Is Serial ATA the same as SATA?

Serial ATA (SATA) is a serial interface standard for connecting storage devices such as hard disk drives and solid-state drives to a computer. SATA was designed to replace the older parallel ATA (PATA) interface, offering improvements in data transfer speeds, cable management, and hot swapping capabilities. The SATA specification defines the cables, connectors, and protocols used for the connection between host bus adapters and mass storage devices (An introduction to serial ATA).

SATA, which stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, is often used interchangeably with the term Serial ATA. While technically SATA refers specifically to the serial interface standard, in practical usage SATA and Serial ATA refer to the same interface technology. So in summary, Serial ATA is an evolution of the parallel ATA interface into a serial design, providing faster data speeds and other advantages over its predecessor. SATA is the common abbreviated name for Serial ATA (What is Serial ATA (SATA)?).

Definition of Serial ATA

Serial ATA (SATA) 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. SATA was designed to replace the older Parallel ATA (PATA) standard, offering several advantages over the older interface:

Serial ATA was first released in 2001 by a consortium of technology companies including Intel, Samsung, and Seagate. The Serial ATA workgroup published the first SATA specification that year, and defined the SATA 1.0 standard which offered 150MB/s transfer speeds – a significant increase over PATA.

The key advantages of SATA over PATA are:

  • Faster transfer speeds – sequential read/write speeds up to 600 MB/s in newer SATA revisions
  • Thinner cabling – allows improved airflow and cable management in computer cases
  • Hot swapping support – devices can be connected and removed without rebooting
  • Native command queuing – allows more efficient transfer of multi-command data blocks

Overall, SATA provides a faster, more efficient way of connecting storage drives to a computer’s motherboard and processor. All modern computers use SATA rather than the older PATA standard.

Definition of SATA

SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. It is an interface used to connect storage devices like hard disk drives, solid state drives, and optical drives to a computer’s motherboard. The SATA interface transmits data in serial bits rather than parallel bits. This allows for higher transfer speeds compared to the older parallel ATA (PATA) interface.

According to Lenovo, “SATA was designed to replace the older parallel ATA (PATA) standard and has become the most common way to connect storage devices in computers. Nearly every desktop PC, laptop, and server uses SATA to connect the hard drive and optical drive.”

The SATA interface uses a point-to-point connection from the storage device to the computer’s southbridge controller chip. This allows for faster transfer speeds compared to PATA’s shared bus architecture. SATA supports hot swapping, allowing you to connect and disconnect devices without shutting down the system.

History of Serial ATA

Serial ATA was originally introduced in 2001 as the next generation storage interface after Parallel ATA, with the goals of improving speed and cable management. The technology was developed by the Serial ATA Working Group, a consortium founded in 1999 by leading storage companies like Intel, Seagate, and Western Digital. The first Serial ATA specification, known as Serial ATA 1.0, provided transfer speeds up to 150 MB/s and was released in August 2001 (1).

Serial ATA offered several advantages over Parallel ATA, including thinner cables for better airflow and routing, native hot swapping support, and lower voltage requirements. In addition, Serial ATA provided full-duplex communication compared to Parallel ATA’s half-duplex mode. The serial design helped enable faster bus speeds for each new revision of the SATA specification (2).

History of SATA

SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) was introduced in 2000 through the collaborative efforts of technology companies including Intel, Seagate, Maxtor, and Dell. The goal was to develop a new storage interface to replace the Parallel ATA (PATA) standard and enable higher speed data transfers between storage devices and computers.

The first version, SATA 1.0 or SATA 150, was released in 2003 and provided data transfer speeds of up to 150MB/s, a significant improvement over PATA. This original SATA specification supported a serial connection rather than a parallel one, allowing for thinner cables and smaller connectors.

Over the years, updated versions of SATA have steadily increased the possible data transfer speeds. SATA 3.0, released in 2009, pushed speeds up to 600MB/s. The latest SATA 3.4 specification from 2017 supports up to 1969MB/s using PCIe lanes.

Overall, the introduction of SATA marked a major advancement in storage technology, enabling faster data transfers for improved performance, especially as high-capacity hard disk drives became more prevalent. SATA is now the ubiquitous standard for connecting storage drives in computers.

