Serial-ATA Storage Devices Revolution

When Serial-ATA technology first emerged to the surface, it faced few challenges that it could easy subdue within just a few years to become the only authorized data-bus technique for storage devices. Serial-ATA (aka SATA) offers much faster speed than its predecessor, PATA, that annoyed its users with its limited capabilities to transfer large amount of data.

Hard Drives Using SATA

Serial ATA (SATA, abbreviated from Serial AT Attachment) is a computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives, optical drives, and solid-state drives. Through industry leadership and innovation, Intel continues to pave the way for faster and more efficient data transfer by helping to define new standards for Serial ATA through involvement with the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). Serial ATA (also known as SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is a computer bus interface between host bus adaptors and mass storage devices. Serial ATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA) is a standard for connecting and transferring data from hard disk drives (HDDs) to computer systems. You can read more on hard drives and their use on Quality Byte LLC website ( SATA (pronounced say-da), short for Serial ATA (which is an abbreviation for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), is an IDE standard first released in 2001 for connecting devices like optical drives and hard drives to the motherboard. If you’re looking for the absolute largest capacity external hard drive, then the WD My Book Duo 16TB is the one to get, offering a huge 16TB of storage space over two hard drives.

Serial ATA interface

Serial ATA succeeded the older Parallel ATA (PATA) standard, offering several advantages over the older interface: reduced cable size and cost (seven conductors instead of 40 or 80), native hot swapping, faster data transfer through higher signaling rates, and more efficient transfer through an (optional) I/O queuing protocol. Serial ATA host adapters and devices communicate via a single high-speed seven-wire serial cable instead of a parallel bus used in previous technologies. A 2tb SATA hard drive for PS4 offers double storage space than the stock hard drive. As its name implies, SATA is based on serial signaling technology, unlike Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) hard drives that use parallel signaling. The term SATA generally refers to the types of cables and connections that follow this standard. The read-only optical drive reads Blu-ray discs at 6× constant angular velocity for a maximum read speed of 27 MB/s – a significant upgrade from the PS3’s 2× speeds that were capped at 9 MB/s.

Although, a number of hot plug PATA offering were first invented and marketed by Core International beginning in the late 1980s for the Micro Channel architecture bus controllers. Thanks to industry leaders like Intel, Serial ATA has replaced Parallel ATA in over 99 percent of shipped desktop PCs. SATA has several advantages over the Parallel ATA (PATA) hard drives developed in the 1980s.

Serial ATA replaces Parallel ATA as the IDE standard of choice for connecting storage devices inside of a computer. With this type of drive, you’ll be paying more per terabyte and sacrificing some speed, but portable drives are smaller and lighter than desktop drives and don’t need an additional power adapter.
Prior to SATA’s introduction in 2000, PATA was simply known as ATA. With mechanical hard drives and high-performance flash drives transferring data at speeds beyond the limits of previous-generation specifications, second-generation 3.0 Gb/s SATA interfaces are now shipping in high volumes and are prevalent in disk drives, solid-state devices, and both PC and server chipsets. SATA cables are thinner, more flexible and less massive than the ribbon cables required for conventional PATA hard drives. SATA storage devices can transmit data to and from the rest of the computer much, much faster than an otherwise similar PATA device. We’ll consider their respective specs, graphics, prices, controllers, games and non-gaming functionality.

Architecture of SATA 3.0

The “AT Attachment” (ATA) name originated after the 1984 release of the IBM Personal Computer AT, more commonly known as the IBM AT. Intel has led the way in Serial ATA development by defining the standardization of the Serial ATA host controller interface (AHCI) for many years. Serial ATA hard drives connect to a computer’s motherboard via SATA controller hardware that manages the flow of data. PATA is sometimes just called IDE. For instance, the £150 you might spend on a 480GB SSD would net you a 4TB HDD.

The IBM AT’s controller interface became a de facto industry interface for the inclusion of hard disks. “AT” was IBM’s abbreviation for “Advanced Technology”; thus, many companies and organizations indicate SATA is an abbreviation of “Serial Advanced Technology Attachment”; however, the ATA specifications simply use the name “AT Attachment”, to avoid possible trademark issues with IBM.

AHCI specifications describe the register-level interface for a host controller for Serial ATA. Putting SATA in IDE mode means the hard drive is recognized as a PATA device — a situation that provides better compatibility with older hardware, but comes with the tradeoff of lower performance. If you see SATA being used sort of as an opposite term with IDE, it just means that Serial and Parallel ATA cables or connections are being discussed. Still, on a technical hardware level, it’s impressive what both companies have managed to squeeze out of refined architecture.

SATA host adapters and devices communicate via a high-speed serial cable over two pairs of conductors. The specification includes a description of the hardware/software interface between system software and the host controller hardware and is intended for hardware component designers, system builders, and device driver (software) developers. Setting a SATA controller to Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) offers higher performance than IDE mode, and also enables features such as hot swapping on SATA drives. Compared to Parallel ATA, Serial ATA also has the benefit of cheaper cable costs and the ability to hot swap devices. In this mini-roundup of external storage devices, we’ve used both CrystalDiskMark and a file transfer to summarise the performance of each product.

