Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between ATA and SATA

ata-connectorAT Attachment is just another name for the older IDE hard drive interface standard which was commonly referred to as ATA or Parallel ATA. The latest design uses an 80 pin cable connector that is easily recognizable due to its wideness. ATA cables have connectors at each end and another one in the middle that allows up to two devices to be connected at the same time. SATA or Serial ATA is the newer interfacing standard that is meant to replace ATA. It can be easily recognized with its much narrower cable that only allows one device to be attached per cable.

ATA is a relatively old technology that has gone over a few changes before arriving to its current state. The latest IDE devices and controllers can theoretically achieve up to 133MB/s data transfer, the actual speed can be lower; even more so when two devices attached to a single are used at the same time since only one device can transmit data at a time. Having two hard drives on a single connector could also cause problems when the jumpers that identify the master and the slave are mixed up. This problem doesn’t occur in SATA drives since there is only one drive attached to every connector.

The SATA interface was meant as an improvement over the older ATA interface. Although SATAs initial speed of 150MB/s isn’t much of an improvement, later versions that could achieve up to 300MB/s and 600MB/s makes the speed advantage totally undeniable. SATA drives are also hot-swappable, meaning you can remove and attach drives while the OS is running, which is not possible with the older ATA drives. This capability developed into eSATA which is an external implementation of SATA drives much like in USB drives. A minor advantage, though still worth mentioning, is that the inherent smallness of SATA cables makes it easier to clean up the cables inside the computer. This isn’t only good in an aesthetic point of view but it also creates lesser blockages to air circulation that cools the system.

Summary:
1. ATA cables are wider than SATA cables.
2. SATA devices are faster than ATA devices with gains ranging from 12% to 350%.
3. 2 devices per ATA cable, only one on SATA.
4. ATA drives are prone to jumper mix-ups.
5. SATA drives can be hot-swapped while ATA devices cannot.
6. SATA has an external implementation called eSATA which ATA doesn’t have.


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