A SATA Cable connects storage devices like a hard disk, optical drive, etc. in a computer to a motherboard. Earlier, all the devices used a PATA cable for the connections, but an upgraded SATA succeeded it. What is a SATA Cable, and what are its applications?
This article will explain all the features and applications of a SATA Cable to you. You’ll learn about the kind of connectors that are compatible with the cable. You’ll learn how it’s different from the PATA cable. And you’ll read about the place it holds in today’s world.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Serial ATA (SATA) Cable?
1.1 What is the SATA Cable?
The Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (also known as Serial ATA and SATA) cable is an Integrated Drive Electronics standard computer bus interface. A SATA cable connects a host bus adaptor like a motherboard to mass storage devices like optical drives, hard disk drives, and solid-state drives.
Earlier, PATA or Parallel ATA cables were the dominant interfaces for storage devices. SATA was introduced as in 2001 an update to PATA cables as they can transmit the data much faster.
A SATA cable uses a 7-pin connector that connects the hard drive to the motherboard. The same cable is also used to connect to other SSD devices. One can also connect an external hard drive to the computer with a SATA cable through the eSATA input.
1.2 Features of SATA cable
Following are the features of a SATA Cable:
Simplified Cabling: Compared to the 40-pin and 80-wire PATA, SATA uses a seven-wire cable. Not only does it reduce cost, but also eases cable routing and improves the airflow and cooling.
Robust data: The SATA cable uses a differential transmit pair, and a differential receives pair. That accounts for a higher degree of error detection and correction, as well as high-speed data transfers.
Hot Plug: Hotplugging enables the insertion/removal of a device from the connector while the power is on. The devices install and operate normally as soon as it’s connected to the computer. SATA cable supports hot-plugging by design.
1.3 SATA VS PATA
PATA, also known as Parallel ATA, is also an IDE standard for connecting storage devices to the motherboard. Earlier known as ATA, the cables were renamed to parallel ATA after serial ATA was produced.
Compared to the 100 MBps of the fastest PATA, SATA has a much faster transfer rate of 150 MBps. Apart from that, SATA has several advantages over PATA. SATA drives have an independent bus. They also use thinner cables that support better airflow. SATA cables are also longer than the PATA cables and can go up to one meter. It gives the manufacturers more liberty while designing the layout inside the computer.
SATA also uses only seven conductors compared to the 40 of PATA. It decreases the potential electromagnetic interference that the devices may have. SATA also supports hot plugging in the devices, which means that one can remove a device without switching off the computer. But the entire computer needs to shut down before plugging off a PATA device.
However, SATA cables also have a few disadvantages against a PATA cable. A SATA cable has only one device connected to it whereas a PATA cable can have two. Though most operating systems support SATA, the older ones like Windows 95 and 98 don’t. Some of the SATA cables also need a special device driver before data transmission.
We’ve learned about the SATA cables and how they’re different from the PATA cables. We will not further study their applications.
Chapter 2: The Applications of SATA Cable
SATA cables are used for both data transmission and to provide power to the data drives and SSDs. In this chapter, we’ll take a look at different types of SATA Cables and their applications.
2.1 SATA Cable for SSD
SSD are storage devices that work faster than traditional and mechanical hard drives. These drives don’t have performance issues as compared to the older storage devices. A SATA cable is used for connecting the SSD installed as an internal device in the computer.
A SATA cable with a power connector provides power supply to the SSD device. These cables stuck out from the SMPS of the CPU and hooked on to the connector in the SSD. These cables are known as the SSD Power cables.
2.2 SATA Cable for HDD
The Hard Disk Drive cable is a SATA cable that connects the hard disk to the motherboard. This cable is also responsible for providing the power supply to the hard disk. A hard disk consists of several inlet ports out of which, one is compatible with the SATA cable.
The ends of the SATA cable are connected to the hard disk and the SMPS of the CPU. Earlier, four-pin Molex connectors were used for these connections. But the new SATA Cables are thin and have a flat surface which maximizes the airflow inside the CPU. It ensures better performance of the HDD.
A SATA Cable can also be used to connect an external hard drive to the computer.
An external hard drive can be connected through an ESATA input. If the hard drive supports a USB input, you can also use a SATA to USB converter to connect the device to the computer.
2.3 SATA Cable for Laptop
In most laptops, the storage devices are directly attached to the motherboard. Therefore, a traditional SATA cable isn’t required. The storage devices in the laptops like HDD, SSD, etc. are connected to the breakout boards. These boards are connected to the motherboard with a ribbon-like SATA cable. These cables are thin and flat, allowing airflow in the laptop.
2.4 SATA Cable for Multimedia peripherals
The SATA cables for multimedia peripherals are power cables that connect them to the device or the power source. The cable can consist of two female ports that connect the peripheral to the CPU. Another type of cable includes a female port at one end and an AC plug at the other. They connect the peripheral directly to the power source.
2.5 SATA Cable for Mid-range servers
The SATA cables for mid-range servers have a port at both ends for the connection. One end of the cable is connected to the server and the other to the CPU. These cables are longer and have a wire-like structure that makes them more flexible. They transmit the data at a much faster rate and are very efficient.
2.6 SATA Cable for Storage systems
The SATA cables for storage system have flat ends and ribbon-like structure for internal and external connections. The flat port allows more data transfer. The ribbon-like structure promotes flexibility and airflow. It keeps the large systems from heating up and makes for an efficient flow of data.
