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11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia

Serial ATA (SATA)
From top to bottom, SATA Certification Logo,
SATA cable, and two first-generation (1.5 Gbit/s)
SATA data connectors on a motherboard.
Year created 2003
Supersedes Parallel ATA (PATA)
Capacity 1.5, 3.0, 6.0 Gbit/s
Style Serial
Hotplugging interface Yes
External interface Optional (eSATA)
Serial ATA
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Serial ATA (SATA) is a computer bus interface for
connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as
hard disk drives and optical drives. Serial ATA was designed
to replace the older AT Attachment standard (ATA; later
referred to as Parallel ATA or PATA and often called by the
old name IDE), offering several advantages over the older
interface: reduced cable size and cost (7 conductors instead
of 40), native hot swapping, faster data transfer through
higher signalling rates, and more efficient transfer through an
(optional) I/O queuing protocol.
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) used a 16-bit wide data bus with many
additional support and control signals, all operating at much
lower frequency. To ensure backward compatibility with
legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same
basic ATA and ATAPI command-set as legacy ATA
SATA has replaced parallel ATA in consumer desktop and
laptop computers, and has largely replaced PATA in new
embedded applications. SATA's market share in the desktop
PC market was 99% in 2008.
PATA remains widely used
in industrial and embedded applications that use
CompactFlash storage, though even there, the new CFast
storage standard is based on SATA.
Serial ATA industry compatibility specifications originate
from The Serial ATA International Organization (aka.
SATA-IO, The SATA-IO group
collaboratively creates, reviews, ratifies, and publishes the
interoperability specifications, the test cases, and plug-fests.
As with many other industry compatibility standards, the
SATA content ownership is transferred to other industry bodies: primarily the INCITS T13 subcommittee ATA,
the INCITS T10 subcommittee (SCSI); a subgroup of T10 responsible for Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The
complete specification from SATA-IO.
The remainder of this article will try to use the terminology and
specifications of SATA-IO.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
1 Features
2 Revisions
3 Cables, connectors, and ports
4 Protocol
5 Topology
6 Backward and forward compatibility
7 Comparison to other interfaces
8 See also
9 References
10 External links
The Serial ATA Spec includes logic for SATA device hotplugging. Devices and motherboards that meet the
interoperability specification are capable of hot plugging.
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 emulation" mode, which does not allow features of devices to be accessed if the ATA/IDE
standard does not support them.
Windows device drivers that are labeled as SATA are often running in IDE emulation mode unless they explicitly
state that they are AHCI mode, in RAID mode, or a mode provided by a proprietary driver and command set that
was designed to allow 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 such as Windows XP do not. Even in those
instances, a proprietary driver may have been created for a specific chipset, such as Intel's.
SATA revision 1.0 (SATA 1.5 Gbit/s)
First-generation SATA interfaces, now known as SATA 1.5 Gbit/s, communicate at a rate of 1.5 Gbit/s, and do
not support Native Command Queuing (NCQ). Taking 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
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
convert existing PATA designs for use with the SATA interface.
[citation needed]
Bridged drives have a SATA
connector, may include either or both kinds of power connectors, and, in general, perform identically to their PATA
equivalents. Most lack support for some SATA-specific features such as NCQ. Native SATA products quickly
eclipsed bridged products with the introduction of the second generation of SATA drives.
[citation needed]
As of April 2010 the fastest 10,000 RPM SATA mechanical 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 a SATA 1.5 Gbit/s link.
SATA revision 2.0 (SATA 3 Gbit/s)
Second generation SATA interfaces run with a native transfer rate of 3.0 Gbit/s, and taking 8b/10b encoding into
account, the maximum uncoded transfer rate is 2.4 Gbit/s (300 MB/s). The theoretical burst throughput of SATA
3.0 Gbit/s is double that of SATA revision 1.0.
All SATA data cables meeting the SATA spec are rated for 3.0 Gbit/s and will handle current mechanical drives
without any loss of sustained and burst data transfer performance. However, high-performance flash drives can
exceed the SATA 3 Gbit/s transfer rate; this is addressed with the SATA 6 Gbit/s interoperability standard.
SATA 3 Gbit/s is backward compatible with SATA 1.5 Gbit/s.
