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Difference Between Ultra ATA and SATA

Ultra ATA vs SATA

Computing technology improvements have always been defined by developments of faster processors, RAMS, and video cards. There is one device often left neglected yet still progressively evolving by leaps and bounds and these are hard drives and how they work.

Computer users are now in demand of faster hard drive throughput because of various computer activities that has now become a common hobby or interest by many ‘“ e.g. digital video/audio editing and playback, extensive file-sharing and other data transfer-reliant applications.

Hard drives and other various storage devices like CD-ROM are connected to a computer’s motherboard. This linking uses common standards for seamless electronic communication between two devices. ATA, short for Advanced Technology Attachment is such standard.

ATA is sometimes called IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics). ATA types of drives had been a standard since the late 80’s. It has gone through a lot of improvements to increase overall performance, notably transfer speeds and cache sizes.

Ultra ATA is still parallel ATA but an improvement or extension of past PATA (Parallel ATA) interfaces. It is backwards compatible with the past PATA versions as well. The architecture is said to be much more improved with higher transfer speeds.

Ultra ATA is an ATA version with burst mode capabilities that can have 33.3 Mbps data transfer rates. However, to have this advantage, you must equip your system with UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access). It is a protocol that enables such means.

However, the industry engineers have found that parallel implementations of ATA technology has maxed out its limitations and there is no way to go about it but look in another direction thus, the birth Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA).

In a nutshell, Serial ATA or SATA is basically a serial implementation of the ATA technology since ATA has been originally a parallel concept. It is said that with such U-turn in terms of design, the limits will extend and at least, in theory, dwarf the capabilities of Ultra ATA standards.

Unlike PATA devices, SATA can be connected without shutting down the system entirely. This is called as SATA’s “Hot Swap” capabilities. The connections involved in SATA standards are less bulky but some would assert that Ultra ATA connectors are more durable.

It should be mentioned that SATA drives uses less power than Ultra ATAs. For now, SATA devices are a bit more expensive and only time will tell if they will become pricier.


1. Ultra ATA is essentially a parallel ATA type while SATA is obviously serial in design.

2. Ultra ATA can be loosely considered as an IDE device while SATA is far from being considered as IDE since it is in serial.

3. In general, SATA has better performance based on data transfer rates.

4. SATA is now being considered as the next frontier of ATA technology.

5. SATA has less bulky connectors and draws less power than Ultra ATAs.

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