is actually not as efficient in most cases.


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