SATA revision 3.0 (SATA 6 Gbit/s)
Serial ATA International Organization presented the draft specification of SATA 6 Gbit/s physical layer in July
and ratified its physical layer specification on August 18, 2008.
The full 3.0 standard was released on
May 27, 2009.
It runs with a native transfer rate of 6.0 Gbit/s, and 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. The 3.0 specification contains the following changes:
6 Gbit/s for scalable performance
Continued compatibility with SAS, including SAS 6 Gbit/s. "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 specification.
Isochronous Native Command Queuing (NCQ) streaming command to enable isochronous quality of service
data transfers for streaming digital content applications.
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 storage devices.
A connector designed to accommodate 7 mm optical disk drives for thinner and lighter notebooks.
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, although improved process technologies and power management
techniques may mitigate this. The later specification can use existing SATA cables and connectors, although it was
reported in 2008 that some OEMs were expected to upgrade host connectors for the higher speeds.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
The later standard is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gbit/s.
SATA revision 3.1
mSATA, SATA for solid-state drives in mobile computing devices, a PCI Express Mini Card-like connector
which is electrically SATA
Zero-power optical disk drive, idle SATA optical drive draws no power
Queued 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 capabilities
Universal Storage Module, a new standard for cableless plug-in (slot) powered storage for consumer
electronics devices
SATA revision 3.2
SATA Express
Cables, connectors, and ports
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 computers.
Standard SATA connectors for both data and power have a conductor pitch of 1.27 mm (1/20").
A smaller mini-SATA or mSATA connector is used by smaller devices such as 1.8" 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 intended to be used with SATA data cables that have
locks or clips to reduce the chance of accidental unplugging. Some SATA cables have right-angled connectors to
ease the connection of devices to circuit boards.
Data connector
The SATA standard defines a data cable with seven conductors (3 grounds and 4 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
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
Pin # Mating Function
1 1st Ground
2 2nd A+ (Transmit)
3 2nd A (Transmit)
4 1st Ground
5 2nd B (Receive)
6 2nd B+ (Receive)
7 1st Ground
Coding notch
A 7-pin SATA data cable.
SATA connector on a hard drive; data connections on the left and power connections on the right. Note
the two different pin lengths used to ensure a specific mating order (especially to ensure that ground pins
make contact first).
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. They are more
susceptible to accidental unplugging and breakage
than PATA, but cables can be purchased 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 for 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.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
SATA-3 Cable showing fully shielded
twin-ax pairs
Pin # Mating Function
Coding notch
1 3rd
3.3 V 2 3rd
3 2nd
4 1st
Ground 5 2nd
6 2nd
7 2nd
5 V 8 3rd
9 3rd
10 2nd Ground
11 3rd
Staggered spinup/activity
(in supporting drives)
12 1st Ground
13 2nd
12 V 14 3rd
15 3rd
A 15-pin SATA power connector.
Note that this connector is
missing the 3.3V (orange) wire.
Power connectors
Standard connector
The SATA standard specifies a
power connector that differs
from the decades-old four-pin
Molex connector found on pre-
SATA devices. Like the data
cable, it is wafer-based, but its
wider 15-pin shape prevents
accidental mis-identification
and forced insertion of the
wrong connector type. Native
SATA devices favor the SATA
power-connector, although
some early SATA drives
retained older 4-pin Molex in addition to the SATA power connector.
SATA features more pins than the traditional connector for several
A third voltage is supplied, 3.3 V, in addition to the traditional
5 V and 12 V. However, nearly all current disk drives do not
use the 3.3 V line.
Each voltage is transmitted through three pins grouped together,
because the small contacts by themselves cannot supply
sufficient current for some devices. (Each pin should be able to
carry 1.5 A.)
Five or six pins provide the ground connection, six being
standard, or five if staggered spinup or other special functionality is supported.
For each of the three voltages, one of the three pins serves for hotplugging. The ground pins and power pins
3, 7, and 13 are longer on the plug (located on the SATA device) so they will connect first. A special hot-
plug receptacle (on the cable or a backplane) can connect ground pins 4 and 12 first.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
Pin # Mating Function
Coding notch
1 3rd Device presence
2 2nd
5 V
3 2nd
4 2nd Manufacturing diagnostic
5 1st
6 1st
A 6-pin Slimline SATA power
The back of a SATA-based
slimline optical drive.
