Computing has come a long way from the abacus and other complex machines that took large spaces, and today we have small devices that store a lot of data.
Inevitably, we need to share the data between devices, and technology allows us both wired and wireless options.
Wireless options like Bluetooth are the first choice for most people that want to make small data transfers, but you may need a more reliable solution for larger files.
This is where SATA comes in; let us take a close look and see how it will help make your data movement easier;
What Does A SATA Port Look Like?
A SATA port is a rectangular port about 1.5 cm long and 0.4 cm high, and you can tell it apart by its recognizable L shape connector. It has several pins and delicate notches to keep the connector in, and the color differs depending on the SATA generation in question.
SATA Physical Attributes
The SATA has pins for data all along the connector’s underside, and it is an L shape which means you can only plug it in one way.
This makes it easier to align the cable, especially when working with the tight spaces inside a CPU.
Initially, the SATA cables didn’t have any locks to secure them, and once you plugged them in, there was little to prevent them from coming out or breaking off, which was a problem. These problems can help you know SATA 1 cables since they had no locks.
From SATA 2, the cables took an evolutionary step. This is the first time we saw the port at a right angle beside the board rather than sticking straight up, although some modern motherboards still use SATA ports that stick out of the motherboard.
SATA 2 also came with additional features like locking connection, so the connectors had shrouds around them to allow space for a lock.
The cable had bumps that correspond with grooves in the connector, so you can plug it in and have a sturdier connection.
The angles of the cables also differ in SATA 2 and 3; there are right angles and left angle SATA cables that make it easier to plug in while others are on the side. They come in different thicknesses and lengths.
SATA cables are primarily for use inside PCs, so they aren’t that long, and typical ones are about 40 cm long. If you need a longer line, you can find one to connect far apart devices.
SATA 2 was more secure, faster, convenient, and better for airflow. Locking cables is not the only thing that evolved with SATA cables; speed was the most significant change. The colors of the ports also changed to make connections easier.
SATA 1 is blue, SATA 2 and 3 are black, and eSATA is red, and this universal color system will help you locate the type of port you have in your build. The connector for a SATA 3 cable is slightly longer than SATA 2.
SATA cables are like Ethernet cables in that they all look physically the same. They have the same pins, and other than the lock and angles, they are the same thing. It comes down to the quality of wire running inside the connection between the pins and the drive.
Understanding Serial ATA
First, we need a little history lesson to see what SATA replaced the IDE interface. IDE or Parallel interface was the connectors that manufacturers initially used to connect drives to motherboards or storage cards, but it has limitations.
You had to set a master and slave device to make data transfer; it was a big, wide ribbon that filled up the CPU and hindered airflow.
In addition, it was relatively slow, and it wouldn’t have been able to sustain our current speed requirements for data transfer.
The original SATA 1 spec had a transfer speed of 100 Gigabits per second, and it was faster than the existing IDE connection, but the hard drives themselves weren’t that fast at the time. The SATA 1 interface was good enough, so why did we need to move to SATA 2 and 3?
The upgrade was a new generation of storage media that would need faster connectors; SSDs. SSDs need a SATA 2 connection to perform optimally; thus, increased performance was one of the reasons for the transition to SATA 2.
SATA 3 interfaces can attain well over 500 megabytes per second of sustainable reads and writes, and there are new SSDs in the market that can take advantage of this speed. With SATA cables, everything happens on the controller side.
The motherboard on your PC has SATA controllers, and the drives also have these controllers; thus, the motherboard can communicate with the drive in terms of speed changes and data transfer.
Some confusion comes up with SAS, and a SAS controller card is separate from the SATA interface.
It has special connectors in the top called SFF 8087, leading to 4 connectors in the other end that look like SATA.
Like in SATA, it is not about the physical shape of the connector. It is about what is electrically on the other side of the cable, so if you connect a SAS controller to a SAS drive, you will get additional SAS functionality.
It will allow you to use longer cables since it has more signal strength than SATA cables. It will also ensure more data security and reliability features since SAS is primarily for enterprise while SATA is for home and office use.
If you have a SAS drive and you try to run it off your consumer motherboard, it won’t work since a SATA controller can’t control a SAS drive. However, it will work if you plug your SAS controller into a SATA drive.
Another good use for high-speed SATA connections is connecting multiple drives. You can use multipliers to take one SATA connection and use it on several drives; this is especially relevant for eSATA.
eSATA is an external type of SATA, but it runs at the same speed as SATA 3, and the only difference is that it is an external connector.
You can use eSATA to connect to a storage tower, or when you have multiple connected drives, so you can use all of them simultaneously.
SATA Vs. SAS Briefly
Choosing a new hard drive has become easy in recent days because the SATA interface and hard drives are a plug-and-play experience.
While combing through the pages for hard drives and SSDs, you must have noticed an option to look at SAS rather than SATA.
You must have seen the insane price if you clicked on the option. So what is SAS? Why is it so expensive? And will it be a better choice for your home use rather than SATA? SAS means Serial Attached SCSI.
SAS ports might be hard to find on regular motherboards, although they look very similar to SATA ports, so what is the difference? SAS can perform significantly faster than SATA for several reasons, and one of the primary reasons is the bus or communication method it uses.
SAS supports up to 22 gigabits per second transfer speed, twice as fast as SATA speed. Another advantage you get from SAS is that it has full-duplex transfer features. This means it can send and receive data at the same time.
On the other hand, SATA drives can move data at full speed in one direction at a time. If you want a more traditional mechanical hard drive instead of an SSD, SAS drives will offer faster rotational speeds to improve performance.
SAS is great, but most manufacturers don’t use it since it is often a choice for the server market. Companies require very reliable storage that most people are accessing simultaneously, so it needs high-speed support for many drives that use SAS.
This makes it a good choice for large businesses or company websites that need to be online 24/7.
Unfortunately, these additional features make SAS drives more expensive than SATA, and it’s not easy to get a SAS motherboard.
Even if you had a SAS drive and compatible motherboard, chances are it won’t improve your performance in any way.
It is best when several users access data at once, and you won’t see any benefit when using it on a gaming rig or PC unless you are hosting a server.
Putting all these into account, you are better off using a SATA interface for your PC since it offers the same speed.
When the SATA interface isn’t enough, you can compromise without wasting money on features you’d never use.
A SATA port is typically an L-Shaped port on your motherboard facing up or on the side. The colors differ depending on the generation, and it can be red, blue, or black; get the right cables so your motherboard can support them.
SATA offers higher speeds for data transfer between drives, and you can benefit from using the best quality cables of this type. There are excellent options for all users from home, office, and corporate needs.