Serial ATA (SATA, abbreviated from Serial AT Attachment) is a
computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage
devices such as hard disk drives, optical drives, and solid-state
Serial ATA succeeded the older
Parallel ATA (PATA)
standard,[a] offering several advantages over the older interface:
reduced cable size and cost (seven conductors instead of 40 or 80),
native hot swapping, faster data transfer through higher signaling
rates, and more efficient transfer through an (optional)
protocol. Although, a number of hot plug PATA offering were first
invented and marketed by
Core International beginning in the late
1980s for the
Micro Channel architecture
Micro Channel architecture bus controllers.
Before SATA's introduction in 2000, PATA was simply known as ATA.
The "AT Attachment" (ATA) name originated after the 1984 release of
the IBM Personal
Computer AT, more commonly known as the IBM AT.
The IBM AT’s controller interface became a de facto industry
interface for the inclusion of hard disks. "AT" was IBM's abbreviation
for "Advanced Technology"; thus, many companies and organizations
indicate SATA is an abbreviation of "Serial Advanced Technology
Attachment". However, the ATA specifications simply use the name "AT
Attachment", to avoid possible trademark issues with IBM.
SATA host adapters and devices communicate via a high-speed serial
cable over two pairs of conductors. In contrast, parallel ATA (the
redesignation for the legacy ATA specifications) uses a 16-bit wide
data bus with many additional support and control signals, all
operating at a much lower frequency. To ensure backward compatibility
with legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same basic
ATA and ATAPI command sets as legacy ATA devices.
SATA has replaced parallel ATA in consumer desktop and laptop
computers; SATA's market share in the desktop PC market was 99% in
2008. PATA has mostly been replaced by SATA for any use; with PATA
in declining use in industrial and embedded applications that use
CompactFlash (CF) storage, which was designed around the legacy PATA
standard. A 2008 standard,
CFast to replace
CompactFlash is based on
Serial ATA industry compatibility specifications originate from the
Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). The
collaboratively creates, reviews, ratifies, and publishes the
interoperability specifications, the test cases and plugfests. As with
many other industry compatibility standards, the SATA content
ownership is transferred to other industry bodies: primarily the
T13 subcommittee ATA, the
T10 subcommittee (SCSI), a
subgroup of T10 responsible for Serial Attached
SCSI (SAS). The
remainder of this article strives to use the
SATA-IO terminology and
1.1 Hot plug
1.2 Advanced Host Controller Interface
2.1 SATA revision 1.0 (1.5 Gbit/s, 150 MB/s, Serial ATA-150)
2.2 SATA revision 2.0 (3 Gbit/s, 300 MB/s, Serial ATA-300)
2.2.1 SATA revision 2.5
2.2.2 SATA revision 2.6
2.3 SATA revision 3.0 (6 Gbit/s, 600 MB/s, Serial ATA-600)
2.3.1 SATA revision 3.1
2.3.2 SATA revision 3.2 (16 Gbit/s, 1969 MB/s)
2.3.3 SATA revision 3.3
3 Cables, connectors, and ports
3.1 Data connector
3.2 Power connectors
3.2.1 Standard connector
3.2.2 Slimline connector
3.2.3 Micro connector
3.3.2 Pre-standard implementations
3.4 Mini-SATA (mSATA)
3.5 SFF-8784 connector
3.6 SATA Express
4.1 Physical layer
4.2 Link layer
4.3 Transport layer
6 Backward and forward compatibility
6.1 SATA and PATA
6.2 SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 3 Gbit/s
6.3 SATA 3 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s
6.4 SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s
7 Comparison to other interfaces
7.1 SATA and SCSI
7.2 Comparison with other buses
8 See also
11 External links
SATA 6 Gbit/s controller, a
PCI Express ×1 card with Marvell
Serial ATA Spec requires SATA device hot plugging; that is,
devices that meet the specification are capable of insertion / removal
of a device into / from a backplane connector (combined signal and
power) that has power on. After insertion, the device initializes and
then operates normally. Depending upon the operating system the host
may also initialize resulting in a hot swap. The powered host or
device are not necessarily in a quiescent state.
Unlike PATA, both SATA and eSATA support hotplugging by design.
However, this feature requires proper support at the host, device
(drive), and operating-system levels. In general, all SATA devices
(drives) support hotplugging (due to the requirements on the
device-side), also most SATA host adapters support this function.
Advanced Host Controller Interface
Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is an open host controller
interface published and used by Intel, which has become a de facto
standard. It allows the use of advanced features of SATA such as
hotplug and native command queuing (NCQ). If
AHCI is not enabled by
the motherboard and chipset, SATA controllers typically operate in
"IDE[b] emulation" mode, which does not allow access to device
features not supported by the ATA (also called IDE) standard.
Windows device drivers that are labeled as SATA are often running in
IDE emulation mode unless they explicitly state that they are AHCI
RAID mode, or a mode provided by a proprietary driver and
command set that allowed access to SATA's advanced features before
AHCI became popular. Modern versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X,
FreeBSD, Linux with version 2.6.19 onward, as well as Solaris and
OpenSolaris, include support for AHCI, but older operating systems
Windows XP do not. Even in those instances, a proprietary
driver may have been created for a specific chipset, such as
SATA revisions are often designated with a dash followed by roman
numerals, e.g. "SATA-III", to avoid confusion with the speed,
which is always displayed in Arabic numerals, e.g. "SATA 6 Gbit/s".