Pin 11 can function for staggered spinup, activity indication, both, or nothing. It is an open collector signal,
that 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 4-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 4-pin-Molex-to-SATA power
adapters which include electronics to provide 3.3 V power additionally.
However, most drives do not require
the 3.3 V power line.
[citation needed]
Slimline connector
SATA 2.6 first defined the
slimline connector, intended for
smaller form-factors; e.g.,
notebook optical drives. Pin 1
(device presence) is shorter
than the others.
Micro connector
The micro connector originated with SATA 2.6. It is intended for 1.8-inch (46 mm) hard drives. There is also a
micro data connector, similar in appearance to but slightly thinner than the standard data connector.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
Pin # Mating Function
1 3rd
3.3 V
2 2nd
3 1st
4 1st
5 2nd
5 V
6 3rd
7 3rd Reserved
Coding notch
8 3rd
Vendor specific
9 2nd
A 1.8-inch (46-millimeter) hard drive,
showing data connector and micro power
The official eSATA logo
SATA (left) and eSATA (right)
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 500600 mV
instead of 400600 mV.
Minimum receive amplitude decreased: Range is 240600 mV
instead of 325600 mV.
Maximum cable length increased to 2 metres (6.6 ft) (USB and
FireWire allow longer distances.)
The external cable connector is a shielded version of the connector
specified in SATA 1.0a with these basic differences:
The external connector has no "L"-shaped key, and the
guide features are vertically offset and reduced in size. This
prevents the use of unshielded internal cables in external
applications and vice-versa.
To prevent ESD damage, the design increased insertion
depth from 5 mm to 6.6 mm and the contacts are mounted
farther back in both the receptacle and plug.
To provide EMI protection and meet FCC and CE emission requirements, the cable has an extra
layer of shielding, and the connectors have metal contact-points.
The connector shield has retention springs on both the top and bottom surfaces.
The external connector and cable have a design-life of over five thousand insertions and removals,
whereas the internal connector is specified to withstand only fifty.
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eSATA receptacles
Aimed at the consumer market, eSATA enters an external storage market served also by the USB and FireWire
interfaces. The SATA interface has certain advantages. Most external hard-disk-drive cases with FireWire or 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 S3200 FireWire 1394b spec reaches ~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
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 will not
have low-level features accessible. Firewire's future 6.4 Gbit/s
(768 MB/s) will be faster than eSATA I. The eSATA version of SATA
6G will operate at 6.0 Gbit/s (the term SATA III is being eschewed by
the SATA-IO to avoid confusion with SATA II 3.0 Gbit/s, which was
colloquially referred to as "SATA 3G" [bps] or "SATA 300" [MB/s]
since 1.5 Gbit/s SATA I and 1.5 Gbit/s SATA II were referred to as
both "SATA 1.5G" [b/s] or "SATA 150" [MB/s]). Therefore, they will
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.
Most newer computers, including netbooks/laptops, have external SATA (eSATA) connectors, in addition to USB
2.0 and sometimes USB 3.0 ports, although relatively few have built-in FireWire ports.
There are some disadvantages, however, to the eSATA interface. Devices built before the eSATA interface
became popular lack external SATA connectors. For small form-factor devices (such as external 2.5-inch (64 mm)
disks), a PC-hosted USB or 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.
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 can
be upgraded with Cardbus
or ExpressCard
versions of 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 signal-levels.
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 4 pins of the USB 2.0 (or earlier)
port, the 7 pins of the eSATA port, and optionally two 12-volt power pins.
Both SATA traffic and device
power are integrated in a single cable, as is the case with USB but not eSATA. Power at 5 volts is provided
through two USB pins; power at 12 Volts may optionally be provided. Typically desktop, but not notebook,
computers provide 12 volt power, so can power devices requiring this voltage, typically 3.5" disk and CD/DVD
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
drives, in addition to 5 volt devices such as 2.5" drives.
Both 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 cables are available which make
available both SATA or eSATA and power connectors 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.
Although eSATAp connectors have been built into several devices, manufacturers do not refer to an official
Pre-standard implementations
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,
[citation needed]
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.
Mini-SATA, which is distinct from the micro connector, was announced by the Serial ATA International
Organization on September 21, 2009.
