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The SATA Interface

What is SATA?

SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and is a interface for connecting devices to a computer. It is a serial interface, in that it transfers data one bit at a time (-cf: IDE) hence data transfer rates are quoted in "bits per second" (-rather than "bytes per second"). SATA has become the standard interface for most devices now, although you can still find IDE devices around if you hunt for them.

Identifying SATA Cables

There are two types of SATA cable (-both having male connectors):

  • The SATA Data Cable: these are narrower, with a descender on one end
  • The SATA Power Cable: these are wider, with a descender on one end

The descender is used to ensure the cables can only be only be connected one way, avoiding costly mistakes.

The photo below shows two SATA Data Cable views on the left and a single (wider) SATA power cable on the right:

Example SATA cables

The descender can be seen top left (data cable) and top right (power cable).

Identifying SATA Ports

The SATA data port can be identified on a motherboard as a female socket, with a descender at one end. The photo below shows two SATA ports, one above the other.

Example SATA data ports

Note: each SATA port can connect to a single drive : so, if your motherboard has only two SATA ports, then you can only connect two drives

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