SATA revision 1.0 (1.5 Gbit/s, 150 MB/s, Serial
Revision 1.0a was released on January 7, 2003. First-generation
SATA interfaces, now known as SATA 1.5 Gbit/s, communicate at a
rate of 1.5 Gbit/s,[c] and do not support Native Command Queuing
8b/10b encoding overhead into account, they have an
actual uncoded transfer rate of 1.2 Gbit/s (150 MB/s). The
theoretical burst throughput of SATA 1.5 Gbit/s is similar to that of
PATA/133, but newer SATA devices offer enhancements such as NCQ, which
improve performance in a multitasking environment.
During the initial period after SATA 1.5 Gbit/s finalization,
adapter and drive manufacturers used a "bridge chip" to convert
existing PATA designs for use with the SATA interface. Bridged drives
have a SATA connector, may include either or both kinds of power
connectors, and, in general, perform identically to their native-SATA
equivalents. However, most bridged drives lack support for some
SATA-specific features such as NCQ. Native SATA products quickly took
over the bridged products with the introduction of the second
generation of SATA drives.
As of April 2010[update], the fastest 10,000 rpm SATA hard
disk drives could transfer data at maximum (not average) rates of up
to 157 MB/s, which is beyond the capabilities of the older
PATA/133 specification and also exceeds the capabilities of SATA
SATA revision 2.0 (3 Gbit/s, 300 MB/s, Serial ATA-300)
SATA revision 2.0 was released in April 2004, introducing Native
Command Queuing (NCQ). It is backward compatible with SATA
Second-generation SATA interfaces run with a native transfer rate of
3.0 Gbit/s that, when accounted for the
8b/10b encoding scheme,
equals to the maximum uncoded transfer rate of 2.4 Gbit/s
(300 MB/s). The theoretical burst throughput of the SATA revision
2.0, which is also known as the SATA 3 Gbit/s, doubles the
throughput of SATA revision 1.0.
All SATA data cables meeting the SATA spec are rated for
3.0 Gbit/s and handle modern mechanical drives without any loss
of sustained and burst data transfer performance. However,
high-performance flash-based drives can exceed the SATA 3 Gbit/s
transfer rate; this is addressed with the SATA 6 Gbit/s
SATA revision 2.5
Announced in August 2005, SATA revision 2.5 consolidated the
specification to a single document.
SATA revision 2.6
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November
Announced in February 2007, SATA revision 2.6 introduced the following
SATA revision 3.0 (6 Gbit/s, 600 MB/s, Serial ATA-600)
Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) presented the draft
specification of SATA 6 Gbit/s physical layer in July 2008,
and ratified its physical layer specification on August 18, 2008.
The full 3.0 standard was released on May 27, 2009.
Third-generation SATA interfaces run with a native transfer rate of
6.0 Gbit/s; taking
8b/10b encoding into account, the maximum
uncoded transfer rate is 4.8 Gbit/s (600 MB/s). The
theoretical burst throughput of SATA 6.0 Gbit/s is double that of
SATA revision 2.0. It is backward compatible with SATA
The SATA 3.0 specification contains the following changes:
6 Gbit/s for scalable performance.
Continued compatibility with SAS, including SAS 6 Gbit/s, as per
"a SAS domain may support attachment to and control of unmodified SATA
devices connected directly into the SAS domain using the Serial ATA
Tunneled Protocol (STP)" from the SATA Revision 3.0 Gold
Native Command Queuing
Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command to enable
isochronous quality of service data transfers for streaming digital
An NCQ management feature that helps optimize performance by enabling
host processing and management of outstanding NCQ commands.
Improved power management capabilities.
A small low insertion force (LIF) connector for more compact 1.8-inch
A 7 mm optical disk drive profile for the slimline SATA connector
(in addition to the existing 12.7 mm and 9.5 mm profiles).
Alignment with the
INCITS ATA8-ACS standard.
In general, the enhancements are aimed at improving quality of service
for video streaming and high-priority interrupts. In addition, the
standard continues to support distances up to one meter. The newer
speeds may require higher power consumption for supporting chips,
though improved process technologies and power management techniques
may mitigate this. The later specification can use existing SATA
cables and connectors, though it was reported in 2008 that some OEMs
were expected to upgrade host connectors for the higher speeds.
SATA revision 3.1
Released in July 2011, SATA revision 3.1 introduced or changed the
mSATA, SATA for solid-state drives in mobile computing devices, a PCI
Express Mini Card-like connector that is electrically SATA.
Zero-power optical disk drive, idle SATA optical drive draws no power.
TRIM Command, improves solid-state drive performance.
Required Link Power Management, reduces overall system power demand of
several SATA devices.
Hardware Control Features, enable host identification of device
Universal Storage Module (USM), a new standard for cableless plug-in
(slot) powered storage for consumer electronics devices.
SATA revision 3.2 (16 Gbit/s, 1969 MB/s)
Released in August 2013, SATA revision 3.2 introduced the following
SATA Express specification defines an interface that combines both
PCI Express buses, making it possible for legacy SATA and PCI
Express storage devices to coexist; see the
SATA Express section below
for a more detailed summary.
