Serial ATA (SATA, abbreviated from Serial AT Attachment) is a computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives, optical drives, and solid-state drives. Serial ATA succeeded the earlier Parallel ATA (PATA) standard to become the predominant interface for storage devices.
Serial ATA industry compatibility specifications originate from the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) which are then promulgated by the INCITS T13 subcommittee ATA Attachment.
SATA was announced in 2000 in order to provide several advantages over the earlier PATA interface such as reduced cable size and cost (seven conductors instead of 40 or 80), native hot swapping, faster data transfer through higher signaling rates, and more efficient transfer through an (optional) I/O queuing protocol.
Serial ATA industry compatibility specifications originate from the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO). The SATA-IO group collaboratively creates, reviews, ratifies, and publishes the interoperability specifications, the test cases and plugfests. As with many other industry compatibility standards, the SATA content ownership is transferred to other industry bodies: primarily the INCITS T13 subcommittee AT Attachment, the INCITS T10 subcommittee (SCSI), a subgroup of T10 responsible for Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The remainder of this article strives to use the SATA-IO terminology and specifications.
Before SATA’s introduction in 2000, PATA was simply known as ATA. The “AT Attachment” (ATA) name originated after the 1984 release of the IBM Personal Computer AT, more commonly known as the IBM AT. The IBM AT’s controller interface became a de facto industry interface for the inclusion of hard disks. “AT” was IBM’s abbreviation for “Advanced Technology”; thus, many companies and organizations indicate SATA is an abbreviation of “Serial Advanced Technology Attachment”. However, the ATA specifications simply use the name “AT Attachment”, to avoid possible trademark issues with IBM.
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) uses a 16-bit wide data bus with many additional support and control signals, all operating at a much lower frequency. To ensure backward compatibility with legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same basic ATA and ATAPI command sets as legacy ATA devices.
SATA has replaced parallel ATA in consumer desktop and laptop computers; SATA’s market share in the desktop PC market was 99% in 2008. PATA has mostly been replaced by SATA for any use; with PATA in declining use in industrial and embedded applications that use CompactFlash (CF) storage, which was designed around the legacy PATA standard. A 2008 standard, CFast to replace CompactFlash is based on SATA.