Technical Overview

Serial ATA (SATA) is the evolution of the parallel ATA physical storage interface from a parallel bus to a serial bus architecture. The serial architecture overcomes the electrical constraints that limited continued speed enhancements for the classic parallel ATA bus, and provides a well-defined path to progressively higher levels of performance. 

Serial ATA is the primary internal storage interconnect for desktop and mobile PCs, connecting the host system to peripherals such as hard drives, solid state drives, optical drives, and removable magnetic media devices. Serial ATA hard drives also have a significant presence in enterprise applications, enabling the integration of higher capacity, cost effective storage solutions, and SATA solid state drives are establishing new levels of performance. 

Today, Serial ATA supports 6.0, 3.0, and 1.5 Gb/s transfer speeds, which along with features such as Native Command Queuing, maximize performance. Advanced power management and the ability to reduce radiated emissions make Serial ATA a system-friendly interface. Features such as hot plug and staggered spin-up enable Serial ATA in multi-drive applications. External Serial ATA (eSATA) doubles the supported cable length to two meters for connecting external storage devices while maintaining data integrity and performance. 

With its widespread usage in the computing industry, the SATA bus architecture will continue to evolve and mature over time. New technologies and techniques in performance, power management, physical configuration, connection options and other storage-centric solutions are constantly being defined and developed, giving SATA a long and promising future.

For example, SATA Express is a new specification by SATA-IO that combines SATA software infrastructure with the PCI Express® (PCIe®) interface to deliver high-speed storage solutions. SATA Express enables the development of new devices that utilize the PCIe interface and maintain compatibility with existing SATA applications. The technology provides a cost-effective means to increase device interface speeds to 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s. Find out more on the SATA Express page.