M.2 standard is a small form factor implementation of the
SATA Express interface, with the addition of an internal
USB 3.0 port;
M.2 (NGFF) section below for a more detailed summary.
microSSD introduces a ball grid array electrical interface for
miniaturized, embedded SATA storage.
USM Slim reduces thickness of Universal Storage Module (USM) from 14.5
millimetres (0.57 inches) to 9 millimetres (0.35 inches).
DevSleep enables lower power consumption for always-on devices while
they are in low-power modes such as
InstantGo (which used to be known
as Connected Standby).
Hybrid Information provides higher performance for solid-state hybrid
SATA revision 3.3
Released in February 2016, SATA revision 3.3 introduced the following
Shingled magnetic recording (SMR) support that provides a 25 percent
or greater increase in hard disk drive capacity by overlapping tracks
on the media.
Power Disable feature allows for remote power cycling of SATA drives
and a Rebuild Assist function that speeds up the rebuild process to
help ease maintenance in the data center.
Transmitter Emphasis Specification increases interoperability and
reliability between host and devices in electrically demanding
An activity indicator and staggered spin-up can be controlled by the
same pin, adding flexibility and providing users with more choices.
The new Power Disable feature (similar to the SAS Power Disable
feature) uses Pin 3 of the SATA power connector. Some legacy power
supplies that provide 3.3V power on Pin 3 would force drives with
Power Disable feature to get stuck in a hard reset condition
preventing them from spinning up. The problem can usually be
eliminated by using a simple “Molex to SATA” power adaptor to
supply power to these drives.
Cables, connectors, and ports
2.5-inch SATA drive on top of a 3.5-inch SATA drive, close-up of data
and power connectors
Connectors and cables present the most visible differences between
SATA and parallel ATA drives. Unlike PATA, the same connectors are
used on 3.5-inch (89 mm) SATA hard disks (for desktop and server
computers) and 2.5-inch (64 mm) disks (for portable or small
Standard SATA connectors for both data and power have a conductor
pitch of 1.27 mm (0.050 inches).
Low insertion force
Low insertion force is required
to mate a SATA connector. A smaller mini-SATA or mSATA connector is
used by smaller devices such as 1.8-inch SATA drives, some DVD and
Blu-ray drives, and mini SSDs.
A special eSATA connector is specified for external devices, and an
optionally implemented provision for clips to hold internal connectors
firmly in place. SATA drives may be plugged into SAS controllers and
communicate on the same physical cable as native SAS disks, but SATA
controllers cannot handle SAS disks.
Female SATA ports (on motherboards for example) are for use with SATA
data cables that have locks or clips to prevent accidental unplugging.
Some SATA cables have right- or left-angled connectors to ease
connection to circuit boards.
SATA Express connectors
Standard connector, data segment
The SATA standard defines a data cable with seven conductors (three
grounds and four active data lines in two pairs) and 8 mm wide
wafer connectors on each end. SATA cables can have lengths up to 1
metre (3.3 ft), and connect one motherboard socket to one hard
drive. PATA ribbon cables, in comparison, connect one motherboard
socket to one or two hard drives, carry either 40 or 80 wires, and are
limited to 45 centimetres (18 in) in length by the PATA
specification; however, cables up to 90 centimetres (35 in) are
readily available. Thus, SATA connectors and cables are easier to fit
in closed spaces and reduce obstructions to air cooling. Although they
are more susceptible to accidental unplugging and breakage than PATA,
users can purchase cables that have a locking feature, whereby a small
(usually metal) spring holds the plug in the socket.
SATA connectors may be straight, right-angled, or left angled. Angled
connectors allow lower-profile connections. Right-angled (also called
90-degree) connectors lead the cable immediately away from the drive,
on the circuit-board side. Left-angled (also called 270-degree)
connectors lead the cable across the drive towards its top.
One of the problems associated with the transmission of data at high
speed over electrical connections is described as noise, which is due
to electrical coupling between data circuits and other circuits. As a
result, the data circuits can both affect other circuits and be
affected by them. Designers use a number of techniques to reduce the
undesirable effects of such unintentional coupling. One such technique
used in SATA links is differential signaling. This is an enhancement
over PATA, which uses single-ended signaling. The use of fully
shielded twin-ax conductors, with multiple ground connections, for
each differential pair improves isolation between the channels and
reduces the chances of lost data in difficult electrical environments.
A seven-pin SATA data cable (left-angled version of the connector)
SATA connector on a 3.5-inch hard drive, with data pins on the left
and power pins on the right. The two different pin lengths ensure a
specific mating order; the longer lengths are ground pins and make
SATA 3.0 (6 Gbit/s) cable showing fully shielded twin-ax
Standard connector, power segment
3.3 V Power
Enter/exit Power Disable (PWDIS) mode
(3.3 V Power, Pre-charge prior to SATA 3.3)
5 V Power, Pre-charge
5 V Power
12 V Power, Pre-charge
12 V Power
A fifteen-pin SATA power connector (this particular connector is
missing the orange 3.3 V wire)
SATA specifies a different power connector than the four-pin Molex
connector used on
Parallel ATA (PATA) devices (and earlier small
storage devices, going back to
ST-506 hard disk drives and even to
floppy disk drives that predated the IBM PC). It is a wafer-type
connector, like the SATA data connector, but much wider (fifteen pins
versus seven) to avoid confusion between the two. Some early SATA
drives included the four-pin Molex power connector together with the
new fifteen-pin connector, but most SATA drives now have only the
The new SATA power connector contains many more pins for several
3.3 V is supplied along with the traditional 5 V and
12 V supplies. However, very few drives actually use it, so they
may be powered from a four-pin
Molex connector with an adapter.