Applications include netbooks and other devices that require a smaller
solid-state drive. The connector is similar in appearance to a PCI Express Mini Card interface,
and is electrically
compatible; however, the data signals (TX/RX SATA, PETn0 PETp0 PERn0 PERp0 PCI-express) need
connection to the SATA host controller instead of the PCI-express host controller. Due to the absence of a
standard for quite some time, there is still some confusion around this subject. For host devices which support either
an mSATA SSD or mini-PCIe card interchangeably, this application note from NXP
( explains how to use a PCI-express/SATA
router chip. This chip is essentially a four-channel bi-directional multiplexer. The vast majority of computer
motherboards however have single-purpose headers which may support one of either an mSATA SSD or mini-
PCIe card, but not both interchangeably. The fit-PC3 with board revision 2.3 supports 1 Mini-PCIe/mSATA
device internally. Earlier fit-PC3 boards only support mini-PCIe.
The SATA specification defines three distinct protocol layers: physical, link, and transport.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
An mSATA SSD on top of a 2.5 inch
SATA drive
Physical layer
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 (1.5v 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 for 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
allows the transmit drivers and receiver inputs to be AC-coupled.
Also, Serial/ATA uses some of the of special characters defined in 8b/10b. In particular, the PHY layer uses the
comma (K28.5) character to maintain symbol-alignment. A specific 4-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.)
Separate point-to-point AC-coupled LVDS links are used for physical transmission between host and drive.
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 link-layer.
Once link-initialization has completed, the link-layer takes over data-transmission, with the PHY providing only the
8b/10b conversion before bit transmission.
Link layer
After the PHY-layer has established a link, the link layer is responsible for transmission and reception of 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.
Transport layer
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SATA topology: host (H), expansor
(M), and device (D).
Layer number two in the serial ATA specification is the transport layer. This layer has the responsibility of acting on
the frames and for transmitting/receiving the frames in an appropriate sequence. The transport layer handles the
assembly and disassembly of FIS structures which includes for example extract content from register FIS:es into the
task-file and inform the command layer. In an abstract fashion is the transport layer responsible for creating
encoding FIS structures requested by the command layer and remove the same structures when frames are
When DMA data is to be transmitted and is received from the higher command layer will the transport layer
append the FIS control header to the payload and inform 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 has been processed by the link layer will the transport layer inspect
the FIS header and remove it before forwarding the data to the command layer.
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 to drive multiple storage devices. The multiplier
performs the function of a hub; the controller and each storage device is
connected to the hub.
Modern PC systems have SATA controllers built into the motherboard,
typically featuring 2 to 8 ports. Additional ports can be installed through
add-in SATA host adapters (available in variety of bus-interfaces: USB,
PCI, PCI-e.)
Backward and forward compatibility
At the device level, SATA and PATA (Parallel AT Attachment) devices remain completely incompatiblethey
cannot be interconnected. At the application level, SATA devices can be specified to look and act like PATA
Many motherboards offer a "legacy mode" option, which makes SATA drives appear to the OS like
PATA drives on a standard controller. This eases OS installation by not requiring a specific driver to be loaded
during setup but sacrifices support for some features of SATA and, in general, disables some of the boards' PATA
or SATA ports, since the standard PATA controller interface supports only 4 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 as
standalone "dongles."
When attached to a PATA drive, a device-side dongle allows the PATA drive to function
as a SATA drive. Host-side dongles allow a motherboard PATA port to function as a SATA host port.
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 connectors.
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SATA 1.5 Gbit/s and SATA 3 Gbit/s
The designers of SATA aimed for backward and forward compatibility with future revisions of the SATA
[citation needed]
To prevent interoperability problems that could occur when next generation SATA drives
are installed on motherboards with legacy standard SATA 1.5 Gbit/s motherboard host controllers, many
manufacturers have made it easy to switch those newer drives to the previous standard's mode. For example,
Seagate/Maxtor has added a user-accessible jumper-switch, known as the Force 150, to enable the drive to be
switched between 1.5 Gbit/s and 3 Gbit/s 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 & 6). Samsung drives can
be switched to 1.5 Gbit/s mode using software that may be downloaded from the manufacturer's website.