Chapter 3: SATA Cable Connector
The SATA cable connectors are visibly different from the PATA cable connectors. They use the same connectors for the 3.5-inch hard disks for computers and the 2.5-inch disks for portable computers. Both data and power SATA connectors have a conductor pitch of 1.27 mm. These conductors need a very low insertion force for connection. They have right and left-angled connectors for ease of connection. SATA data cables for motherboards come with locks on their female ports to prevent accidental unplugging.
Following are the features of the SATA cable connectors:
3.1 SATA DATA Cable Connector
A SATA Data cable has 8mm wide wafer connectors on each end. These connectors have seven conductors and can be up to one meter long. These connectors have their either ends connected to the motherboard and the hard drive. In comparison, PATA cables are 45 cm long and have a ribbon-like structure. They can also connect one motherboard to one or two hard drives.
The SATA connectors are easier to fit in less surface area and give more room for cooling. The connectors with locks hold the plug in the socket and reduce the risk of accidental unplugging. The differential signalling in the SATA connectors reduces the loss of data during data transfer.
3.2 SATA Power Cable Connector
The SATA power connector is different from the four-pin Molex connector used with a PATA cable. The SATA power cable connector consists of a wider wafer-type connector with 15 pins. The earlier versions of this connector also included the four-pin Molex connector.
These connectors supply an additional 3.3 V along with the traditional 5V and 12V. Three parallel pins supply each of these voltages. These pins help reduce impedance and increase current capability.
Chapter 4: Types of SATA Cable
These are wires that connect to your computer or laptop externally and aren’t longer than 2 metres.
4.2. Low Profile SATA:
If you’re low on space and have a long graphics card, you’ll need this. These low profile connectors can work magic.
4.3. Micro SATA:
Designed for internal drives, this Micro SATA cable ensures that backplane operations are a breeze.
4.4. SATA Bracket:
These are dual port expansion brackets that aim to make your computer work with ESATA drives.
4.5 SATA Bridge:
If you have an ATA device that you’re looking to connect to a SATA motherboard or a PCI card, you will need this.
4.6 SATA Power:
These are power and data cables that are designed to work with power adaptors, extensions and splitters without a hiccup.
If you’re looking for standard SATA cables, this is what you need. You can find them in different lengths too, so take a pick according to what you are looking for.
Chapter 5: More about SATA Cable & Connectors
A SATA cable can also be used to connect external drives. The SATA drives can also be plugged into SAS controllers and communicate similarly. There are also several SATA connectors that can convert an old IDE device into a SATA device. There are also converters that make a SATA cable compatible with a USB port.
5.1 External SATA Cable (eSATA Cable)
External hard drives can also be connected to the computer the same way the internal ones can. If the hard drive has a SATA cable port, an external SATA cable (eSATA) is used for it the connection. An eSATA port opening is on the computer right next to the ones for the monitor, network cable, and USBs. This port is connected to the motherboard inside the computer, like a usual SATA connection.
The SATA cables are also hot-swappable and can be taken off when the power is on. However, unlike SATA cables, they only transfer data and not power. Thus, an eSATA cable requires a separate power adaptor plugged into the wall for its functioning. The ESATA cables also have a different connector as compared to the SATA ones. It prevents the use of SATA cables for external purposes.
5.2 SATA Converter Cables
Many old devices aren’t compatible with SATA cables and still use the Molex connectors. Thus, you can use Molex converter cables that provide power to the internal 15-pin connection of the SATA cable. Similarly, a lot of new hard drives come with USB ports than SATA ones. Thus, you can make use of a SATA to USB converter cable. This cable helps you in backing up the files on the drive, browse the data, as well as clean it.
5.3 SATA Extension Cable
A usual SATA cable is about 1 meter long and works well for an internal connection. However, upgrading or building a new connection demands more flexibility. As a result, stretching or straining as the old cable can cause damage to the system.
A SATA power and data extension cable can stretch up to 1 foot. The cable helps in overcoming the limitations of a typical connection. It also reduces the risk of damaging the motherboard or the drive. It also helps in extending the backplane adaptor connections and drive dock connections.
5.4 SATA To USB Cable
Now, you need a USB cable for pretty much everything. Wouldn’t it be great to add in SATA to a USB cable? While USB cables may be long, what do you do if you need a SATA connection? It could be for a laptop data transfer or to use with your SSD drive. A SATA to USB cable will make things easier for you, working with your laptops and other devices seamlessly.
Chapter 6: How Important is SATA Today?
SATA cable was one of the most used cables in the early 2000s in the PC. However, the world has moved on to faster standards like PCI-express for its storage connections. The laptops, too, come with built-in memory for their devices.
SATA cables are still important for larger hard drives and multi-terabyte SSDs. But options like M.2 and NVMe give better performance for a high price range. Plugging into a PCI-express slot also reduces the hassles of a SATA cabling and gives a faster data rate.
SATA cables play an essential role in powering up as well as transmitting data between the storage devices and the computer. But, with time, these standards are being replaced by better and faster alternatives.
In this article, you’ve learned all about SATA cables and their applications. We help our clients learn more about SATA cables and help in choosing the right ones for their devices. If you have any further questions, please contact us.