Pin 3 in SATA revision 3.3 has been redefined as PWDIS and is used to
enter and exit the POWER DISABLE mode for compatibility with SAS
specification. If Pin 3 is driven HIGH (2.1–3.6 V max), power
to the drive circuitry is disabled. Drives with this feature do not
power up in systems designed to SATA revision 3.1 or earlier. This is
because Pin 3 driven HIGH prevents the drive from powering up.
To reduce impedance and increase current capability, each voltage is
supplied by three pins in parallel, though one pin in each group is
intended for precharging (see below). Each pin should be able to carry
Five parallel pins provide a low-impedance ground connection.
Two ground pins and one pin for each supplied voltage support hot-plug
precharging. Ground pins 4 and 12 in a hot-swap cable are the longest,
so they make contact first when the connectors are mated. Drive power
connector pins 3, 7, and 13 are longer than the others, so they make
contact next. The drive uses them to charge its internal bypass
capacitors through current-limiting resistances. Finally, the
remaining power pins make contact, bypassing the resistances and
providing a low-impedance source of each voltage. This two-step mating
process avoids glitches to other loads and possible arcing or erosion
of the SATA power-connector contacts.
Pin 11 can function for staggered spinup, activity indication, both,
or nothing. It is an open-collector signal, which may be pulled down
by the connector or the drive. If pulled down at the connector (as it
is on most cable-style SATA power connectors), the drive spins up as
soon as power is applied. If left floating, the drive waits until it
is spoken to. This prevents many drives from spinning up
simultaneously, which might draw too much power. The pin is also
pulled low by the drive to indicate drive activity. This may be used
to give feedback to the user through an LED.
Passive adapters are available that convert a four-pin Molex connector
to a SATA power connector, providing the 5 V and 12 V lines
available on the Molex connector, but not 3.3 V. There are also
four-pin Molex-to-SATA power adapters that include electronics to
additionally provide the 3.3 V power supply. However, most
drives do not require the 3.3 V power line.
Slimline connector, power segment
5 V Power
SATA 2.6 is the first revision that defined the slimline
connector, intended for smaller form-factors such as notebook optical
drives. Pin 1 of the slimline power connector, denoting device
presence, is shorter than the others to allow hot-swapping. The
slimline signal connector is identical and compatible with the
standard version, while the power connector is reduced to six pins so
it supplies only +5 V, and not +12 V or +3.3 V.
Low-cost adapters exist to convert from standard SATA to slimline
A six-pin slimline SATA power connector
The back of a SATA-based slimline optical drive
Micro connector, power segment
3.3 V Power
5 V Power
A 1.8-inch (46 mm) micro SATA hard drive with numbered data and
power pins on the connector.
The micro SATA connector (sometimes called uSATA or μSATA)
originated with SATA 2.6, and is intended for 1.8-inch
(46 mm) hard disk drives. There is also a micro data connector,
similar in appearance but slightly thinner than the standard data
Not to be confused with SATAe.
The official eSATA logo
SATA (left) and eSATA (right) connectors
Standardized in 2004, eSATA (e standing for external) provides a
variant of SATA meant for external connectivity. It uses a more robust
connector, longer shielded cables, and stricter (but
backward-compatible) electrical standards. The protocol and logical
signaling (link/transport layers and above) are identical to internal
SATA. The differences are:
Minimum transmit amplitude increased: Range is 500–600 mV
instead of 400–600 mV.
Minimum receive amplitude decreased: Range is 240–600 mV
instead of 325–600 mV.
Maximum cable length increased to 2 metres (6.6 ft) from 1 metre
The eSATA cable and connector is similar to the SATA 1.0a cable and
connector, with these exceptions:
The eSATA connector is mechanically different to prevent unshielded
internal cables from being used externally. The eSATA connector
discards the "L"-shaped key and changes the position and size of the
The eSATA insertion depth is deeper: 6.6 mm instead of 5 mm.
The contact positions are also changed.
The eSATA cable has an extra shield to reduce EMI to FCC and CE
requirements. Internal cables do not need the extra shield to satisfy
EMI requirements because they are inside a shielded case.
The eSATA connector uses metal springs for shield contact and
The eSATA connector has a design-life of 5,000 matings; the ordinary
SATA connector is only specified for 50.
Aimed at the consumer market, eSATA enters an external storage market
served also by the
FireWire interfaces. The SATA interface has
certain advantages. Most external hard-disk-drive cases with FireWire
USB interfaces use either PATA or SATA drives and "bridges" to
translate between the drives' interfaces and the enclosures' external
ports; this bridging incurs some inefficiency. Some single disks can
transfer 157 MB/s during real use, about four times the
maximum transfer rate of
USB 2.0 or
FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) and
almost twice as fast as the maximum transfer rate of
FireWire 800. The
FireWire 1394b specification reaches around 400 MB/s
(3.2 Gbit/s), and
USB 3.0 has a nominal speed of 5 Gbit/s.