(Information from SATA-IO)

Serial ATA Specifications

Serial ATA was originally introduced in 2001 with the release of Serial ATA 1.0, which specified transfer speeds up to 150MB/s. In 2003, Serial ATA II was released, doubling the maximum transfer speed to 300MB/s. The next major release was Serial ATA 3.0 in 2009, which increased maximum transfer speeds to 600MB/s.

Some of the key changes included in each version of the Serial ATA specification are:

Serial ATA 1.0 (Intel, 2012):

  • Initial release
  • 150MB/s transfer speed
  • Introduced native command queuing

Serial ATA II (Serial ATA II Specification, 2004):

  • Increased transfer speed to 300MB/s
  • Added support for higher signal voltages
  • Introduced 3.0Gbps signaling speed

Serial ATA 3.0 (Intel, 2017):

  • Increased transfer speed to 600MB/s
  • Added support for 6.0Gbps signaling speed
  • Introduced isochronous commands and queue prioritization

SATA Specifications

According to the SATA-IO (Serial ATA International Organization) standards organization, there are several versions of the SATA specification that have been released since the initial 1.0 specification in 2001:

  • SATA 1.0 – Released in 2001, support for 150MB/s transfer speeds.
  • SATA 2.0 – Released in 2004, support for 300MB/s transfer speeds.
  • SATA 3.0 – Released in 2009, support for 600MB/s transfer speeds.
  • SATA 3.1 – Released in 2013, minor updates to improve quality.
  • SATA 3.2 – Released in 2013, support for 16Gb/s transfer speeds.
  • SATA 3.3 – Released in 2016, support for improved power management.
  • SATA 3.4 – Released in 2017, added new features like Shingled Magnetic Recording.

Each version of the SATA specification increased the possible transfer speeds enabled by the interface, starting from 150MB/s initially and increasing to 16Gb/s in the latest version. The specifications also added new features and capabilities over time while maintaining backwards compatibility with older SATA devices and hosts. According to the SATA-IO, the SATA interface has widespread industry adoption and continues to evolve to meet growing interface speed, connectivity, power management, and storage needs (SATA-IO).


Serial ATA and SATA are fully compatible with each other. SATA is simply shorthand for Serial ATA. Both terms refer to the same serial interface standard for connecting storage devices like hard drives and SSDs to a computer’s motherboard.

SATA replaced the older parallel ATA (PATA) standard in the 2000s. The full name was used initially to distinguish the new serial technology from the parallel version. Over time “Serial ATA” was shortened to the acronym SATA which became the more commonly used term.

All SATA devices and connections are fully compatible with the technical specifications for Serial ATA defined by the SATA International Organization. The two terms refer to the exact same interface technology. So Serial ATA and SATA can be used interchangeably when discussing compatibility

Primary Differences

Though Serial ATA and SATA refer to the same interface technology, there are some key differences between the terms:

  • Serial ATA is the full name of the interface standard, standing for “Serial Advanced Technology Attachment.” SATA is an abbreviation for Serial ATA.
  • Serial ATA was introduced in 2001 as the successor to the older Parallel ATA (PATA) interface. The abbreviation SATA came into use to differentiate the serial technology from the older parallel version.
  • Technically, SATA is not an official name, but a colloquial abbreviation that is universally used. The official name remains Serial ATA.
  • When referring to the technology in technical specifications and standards, the term “Serial ATA” is used. But in informal usage, “SATA” is commonly used.
  • The SATA abbreviation is also used in naming the interfaces, e.g. SATA I, SATA II, SATA III. The full form “Serial ATA” is not used in interface naming.

In summary, Serial ATA is the official name of the standard, while SATA is an informal abbreviation that has been widely adopted in common usage.


In summary, Serial ATA and SATA refer to the same type of storage interface and are often used interchangeably. Serial ATA, also known as SATA, is a serial version of the ATA (AT Attachment) interface used to connect storage devices like hard drives and solid state drives to a computer’s motherboard. Both terms refer to the same serial storage technology and SATA can be considered shorthand for Serial ATA. While there are some minor differences between various SATA/Serial ATA versions like SATA I, SATA II, SATA III in terms of speed, they utilize the same underlying serial architecture and are compatible with each other. So in conclusion, Serial ATA and SATA are the same essential interface technology for connecting storage drives, just with slightly different wording.