In the informatics world, SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. This type of cable is part of the standard types of Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) connections.
SATA is the most advanced standard type of IDE. By the time It was released in 2001, little by little, it had replaced the Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA) data cable. Currently, SATA cable is the predominant and more advantageous one for new electronic devices.
In practical terms, if you want to know what is a SATA cable, you need to place it as part of the components of personal or portable computers. It is a data cable that connects storage devices such as hard drives or optical drives to the mainboard. And, its function is to transfer data from one place to another. Also, it needs to follow The IDE standards.
Advantages of a SATA cable
Since it was released, this type of cable surpassed the benefits of its predecessor, the PATA cable due to these advantages:
- More cable length: its size is longer than a PATA cable, which allows more flexibility when you install it.
- Increased airflow: despite being longer, its overall size is smaller. Because of it, it occupies less space into the computer and allows more airflow.
- More data transfer speed: speed is the most important feature of SATA cables. By the time it was released the first time, it had 50% more speed than PATA cables. With time, this speed increased even more and allowed easy and fast data exchange for images, games, and bulky documents.
- More SATA connections available on the motherboard: it allows you to connect several hard drives at the same time.
- The price is very affordable
Disadvantages of a SATA cable
Despite having numerous advantages, a SATA cable still has some problems as follows:
- One hard drive per cable: it means that you can only connect one hard drive with one cable. On the contrary, a PATA cable allows two hard drives.
- Support: as SATA was released in the year 2000, it doesn´t support older operating systems Windows 95 and 98.
Types of SATA Cables
Currently, there are two types of SATA cables. Firstly, the SATA data cable. Although this is the most extended and widely used, there is also a SATA power connector. Their functions are equally aimed to pull data from one device to another. But the SATA power connector is necessary to connect a hard drive. To do so, you need to connect the SATA data cable to the motherboard and the SATA power connector to the power source. In other cases, the SATA data cable can complete the task without having to connect to the power source.
The architecture of a SATA cable
The architecture of both types of SATA cables is similar. But each one has a different number of pins. A SATA data cable contains seven conductors. So, if you wonder how many pins does a SATA cable have, you find out that there are 7 pins. In other words, each conductor has its pin.
Also, both ends have wafer connectors, which are flat, thin, and 8 mm wide. Commonly, one of the ends is made at a 90° angle or “L” shape to avoid any break when installing it. It comes in different lengths and may reach up to 1 meter. When the measure exceeds this limit of length, the data transfer may slow down. When it comes to SATA power connector, Engineers built it in the same way, but it has 15 conductors and, therefore, 15 pins.
How does a SATA data cable work?
From the seven conductors, 2 of them are for sending data, and the other two are for receiving data. The rest of the work to reduce the interference between the signals. You have to plug one side of the cable into connectors on the mainboard, and the other side plugs into the back of the drive. After that, the data travels through the cable.
How does a SATA power cable work?
To connect the computer power supply to the drives, the SATA power cable has to provide power to the optical or hard drive. The voltage levels must be 3.3, 5, 12 volts, and each of those voltages has 3 conductors with their 3 pins. The rest of the conductors make up the balance among all 15 pins.
Versions of SATA cables
After the first release of the SATA cable in 2001, other versions were released. Every version is the result of a revision by the Serial ATA International Organization. Until now, these are the versions available.
SATA I: it was released in 2003, and its speed transfer is 150 MBs/second. Due that PATA cables were still widely in use, this version included a “bridge chip” to allow compatibility between SATA and PATA cables. Currently, it is out of use, and only old models of computers carry this version.
SATA II: it was released in 2004, and its speed transfer is 300 MBs/second. Besides increasing the speed transfer, it introduced Native Command Queuing (NCQ). This innovative command allows hard disk drives to reduce their unnecessary movement and improve their performance. Nowadays, it is still the most widely used version. And, it received several revisions in 2005 and 2007 to introduce several features but keeping the speed transfer.
SATA III: Released in 2009 with an increased speed transfer of 600 MBs/second. Also, it introduced and changed some features. All its features have the aim to improve video streaming. The development of this version has been crucial to the success of platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and similar. Due to its high speed and performance, it requires better and more powerful chips. Besides the video streaming, it is not as widely used as the SATA II. And, it received several revisions in 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2018.
Data transfer speed
The major advantage of a SATA cable relies on the increased data transfer speed it offers when compared with other cables. It may reach up to 150/300/600 MBs/second, depending on the version. This super speed allows large documents and images to load faster than never before. Also, gaming experiences become smoother due to their speed to load all the characters and images of the games.
SATA cables for Hard drives
SATA cables are the preferred option to install new hard drives. That is due to their convenience, easy installation, and affordable price.
How to install a Hard drive with a SATA cable
Once you made your decision to install your new hard drive and buy a SATA data cable, then you are ready to install it, this is how you can do it:
- Remove pre-installed power and data cables from your computer
- Remove the drive by sliding it from its place. It there are additional cables or screws, remove them too.
- Insert the new drive into the cage
- If you have an old model of computer, you will need to use a SATA power cable to convert the energy from that model
- Connect the SATA data cable into the motherboard
- After connecting al the SATA cables, make sure they are all tide and secure
- Boot the computer up and format the drive to start using it
Current uses of SATA cables
Nowadays, SATA cables are still a terrific option to connect hard drives and storage drives. However, new tech developments include built-in memories for laptops, and little by little SATA cables started to lose importance. Due to its speed and high capacity to transfer data, it is still one of the best options for the largest hard drives and multi-terabyte SSDs.
Where to buy a SATA cable
After checking the benefits of SATA cable, it wouldn´t be strange that you wonder where can I buy a SATA cable? Well, there is excellent news! SATA data cables and SATA power connector cables are widely available in many computer stores. Also, you can find them online in many of those stores or Amazon. Prices vary from store to another, but in general, they are very affordable.
Due to the high amount of data that we handle these days, if you wanted to know what is a SATA cable, you are going on the right path. These types of cables are the best solution to update the hard drive of your computer and increase its storage capacity. There is no excuse for not having a large storage capacity. Also, the high speed to perform its task makes it ideal for daily activities. Although it is not the only option in the market, it does is one of the most affordable and most comfortable to install. Besides, its new versions increased even more what you can do with them.