What is SATA (Serial ATA)?

SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is a data transfer interface between the motherboard and various storage devices such as hard drives or optical devices such as CD or DVD players and printers.

What is SATA (Serial ATA)?

What Does Serial ATA Port Mean?

This interface replaces the traditional IDE interface or is technically known as Interface Parallel ATA or P-ATA.

SATA provides superior performance, faster speeds, better handling when multiple drives, longer data transmission, and the ability to instantly connect cables and drives. You can add your devices to your system without turning off the computer and without a short circuit.

History

Before 2000, the research of a working group looking for innovation with new device interfaces led to the storage of data storage devices with the motherboard. Thus, the transfer speeds and access speeds of the storage devices have been increased.

In the same year, a group called Serial ATA Working Group, which provided extraordinary support to invest in this project was established.

The Serial ATA II working group laid the foundations needed to standardize themselves in the market. But later, in 2004 they changed it to the International Organization for Serial ATA (SATA-IO).

In November 2001, a group of hardware manufacturers such as Intel, Dell, Maxtor, APT Technologies, and Seagate created the Seria ATA Workgroup to meet the needs of next-generation interfaces.

After improvements to the ATA-7 specification, the traditional model of the PATA interface started showing signs of exhaustion after performing well in the mid-80s.

At the same time, fiber optic and wireless connection technology have made great advances in serial communication.

The enhancements in this environment were geared towards achieving a new series of architectural specifications for the ATA interface.

The command layer is a superset of the previous ATA architecture. Therefore, since new devices are compatible with traditional ATA protocols, they are compatible with existing applications.

However, the physical layer is different, which represents a breaking point in that new SATA devices are not compatible with the previous ones.

However, it offers enough improvement to justify new architectural change.

The idea is that ATA devices of any type share a common set of commands and organize their connection in a structure with specific addresses, domains, and devices.

An organization that vaguely reminds the Internet inspired by an ATA domain has a SATA host controller and a device.

Speeds

  • In the first generation, SATA-I created 150 MB/s transfer values ​​per second.
  • The second-generation SATA-II reached 300 MB/s, also known as Serial ATA-300.
  • SATA-III reaches speeds of up to 600 MB/s.

Units supporting 3Gb/s speed are compatible with the 1.5 Gb/s bus. The table below shows the actual speed calculation of SATA-I 1.5 Gb/s and SATA-II 3 Gb/s:

Frequency
Bits/Clock
Actual Speed
SATA I
1500 MHz
1
150 MB/s
SATA II
3000 MHz
1
300 MB/s
SATA III
6000MHz
1
600 MB/s

Physical Structure

Each SATA or SAS port, multiplier, device, or adapter has a unique 64-bit port number. Briefly;

  • It includes a 4-bit NAA-coded type of MAC or barcode.
  • It contains a 24-bit manufacturer code.
  • It contains a device code that can be used by the 36-bit manufacturer.

Topology

SATA is a Point to Point architecture. That is, the connection between the port and the device is direct, each device connects directly to a controller.

Thus, each device has full bandwidth without the burden of Collision detection, such as configuring interfaces as Master and Slave in the old PATA.

The Host Controller is embedded in the main card or inserted as a card in one of its sockets, which acts as a bridge between the parallel data of the bus and the device.

There are controllers with multiple outputs to connect multiple devices.

Port multipliers are designed to increase the number of connections on a controller port to increase the number of connected devices.

In addition to the task of serializing/parallelizing data, an important part of the controller’s operation is its hot-plugging capability while the machine is running. As can be seen, there are connection and disconnection protocols that are very important in this type of interface.

The connection protocol has the ability to determine the type of connected device that determines whether the connection speed is working correctly.

Although SATA is faster than this and the devices are not supported by the bus itself, this interface has certain similarities to the USB interface.

Cables and Connectors

The type of wiring used in the SATA interface is much thinner and more dynamic than the previous PATA, which is used to make these cables much thinner, to facilitate the airflow inside the box, and to reduce the heating of the equipment.

Another advantage of this type of port is that it provides a length of up to 1 meter in the cable compared to a length of less than half a meter in its predecessor’s ATA.

Regarding the power cable, it also differs from the original ATA disks and operating voltages are lower with lower consumption.

In addition, the traditional Master/Slave configuration is not required as SATA drives are connected per port. You can only change the location of the SATA connection by configuring the boot order to the first row.

Advantages

It has a higher data transfer rate and higher bandwidth, as well as a larger capacity for future performance gains in future versions as well as architecture.

Data is also transferred more smoothly and securely and faster.

Cables are more compact, more aesthetic, and longer. It takes less space with its thin connector structure and allows a hotplug connection.

It is perfectly scalable with RAID and provides compatibility with all software and drivers that work with previous PATA interfaces.

Another major improvement over the previous system, the type of cables used is much thinner and more dynamic than the previous one, which means that the cables are much thinner, reducing the heating of the hardware to facilitate the flow of air inside the box.

Another advantage of this type of port is that it provides cable lengths up to 1 meter.

Regarding the power cable, it is also different from the original ATA disks and operating voltages are lower with lower consumption.

External SATA (eSATA – External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)

eSATA is an external version of SATA that was implemented in 2004, where SATA speeds can be achieved on external devices without having to lose the characteristics of the disks in the transition from PATA/SATA to USB/Firewire protocols.

The cable length was reduced to 2 meters and a voltage value changed. This standard is compatible with RAID and many motherboards are adapted to use devices with this interface.

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