Upgrading a Samsung drive 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 is also useful when attaching SATA 300 hard drives on SATA controllers on PCI cards,
since many of these controllers (such as the Silicon Images chips) will run at SATA300 even though the PCI bus
cannot even reach SATA150 speeds. This can cause data corruption in operating systems that do not specifically
test for this condition and limit the disk transfer speed.
SATA 3 Gbit/s and SATA 6 Gbit/s
Comparison to other interfaces
Parallel 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 SCSI uses the same physical interconnects as SATA, and most SAS HBAs
also support SATA devices.
SATA 3 Gbit/s theoretically offers a maximum bandwidth of 300 MB/s per device which is only slightly worse than
the rated speed for SCSI Ultra 320 with a maximum of 320 MB/s in 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
speed Max. cable length (m) Power Devices per
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
Name bandwidth
Max. cable length (m) Power
Devices per
3,000 300
2 with eSATA HBA (1
with passive adapter)
1 (15 with port
eSATAp 5 V/12 V
revision 3.0
6,000 600
1 No
revision 2.0
3,000 300
revision 1.0
1,500 150
1 per line
PATA 133 1,064 133.5 0.46 (18 in) No 2
SAS 600 6,000 600
10 No
1 (>65k with
SAS 300 3,000 300
SAS 150 1,500 150
IEEE 1394
3,144 393
100 (more with special
15 W, 12
25 V
63 (with hub)
IEEE 1394
786 98.25 100
IEEE 1394
393 49.13 4.5
USB 3.0* 5,000 400
4.5 W, 5 V
127 (with hub)
USB 2.0 480 60 5
2.5 W, 5 V
USB 1.0 12 1.5 3 Yes
5,120 640
12 No
15 (plus the Host
Bus Adapter/Host)
2,560 320
over optic
10,520 1,000 250,000
(16,777,216 with
4,000 400 12
Quad Rate
10,000 1,000
5 (copper)
1 with point to point
Many with switched
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
Quad Rate
10,000 1,000
<10,000 (fiber)
No Many with switched
Thunderbolt 10,000 1,250 3 (copper) 10 W 7
* USB 3.0 specification released to hardware vendors 17 November 2008.
Unlike PATA, both SATA and eSATA support hot-swapping by design. However, this feature requires proper
support at the host, device (drive), and operating-system levels. In general, all SATA devices (drives) support hot-
swapping (due to the requirements on the device-side), also most SATA host adapters support this command.
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.
See also
List of device bit rates
FATA (hard drive)
Serial attached SCSI SAS
1. ^

"Software status ata Wiki"
rt) . 2008-08-17. Archived from the original
( on 2009-01-24.
. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
2. ^ "Serial ATA: Meeting Storage Needs Today and Tomorrow" (
30-Presentation.pdf) (PDF). Retrieved 2011-
3. ^ Donald Melanson (2008-02-25). "CFast CompactFlash cards now said to be coming in "18 to 24 months""
( .
mont/. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
4. ^ "Pretec release CFast card with SATA interface"
( . DPReview. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
5. ^ "ATA-ATAPI.COM Serial ATA (SATA)" ( . http://www.ata- Retrieved 29 January 2009.
6. ^ "Serial ATA (SATA) Linux hardware/driver status report"
( .
Archived from the original ( on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
7. ^ Intel Matrix Storage Technology - Unattended Installation Instructions Under Windows* XP
8. ^

Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos (2010-04-06). "VelociRaptor Returns: 6Gb/s, 600GB, And 10,000 RPM"
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
8. ^

Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos (2010-04-06). "VelociRaptor Returns: 6Gb/s, 600GB, And 10,000 RPM"
(,2600-5.html) .,2600-5.html. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
9. ^

"SATA-IO Specifications and Naming Conventions" (http://www.sata- .
Retrieved 2012-08-30.
10. ^ "New SATA Spec Will Double Data Transfer Rates to 6 Gbit/s" (http://www.sata- (PDF) (Press release). SATA-IO. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
11. ^ "SATA Revision 3.0" ( . SATA-IO. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
12. ^ "SATA-IO Releases SATA Revision 3.0 Specification" (
Press-Release-FINAL-052609.pdf) (Press release). Serial ATA International Organization. May 27, 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
13. ^ Rick Merritt (2008-08-18). "Serial ATA doubles data rate to 6 Gbits/s (EETimes news report)"
( . Retrieved 2010-01-26.