Some low-level drive features, such as S.M.A.R.T., may not operate
through some USB or
FireWire or USB+
FireWire bridges; eSATA does
not suffer from these issues provided that the controller manufacturer
(and its drivers) presents eSATA drives as ATA devices, rather than as
SCSI devices, as has been common with Silicon Image, JMicron, and
NVIDIA nForce drivers for Windows Vista. In those cases SATA drives do
not have low-level features accessible.
The eSATA version of SATA 6G operates at 6.0 Gbit/s (the
term "SATA III" is avoided by the
SATA-IO organization to prevent
confusion with SATA II 3.0 Gbit/s, which was colloquially
referred to as "SATA 3G" [bit/s] or "SATA 300" [MB/s] since
the 1.5 Gbit/s SATA I and 1.5 Gbit/s SATA II were
referred to as both "SATA 1.5G" [bit/s] or "SATA 150"
[MB/s]). Therefore, eSATA connections operate with negligible
differences between them. Once an interface can transfer data as
fast as a drive can handle them, increasing the interface speed does
not improve data transfer.
There are some disadvantages, however, to the eSATA interface:
Devices built before the eSATA interface became popular lack external
For small form-factor devices (such as external 2.5-inch (64 mm)
disks), a PC-hosted
FireWire link can usually supply sufficient
power to operate the device. However, eSATA connectors cannot supply
power, and require a power supply for the external device. The related
eSATAp (but mechanically incompatible, sometimes called eSATA/USB)
connector adds power to an external SATA connection, so that an
additional power supply is not needed.
As of mid 2017 few new computers have dedicated external SATA (eSATA)
connectors, with USB3 dominating and USB3 Type C, often with the
Thunderbolt replacement for the Lightning standard, starting to
replace the earlier
USB connectors. Still sometimes present are single
ports supporting both USB3 and eSATA.
Desktop computers without a built-in eSATA interface can install an
eSATA host bus adapter (HBA); if the motherboard supports SATA, an
externally available eSATA connector can be added. Notebook computers
with the now rare Cardbus or ExpressCard could add an eSATA
HBA. With passive adapters, the maximum cable length is reduced to 1
metre (3.3 ft) due to the absence of compliant eSATA
Main article: eSATAp
eSATAp stands for powered eSATA. It is also known as Power over eSATA,
Power eSATA, eSATA/
USB Combo, or eSATA
USB Hybrid Port (EUHP). An
eSATAp port combines the four pins of the USB 2.0 (or earlier)
port, the seven pins of the eSATA port, and optionally two 12 V
power pins. Both SATA traffic and device power are integrated in a
single cable, as is the case with
USB but not eSATA. The 5 V
power is provided through two
USB pins, while the 12 V power may
optionally be provided. Typically desktop, but not notebook, computers
provide 12 V power, so can power devices requiring this voltage,
typically 3.5-inch disk and CD/DVD drives, in addition to 5 V
devices such as 2.5-inch drives.
USB and eSATA devices can be used with an eSATAp port, when
plugged in with a
USB or eSATA cable, respectively. An eSATA device
cannot be powered via an eSATAp cable, but a special cable can make
both SATA or eSATA and power connectors available from an eSATAp port.
An eSATAp connector can be built into a computer with internal SATA
and USB, by fitting a bracket with connections for internal SATA, USB,
and power connectors and an externally accessible eSATAp port. Though
eSATAp connectors have been built into several devices, manufacturers
do not refer to an official standard.
Prior to the final eSATA 3 Gbit/s specification, a number of
products were designed for external connection of SATA drives. Some of
these use the internal SATA connector, or even connectors designed for
other interface specifications, such as FireWire. These products are
not eSATA compliant. The final eSATA specification features a specific
connector designed for rough handling, similar to the regular SATA
connector, but with reinforcements in both the male and female sides,
inspired by the
USB connector. eSATA resists inadvertent unplugging,
and can withstand yanking or wiggling, which could break a male SATA
connector (the hard-drive or host adapter, usually fitted inside the
computer). With an eSATA connector, considerably more force is needed
to damage the connector—and if it does break, it is likely to be the
female side, on the cable itself, which is relatively
easy to replace.
Prior to the final eSATA 6 Gbit/s specification many add-on cards
and some motherboards advertised eSATA 6 Gbit/s support because
they had 6 Gbit/s SATA 3.0 controllers for internal-only
solutions. Those implementations are non-standard, and eSATA
6 Gbit/s requirements were ratified in the July 18, 2011 SATA 3.1
specification. Some products might not be fully eSATA
6 Gbit/s compliant.
PCI Express § Mini-SATA (mSATA) variant
An mSATA SSD on top of a 2.5-inch SATA drive
Mini-SATA (abbreviated as mSATA), which is distinct from the micro
connector, was announced by the
Serial ATA International
Organization on September 21, 2009. Applications include netbooks,
laptops and other devices that require a solid-state drive in a small
The connector is similar in appearance to a
PCI Express Mini Card
interface, but is not electrically compatible; the data signals
(TX±/RX± SATA, PETn0 PETp0 PERn0 PERp0 PCI Express) need a
connection to the SATA host controller instead of the
PCI Express host
Slim 2.5-inch SATA devices, 5 mm (0.20 inches) in height, use the
twenty-pin SFF-8784 edge connector to save space. By combining the
data signals and power lines into a slim connector that effectively
enables direct connection to the device's printed circuit board (PCB)
without additional space-consuming connectors, SFF-8784 allows further
internal layout compaction for portable devices such as
Pins 1 to 10 are on the connector's bottom side, while pins 11 to 20
are on the top side.
