Parallel ATA (PATA), originally AT Attachment, is an interface standard for the connection of storage devices such as hard disk drives, floppy disk drives, and optical disc drives in computers. The standard is maintained by the X3/INCITS committee. It uses the underlying AT Attachment (ATA) and AT Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) standards.
The Parallel ATA standard is the result of a long history of incremental technical development, which began with the original AT Attachment interface, developed for use in early PC AT equipment. The ATA interface itself evolved in several stages from Western Digital’s original Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) interface. As a result, many near-synonyms for ATA/ATAPI and its previous incarnations are still in common informal use, in particular Extended IDE (EIDE) and Ultra ATA (UATA). After the introduction of Serial ATA (SATA) in 2003, the original ATA was renamed to Parallel ATA, or PATA for short.
Parallel ATA cables have a maximum allowable length of 18 in (457 mm). Because of this limit, the technology normally appears as an internal computer storage interface. For many years, ATA provided the most common and the least expensive interface for this application. It has largely been replaced by SATA in newer systems.