The SATA standard can be used to connect both internal and external storage devices. In this video, you’ll learn about the interfaces and cables used for both SATA and eSATA links.
One very common interface type for our storage devices inside of our laptop computers and desktop computers is SATA. SATA stands for Serial AT Attachment. And there have been many different SATA versions throughout the years. The first version of SATA, SATA revision 1.0, transferred data at 1 and 1/2 gigabits per second over a 1 meter cable. SATA revision 2.0 doubled that speed to 3 gigabits per second. Version 3.0 doubled it again to 6 gigabits per second. And SATA revision 3.2 increased the speed to 16 gigabits per second over that 1 meter data cable inside of your computer.
SATA is used exclusively inside of our computers. If you have an external storage device, you’re probably connecting with eSATA or external SATA. This matches the speeds that are used on those revisions of internal SATA versions, but it allows for a maximum cable length of 2 meters. These are the SATA connectors on a hard drive. The smaller seven pin connector is used for data transfer. And this larger 15 pin connector is used to power the device. This hard drive also has a power connector for a molex connector. So if you’re transitioning a system to a newer SATA drive, but it still has an older power supply, you can use the older molex connection. Or if your power supply supports it, the newer 15 pin SATA connection.
These connections for power and for data are one to one connections. So you have a single power connection coming off of your power supply. That single connection plugs into that single connector on the back of your storage drive. You also have a single data connector on your motherboard. That single data connector provides a single connection for a storage device using that data connector. Unlike some previous storage types, a SATA connection has a single cable supporting a single storage device.
Here’s a motherboard. This one has a CPU and space for memory. And you can see down here at the bottom are some SATA connectors. If we zoom up on this, you can see that we have SATA revision 2 and SATA revision 3 interfaces. And these also have different colors to designate the difference between the versions. The colors can change depending on the motherboard. This motherboard has yellow SATA connectors. And it’s a pair of SATA connectors that are next to each other.
These SATA connections go directly from the motherboard into the storage device itself. You can see we have three separate motherboard connections, and the black, yellow, and blue cables are plugging into the black, yellow, and blue connectors on these three separate storage drives. For these storage drives to work, you would also, obviously, need to connect the power connections for each of these three drives. Here’s another storage drive. This one does not have that molex connector. So the only way to power this drive is with the SATA power that’s included on the drive itself. And you would also connect the data connection to your motherboard. Usually you have that cable coming directly from the motherboard, plugging into the drive, and now you’re able to access all of the data on the drive once you add both the data and the power connection to this storage device.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s not only this internal connection for SATA, there’s also an external version called eSATA. And on this device there is an eSATA adapter card with two separate external SATA links built into the computer itself. These use the same standard for connectivity that we have with our internal SATA connections. But the connector itself, although looks physically similar to the internal connector, is a very different connector type when you’re using eSATA.
If we look at a SATA interface on your motherboard, it has this L shape associated with it. If we look at an external eSATA connector, it’s slightly larger and does have a very different layout. This means that if you’re connecting an eSATA drive, you’ll need an eSATA cable. And if you’re plugging into an internal SATA drive, you will need a SATA cable. Many storage drives have different options for connectivity. This external storage drive has FireWire, USB 2, and eSATA as some of those options. If you’re using that eSATA connection, you would plug-in to the storage drive, connect that eSATA cable to the eSATA interface on your computer, and now you’ll be able to transfer data from this external storage device.