SATA Express connectors (light gray) on a computer motherboard; to
the right of them are common SATA connectors (dark gray)
Main article: SATA Express
SATA Express, initially standardized in the SATA 3.2
specification, is an interface that supports either SATA or PCI
Express storage devices. The host connector is backward compatible
with the standard 3.5-inch SATA data connector, allowing up to two
legacy SATA devices to connect. At the same time, the host
connector provides up to two PCI Express 3.0 lanes as a pure PCI
Express connection to the storage device, allowing bandwidths of up to
Instead of the otherwise usual approach of doubling the native speed
of the SATA interface,
PCI Express was selected for achieving data
transfer speeds greater than 6 Gbit/s. It was concluded that
doubling the native SATA speed would take too much time, too many
changes would be required to the SATA standard, and would result in a
much greater power consumption when compared to the existing PCI
In addition to supporting legacy Advanced Host Controller Interface
SATA Express also makes it possible for
NVM Express (NVMe) to
be used as the logical device interface for connected PCI Express
Size comparison of mSATA (left) and
M.2 (size 2242, right) SSDs
Main article: M.2
M.2, formerly known as the
Next Generation Form Factor
Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), is a
specification for computer expansion cards and associated connectors.
It replaces the mSATA standard, which uses the
PCI Express Mini Card
physical layout. Having a smaller and more flexible physical
specification, together with more advanced features, the
M.2 is more
suitable for solid-state storage applications in general, especially
when used in small devices like ultrabooks or tablets.
M.2 standard is designed as a revision and improvement to the
mSATA standard, so that larger printed circuit boards (PCBs) can be
manufactured. While mSATA took advantage of the existing PCI Express
Mini Card form factor and connector,
M.2 has been designed to maximize
usage of the card space, while minimizing the footprint.
Supported host controller interfaces and internally provided ports are
a superset to those defined by the
SATA Express interface.
M.2 standard is a small form factor implementation of
SATA Express interface, with the addition of an internal
USB 3.0 port.
U.2, formerly known as SFF-8639. Like its predecessor it carries a PCI
Express electrical signal, however
U.2 uses a PCIe 3.0 ×4 link
providing a higher bandwidth of 32 Gbit/s in each direction.
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The SATA specification defines three distinct protocol layers:
physical, link, and transport.
The physical layer defines SATA's electrical and physical
characteristics (such as cable dimensions and parasitics, driver
voltage level and receiver operating range), as well as the physical
coding subsystem (bit-level encoding, device detection on the wire,
and link initialization).
Physical transmission uses differential signaling. The SATA PHY
contains a transmit pair and receive pair. When the SATA-link is not
in use (example: no device attached), the transmitter allows the
transmit pins to float to their common-mode voltage level. When the
SATA-link is either active or in the link-initialization phase, the
transmitter drives the transmit pins at the specified differential
voltage (1.5 V in SATA/I).
SATA physical coding uses a line encoding system known as 8b/10b
encoding. This scheme serves multiple functions required to sustain a
differential serial link. First, the stream contains necessary
synchronization information that allows the SATA host/drive to extract
clocking. The 8b/10b encoded sequence embeds periodic edge transitions
to allow the receiver to achieve bit-alignment without the use of a
separately transmitted reference clock waveform. The sequence also
maintains a neutral (DC-balanced) bitstream, which lets transmit
drivers and receiver inputs be AC-coupled. Generally, the actual SATA
signalling is half-duplex, meaning that it can only read or write data
at any one time.
Also, SATA uses some of the special characters defined in 8b/10b. In
particular, the PHY layer uses the comma (K28.5) character to maintain
symbol-alignment. A specific four-symbol sequence, the ALIGN
primitive, is used for clock rate-matching between the two devices on
the link. Other special symbols communicate flow control information
produced and consumed in the higher layers (link and transport).
AC-coupled low-voltage differential signaling
(LVDS) links are used for physical transmission between host and
The PHY layer is responsible for detecting the other SATA/device on a
cable, and link initialization. During the link-initialization
process, the PHY is responsible for locally generating special
out-of-band signals by switching the transmitter between
electrical-idle and specific 10b-characters in a defined pattern,
negotiating a mutually supported signalling rate (1.5, 3.0, or
6.0 Gbit/s), and finally synchronizing to the far-end device's
PHY-layer data stream. During this time, no data is sent from the
Once link-initialization has completed, the link-layer takes over
data-transmission, with the PHY providing only the 8b/10b conversion
before bit transmission.
After the PHY-layer has established a link, the link layer is
responsible for transmission and reception of Frame Information
Structures (FISs) over the SATA link. FISs are packets containing
control information or payload data. Each packet contains a header
(identifying its type), and payload whose contents are dependent on
the type. The link layer also manages flow control over the link.