14. ^ Hilbert Hagedoorn (2011-07-20). "SATA 3.1 specifications have been published"
( . Retrieved 2012-09-26.
15. ^ "Msata Faq" ( .
Retrieved 2011-10-30.
16. ^ "Serial ATA International Organization: SATA Universal Storage Module (USM)" (http://www.sata- . Retrieved 2011-10-30.
17. ^ "Evolving SATA for High-Speed Storage" (
Presentation_Final.pdf) .
Presentation_Final.pdf. Retrieved 2011-08.
18. ^ "Get ready for mini-SATA" ( . The Tech Report. 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
19. ^ Example of active power adapter (
20. ^ "USB smartmontools" ( . Retrieved 2012-01-13.
21. ^ "Questions about the indicators of health/performance (in percent)" ( .
HDDlife. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
22. ^ "External Serial ATA" ( . Silicon
Image, Inc. Retrieved 8 August
23. ^ "CardBus SATA adapter" ( . Retrieved 2010-01-26.
24. ^ "ExpressCard SATA adapter" ( . Retrieved 2010-01-26.
25. ^ "Addonics Technology: Hybrid eSATA (eSATA USB hybrid) interface"
( . Retrieved 2011-10-30.
26. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About SATA 6Gb/s and the SATA Revision 3.0 Specification"
( (PDF). May/June 2009. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
27. ^ "mSATA Press Release" ( . Retrieved 11 March 2011.
28. ^ "Intel 310 SSD" ( . Intel 310 SSD. Intel. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
17/18 Retrieved 11 March 2011.
29. ^ "A comparison with Ultra ATA Technology" (
%20a%20comparison%20with%20ultra%20ata%20technology.pdf) (PDF). SATA-IO. http://www.sata- Retrieved
30. ^ "Image of PATA to SATA "dongle."" (
Drive-to-IDE-Adapter-WLX851-.jpg) .
Drive-to-IDE-Adapter-WLX851-.jpg. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
31. ^ Ultra-640 is specified, but devices do not exist
32. ^ FIS-based switching is comparable to SCSI's tagged command queueing
33. ^ "eSATAp Application" ( . Retrieved 2010-01-26.
34. ^ "Fast Just Got Faster: SATA 6Gb/s" (
. May 27, 2009. Retrieved
35. ^ "Designing Serial ATA For Today's Applications and Tomorrow's Storage Needs"
Brochure-May-2009.pdf) . Retrieved 2011-10-25.
36. ^

"FireWire Developer Note: FireWire Concepts"
onceptual/HWTech_FireWire/Articles/FireW_concepts.html) . Apple Developer Connection.*/
nceptual/HWTech_FireWire/Articles/FireW_concepts.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
37. ^ 16 cables can be daisy chained up to 72 m
38. ^ Universal Serial Bus Specification Revision 3.0
( .
12 November 2008. p. 69 (417). Archived from the original
( on 2011-05-14.
Retrieved 14 April 2011.
39. ^

Frenzel, Louis E. (September 25, 2008). "USB 3.0 Protocol Analyzer Jumpstarts 4.8-Gbit/s I/O Projects"
( .
Electronic Design.
4-8-gbit-s-i-. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
40. ^ USB hubs can be daisy chained up to 25 m
41. ^ Minich, Makia (25 June 2007). "Infiniband Based Cable Comparison" (
(PDF). Archived from the original ( on
2012-02-10. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
42. ^ Feldman, Michael (17 July 2007). "Optical Cables Light Up InfiniBand"
( . HPCwire (Tabor Publications & Events): p. 1. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
External links
Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) (
EETimes 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 ( .
11/1/12 Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the f ree ency clopedia
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 (http://www.sata-
SATA-IO White Paper - External SATA (eSATA) (http://www.sata- PDF (502 kiB)
SATA motherboard connector pinout (
Serial ATA Connector Schematic and Pinout
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 (
Barracuda XT - the first SATA 6Gb/s HDD (
Mini-FAQ on SATA II (specifications/performance/compatibility)
USB 3.0 vs. eSATA: Is faster better? (
UniATA, the universal, free, open-source ATA driver with PATA/SATA support
Adapter or converter for a SATA drive to become a PATA drive
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