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SATA Interface History

Serial ATA, also known as SATA, is one of the popular interfaces in the current age of computing. While many users rely on its connectivity to use hard drives, CD, DVDs and other mass storage devices, the technology is still rather new. Having debuted in 2003 as the replacement to standard ATA interface, SATA has quickly taken the world of modern computing by storm.

Parallel ATA (PATA)

Originally referred to as an AT Attachment, PATA was one of the most widely used interfaces in modern computing when it first reached consumers in 1986. There were many drawbacks, some of which were based on actual limitations of the technology, but it would take nearly two decades before the SATA architecture saw the light of day.

SATA Working Group

The SATA Working Group was formed in 2000 as a means of researching, developing and designing the SATA interface that we know today. This group boasted some of the most prolific names in computing, including Intel, IBM, Dell, Seagate Technologies, APT Technologies, Quantum and Maxtor. It would take four more years before the SATA interface would be available for public use, and SATA faced fierce competition from alternate technologies such as USB and FireWire.

SATA 1.0

SATA 1.0 was finally available for public consumption on January 7, 2003. Now commonly referred to as SATA 1.5 Gbit/s, due to its transfer rate, the original SATA 1.0 interface had numerous advantages of ATA and PATA. The smaller cable size featured in the SATA architecture uses a lower signal voltage than PATA, which ultimately increases its efficiency and safety. The new and improved cable can also support a length of up to 3 feet, whereas PATA cables were strictly limited to 18 inches. SATA also has a lowered pin count, using only seven instead of 40, which allows for a smaller, streamlined connector.

SATA 2.0

The next generation of SATA devices, the SATA 2.0 revision implemented numerous upgrades to the technology. Native SATA 2.0 devices were now capable of operating at a transfer rate of 3.0 Gbit/s, double the rate of SATA 1.0 devices. The data cables were also improved, allowing for sustained and burst data transfer performance with absolutely no data loss incurred.

SATA 3.0

Although the initial draft for SATA 3.0 was developed in 2008, the technology itself was not available to consumers until May 27, 2009. This revision again doubled the native transfer rate of devices, this time from 3.0 Gbit/s to 6.0 Gbit/s. Numerous other upgrades were also included, including Native Command Queuing and increased power management. The connector was also streamlined for compatibility with smaller, 1.8-inch devices.

SATA 3.1

SATA's 3.1 revision was the first update that did not improve native transfer speeds. Instead, the revision focused on smaller issues, such as further improving power usage, increasing hardware controls and optimizing performance for solid-state hard drives.

SATA 3.2

The most recent standard, SATA 3.2, actually operates via a software protocol that operates over your computer's PCI Express interface. This allows for effective transfer rates of up to 16 Gbit/s. Revision 3.2 also introduces an improved electrical interface, which is meant to provide increased support for micro SSD devices and embedded SATA storage.


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