Layer number three in the serial ATA specification is the transport
layer. This layer has the responsibility of acting on the frames and
transmitting/receiving the frames in an appropriate sequence. The
transport layer handles the assembly and disassembly of FIS
structures, which includes, for example, extracting content from
register FISs into the task-file and informing the command layer. In
an abstract fashion, the transport layer is responsible for creating
and encoding FIS structures requested by the command layer, and
removing those structures when the frames are received.
When DMA data is to be transmitted and is received from the higher
command layer, the transport layer appends the FIS control header to
the payload, and informs the link layer to prepare for transmission.
The same procedure is performed when data is received, but in reverse
order. The link layer signals to the transport layer that there is
incoming data available. Once the data is processed by the link layer,
the transport layer inspects the FIS header and removes it before
forwarding the data to the command layer.
See also: Port multiplier
SATA topology: host (H), multiplier (M), and device (D)
SATA uses a point-to-point architecture. The physical connection
between a controller and a storage device is not shared among other
controllers and storage devices. SATA defines multipliers, which
allows a single SATA controller port to drive up to fifteen storage
devices. The multiplier performs the function of a hub; the controller
and each storage device is connected to the hub. This is
conceptually similar to SAS expanders.
Modern[update] PC systems have SATA controllers built into the
motherboard, typically featuring two to eight ports. Additional ports
can be installed through add-in SATA host adapters (available in
variety of bus-interfaces: USB, PCI, PCIe).
Backward and forward compatibility
SATA and PATA
PATA hard disk with SATA converter attached.
At the hardware interface level, SATA and PATA (Parallel AT
Attachment) devices are completely incompatible: they cannot be
interconnected without an adapter.
At the application level, SATA devices can be specified to look and
act like PATA devices.
Many motherboards offer a "Legacy Mode" option, which makes SATA
drives appear to the OS like PATA drives on a standard controller.
This Legacy Mode eases OS installation by not requiring that a
specific driver be loaded during setup, but sacrifices support for
some (vendor specific) features of SATA. Legacy Mode often if not
always disables some of the boards' PATA or SATA ports, since the
standard PATA controller interface supports only four drives. (Often,
which ports are disabled is configurable.)
The common heritage of the ATA command set has enabled the
proliferation of low-cost PATA to SATA bridge chips. Bridge chips were
widely used on PATA drives (before the completion of native SATA
drives) as well in standalone converters. When attached to a PATA
drive, a device-side converter allows the PATA drive to function as a
SATA drive. Host-side converters allow a motherboard PATA port to
connect to a SATA drive.
The market has produced powered enclosures for both PATA and SATA
drives that interface to the PC through USB, Firewire or eSATA, with
the restrictions noted above. PCI cards with a SATA connector exist
that allow SATA drives to connect to legacy systems without SATA
SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 3 Gbit/s
The designers of SATA standard as an overall goal aimed for backward
and forward compatibility with future revisions of the SATA standard.
To prevent interoperability problems that could occur when next
generation SATA drives are installed on motherboards with standard
legacy SATA 1.5 Gbit/s host controllers, many manufacturers have
made it easy to switch those newer drives to the previous standard's
mode. Examples of such provisions include:
Seagate/Maxtor has added a user-accessible jumper-switch, known as the
"force 150", to enable the drive switch between forced 1.5 Gbit/s
and 1.5/3 Gbit/s negotiated operation.
Western Digital uses a jumper setting called OPT1 enabled to force
1.5 Gbit/s data transfer speed (OPT1 is enabled by putting the
jumper on pins 5 and 6).
Samsung drives can be forced to 1.5 Gbit/s mode using software
that may be downloaded from the manufacturer's website. Configuring
some Samsung drives in this manner requires the temporary use of a
SATA-2 (SATA 3.0 Gbit/s) controller while programming the drive.
The "force 150" switch (or equivalent) is also useful for attaching
SATA 3 Gbit/s hard drives to SATA controllers on PCI cards, since
many of these controllers (such as the
Silicon Image chips) run at
3 Gbit/s, even though the PCI bus cannot reach 1.5 Gbit/s
speeds. This can cause data corruption in operating systems that do
not specifically test for this condition and limit the disk transfer
SATA 3 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October
SATA 3 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s are compatible with each
other. Most devices that are only SATA 3 Gbit/s can connect with
devices that are SATA 6 Gbit/s, and vice versa, though SATA
3 Gbit/s devices only connect with SATA 6 Gbit/s devices at
the slower 3 Gbit/s speed.
SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July
SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s are compatible with each
other. Most devices that are only SATA 1.5 Gbit/s can connect
with devices that are SATA 6 Gbit/s, and vice versa, though SATA
1.5 Gbit/s devices only connect with SATA 6 Gbit/s devices
at the slower 1.5 Gbit/s speed.
Comparison to other interfaces
SATA and SCSI
SCSI uses a more complex bus than SATA, usually resulting in
higher manufacturing costs.
SCSI buses also allow connection of
several drives on one shared channel, whereas SATA allows one drive
per channel, unless using a port multiplier. Serial Attached
the same physical interconnects as SATA, and most SAS HBAs also
support 3 and 6 Gbit/s SATA devices (an HBA requires support for
Serial ATA Tunneling Protocol).
SATA 3 Gbit/s theoretically offers a maximum bandwidth of
300 MB/s per device, which is only slightly lower than the rated
SCSI Ultra 320 with a maximum of 320 MB/s total for all
devices on a bus.
