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Definition: SATA

(Serial ATA) The standard hardware interface for connecting storage and CD/DVD drives to the computer. Introduced in 2001, most computers for consumers use the SATA interface. However, servers and high-end workstations may use SCSI (see serial attached SCSI), and solid state drives (SSDs) increasingly employ the NVMe interface rather than SATA (see NVMe). See hardware interface.

SATA is the faster serial version of the parallel ATA (PATA) interface. Both SATA and PATA are "integrated drive electronics" (IDE) devices, which means the controller is in the drive, and only a simple circuit is required on the motherboard. See IDE, mSATA and SATA Express.

   SATA                     Data
   Version         Year   Transfer

   1.0  I          2001    1.5 Gbps
   2.0  II, 3G     2004    3.0 Gbps
   3.0  III, 6G    2009    6.0 Gbps
   3.2  Express    2013   16.0 Gbps
   3.3**           2016   16.0 Gbps

   ** support for SMR (see SATA 3.3)

SATA and PATA Sockets
The SATA socket is much smaller than the earlier PATA socket. When SATA came out, transition motherboards (bottom) supported both interfaces.

SATA and PATA Cables
SATA was welcomed by PC builders because PATA cables took up a lot of room inside the case.

External eSATA Drives
Some computers have eSATA ports for external SATA drives. The hybrid port (right) supports both SATA and USB devices (see eSATA USB Hybrid Port).

External eSATAp Drive
This external eSATA drive is opened up to show both data and power interfaces. The "p" in eSATAp drives means power is derived from the eSATA port and not a separate AC outlet.