Serial ATA (SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is a computer bus interface for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives and optical drives. Serial ATA was designed to replace the older parallel ATA standard (often called by the old name IDE), offering several advantages over the older interface: reduced cable size and cost, native hot swapping, faster data transfer through higher signalling rates, and more efficient transfer through an (optional) I/O queuing protocol.
SATA host-adapters and devices communicate via a high-speed serial cable over two pairs of conductors. In contrast, parallel ATA used a 16-bit wide data bus with many additional support and control signals, all operating at much lower frequency. To ensure backward compatibility with legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same basic ATA and ATAPI command-set as legacy ATA devices.
As of 2009, SATA has replaced parallel ATA in most shipping consumer desktop and laptop computers, and is expected to eventually replace PATA in embedded applications where space and cost are important factors. SATA's market share in the desktop PC market was 99% in 2008. PATA remains widely used in industrial and embedded applications that use CompactFlash storage, though even here, the next CFast storage standard will be based on SATA.
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