SCSI drives provide greater sustained throughput
than multiple SATA drives connected via a simple (i.e., command-based)
port multiplier because of disconnect-reconnect and aggregating
performance. In general, SATA devices link compatibly to SAS
enclosures and adapters, whereas
SCSI devices cannot be directly
connected to a SATA bus.
SCSI, SAS, and fibre-channel (FC) drives are more expensive than SATA,
so they are used in servers and disk arrays where the better
performance justifies the additional cost. Inexpensive ATA and SATA
drives evolved in the home-computer market, hence there is a view that
they are less reliable. As those two worlds overlapped, the subject of
reliability became somewhat controversial. Note that, in general, the
failure rate of a disk drive is related to the quality of its heads,
platters and supporting manufacturing processes, not to its interface.
Use of serial ATA in the business market increased from 22% in 2006 to
28% in 2008.
Comparison with other buses
See also: List of device bit rates
SCSI-3 devices with SCA-2 connectors are designed for hot swapping.
Many server and
RAID systems provide hardware support for transparent
hot swapping. The designers of the
SCSI standard prior to SCA-2
connectors did not target hot swapping, but in practice, most RAID
implementations support hot swapping of hard disks.
Raw data rate
Max. cable length
Devices per channel
1 m with passive SATA adapter
1 (15 with a port multiplier)
5 V, and, optionally, 12 V
SATA revision 3.2
SATA revision 3.0
SATA revision 2.0
SATA revision 1.0
PATA (IDE) 133
0.46 m (18 in)
5 V (only 2.5-inch drive 44-pin connector)
Backplane connectors only
1 (> 65k with expanders)
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) 3200
100 m (more with special cables)
15 W, 12–25 V
63 (with a hub)
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) 800
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) 400
USB 3.1 (Generation 2)
100 W, 5, 12 or 20 V
127 (with a hub)
USB 3.0[h] (
USB 3.1, Generation 1)
400 MB/s or more (excl. protocol
overhead, flow control, and framing)
4.5 W, 5 V
2.5 W, 5 V
Backplane connector only
15 excl. host bus adapter/host
10GFC Fibre Channel
2 m – 50 km
126 (16,777,216 with switches)
4GFC Fibre Channel
5 m (copper)
<10 km (fiber)
1 with point-to-point, many with switched fabric
3 m (copper)
100 m (fiber)
10 W (only copper)
100 W (only copper)
Information technology portal
FATA (hard disk drive)
List of device bit rates
^ AT Attachment (ATA) interface was initially developed as Integrated
Drive Electronics (IDE) for use in early
PC AT equipment. With the
introduction of SATA, the AT Attachment interface was renamed to
Parallel ATA (PATA).
^ Integrated Drive Electronics
^ Disk-based memory (hard drives), solid state disk devices such as
USB drives, DVD-based storage, bit rates, bus speeds, and network
speeds, are specified using decimal meanings for K (10001), M (10002),
G (10003), ...
^ Drive present
^ 16 Gbit/s raw bit rate, with
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^ 10 Gbit/s raw bit rate, with
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Serial ATA (category)
Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO)
Serial ATA and the evolution in data storage technology,
Mohamed A. Salem
"SATA-1" specification, as a zipped pdf; Serial ATA: High Speed
Serialized AT Attachment, Revision 1.0a, 7-January-2003.
Errata and Engineering Change Notices to above "SATA-1" specification,
as a zip of pdfs
Dispelling the Confusion: SATA II does not mean 3 Gbit/s
Serial ATA – White Paper" (PDF). SATA-IO.
515 kB – on eSATA
SATA motherboard connector pinout
Serial ATA (SATA, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) Connector
Pinout". allpinouts.org. Archived from the original on
Serial ATA server and storage use cases
How to Install and Troubleshoot SATA Hard Drives
Serial ATA and the 7 Deadly Sins of Parallel ATA
Everything You Need to Know About Serial ATA
USB 3.0 vs. eSATA: Is faster better?
Universal ATA driver for Windows
NT3.51/NT4/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/ReactOS: With PATA/SATA/AHCI
support – a universal, free and open-source ATA driver with
Technical and de facto standards for wired computer buses
Network on a chip
Plug and play
List of bus bandwidths
Europe Card Bus
HP Precision Bus
HP GSC bus
PCI Extended (PCI-X)
PCI Express (PCIe)
Direct Media Interface (DMI)
Intel QuickPath Interconnect
Intel UltraPath Interconnect
Parallel ATA (PATA)
Serial ATA (SATA)
PCI Express (via
AHCI or NVMe logical device interface)
Apple Desktop Bus
IEEE-1284 (parallel port)
IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
Intel HD Audio
Interfaces are listed by their speed in the (roughly) ascending order,
so the interface at the end of each section should be the fastest.
Flash file system
Flash memory controller
IM Flash Technologies
SanDisk and Toshiba
Indilinx (bankrupt, assets sold to Toshiba)
SandForce (now part of Seagate)
List of solid-state drive manufacturers
Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI)
Fibre Channel (FC)
NVM Express (NVMe)
PCI Express (PCIe)
Serial ATA (SATA)
Universal Serial Bus
Universal Serial Bus (USB)
HDD form factors
PCI Express expansion card
JEDEC / JC-42, JC-64.8
NVMHCI Work Group