  • In contrast, parallel ATA (the redesignation for the legacy ATA specifications) uses a 16-bit wide data bus with many additional support and control signals, all operating at much lower frequency.
  • The redundant array of independent disk (RAID) mode supports both AHCI functions and RAID data protection features.
  • To hot swap means that the devices can be replaced without turning off the entire system.
  • To ensure backward compatibility with legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same basic ATA and ATAPI command sets as legacy ATA devices.
  • The SATA transport layer differs from PATA drives, in which data bits are delivered simultaneously across a 40-pin-wide ribbon cable.
  • With PATA devices, you’d need to shut off the computer before replacing the hard drive. Now that USB 2.0 has been banished from all self-respecting storage, we find USB 3 as the standard for connection, letting these portable drives perform as quickly as the little disks inside will allow.
  • SATA has replaced parallel ATA in consumer desktop and laptop computers; SATA’s market share in the desktop PC market was 99% in 2008.

As its name suggests, a Serial ATA drive transfers data in serial fashion.
While SATA drives support hot swapping, the device using it must as well, like the operating system. Since launch, the PS4 Pro has come into its own with an assortment of improved specs and the newly implemented Boost Mode. PATA has mostly been replaced by SATA for any use; with PATA in declining use in industrial and embedded applications that use CompactFlash (CF) storage, which was designed around the legacy PATA standard. Data is moved one bit at a time between a SATA drive and its host, using a seven-pin data cable and 15-pin power cable. SATA cables themselves are much smaller than the fat PATA ribbon cables.

SATA hard drive

Using SATA in modern storage devices

CNET’s Dong Ngo reviewed both the T3 and the earlier T1. A 2008 standard, CFast to replace CompactFlash is based on SATA. The SATA cable results in a higher signaling rate, which corresponds to faster throughput of data. This means that they’re easier to manage because they don’t take up as much space and can be tied up more easily, if need be. To further enhance optical drive performance, the PS4 features a hardware on-the-fly zlib decompression module (a special piece of hardware used to quickly decompress the data on the Blu-ray disc, which has been compressed to save space and bandwidth), allowing for greater effective bandwidth, whilst at the same time, the console continuously caches data onto its hard disk, even buffering unread data when a game is not actively accessing the optical drive, forming part of Sony’s PlayGo strategy.

PS4 Hard Drive and SATA interface

Serial ATA industry compatibility specifications originate from the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). The SATA-IO group collaboratively creates, reviews, ratifies, and publishes the interoperability specifications, the test cases and plugfests. Also, the thinner design results in better airflow inside the computer case. Thunderbolt, USB 3.1/USB-C, and USB 3.0 external SSDs are available now, but they are much more expensive than spinning hard drives: For example, a simple 1TB USB 3.0 (spinning) hard drive goes for about $50 to $60, while a 1TB SSD using USB 3.0 costs upwards of $300. As with many other industry compatibility standards, the SATA content ownership is transferred to other industry bodies: primarily the INCITS T13 subcommittee ATA, the INCITS T10 subcommittee (SCSI), a subgroup of T10 responsible for Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The remainder of this article will try to use the terminology and specifications of SATA-IO. You can visit PS4 Storage website (i.e. for more details. Like I said above, SATA transfer speeds are much higher than PATA. 133 MB/s is the fastest transfer speed possible with PATA devices, whereas SATA supports speeds from 187.5 MB/s to 1,969 MB/s (as of revision 3.2).The maximum cable length of a PATA cable is just 18 inches (1.5 feet).SATA cables can be as long as 1 meter (3.3 feet). However, while a PATA data cable can have two devices attached to it at once, a SATA drive only allows one.

In terms of sales, Sony has a comfortable lead. Some Windows operating systems don’t support SATA devices, like Windows 95 and 98. If you don’t mind sacrificing some of the ample storage space you can set the drives up in a RAID array, so you have file backups of your files should one of the drives die. However, since those versions of Windows are so outdated, it shouldn’t be a concern these days. Testing has been conducted using Windows 10 in a workstation with an Asus X99-E Deluxe motherboard, which has a port that supports higher USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 speeds to remove any potential hardware bottlenecks.

Another disadvantage of SATA hard drives is that they sometimes require a special device driver before the computer can begin reading and writing data to it. Although a new Blu-ray disc technology was created specifically for 4K resolution, the console’s disk drive does not support the new format due to cost. SATA cables are long, 7-pin cables. This means that when transferring your music or video collection to or from your PC, you can expect around 100MB/s read speed (and typically the same for writing, since unlike flash storage technology the read and write speeds tend to be more symmetrical). Both ends are flat and thin.

SATA connector

One end plugs into a port on the motherboard, usually labeled SATA, and the other into the back of a storage device like a SATA hard drive. External hard drives can also be used with SATA connections, given of course that the hard drive itself has a SATA connection too. This is called eSATA. The way it works is that the external drive attaches to the eSATA connection at the back of the computer next to the other openings for things like the monitor, network cable, and USB ports. Inside the computer, the same internal SATA connection is made with the motherboard just like if the hard drive were fixed inside the case. eSATA drives are hot swappable in the same way as internal SATA drives.


Most computers don’t come pre-installed with an eSATA connection on the back of the case. However, you can buy the bracket yourself pretty cheaply. Monoprice’s 2 Port Internal SATA to eSATA Bracket, for example, is less than $10. However, one caveat with external SATA hard drives is that the cable doesn’t transfer power, only data. This means that unlike some external USB drives, eSATA drives require a power adapter, like one that plugs into the wall.