The SATA (also known as the "Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) cable comes with every computer that has been released as of June 2010. These cables are known for transferring data at high rates (from 1.5 to 6 gigabytes per second) The cable comes with a few specific purposes that are used by every computer for some form of data access. Primarly, the SATA cable is used so that a motherboard can communicate with an internal hard drive, but there are other devices that can make use of the SATA cable as well.
Hard Drive to Motherboard Connection
The primary use for the SATA cable is to connect an internal hard drive to a computer motherboard. The general rate of data transfer for the SATA cable has changed a few times since its inception, but has remained high. Version 1 of the SATA cable can transfer 1.5 gigabytes of data per second. Version 2 of the SATA cable can transfer 3 gigabytes per second. Version 3 can transfer 6 gigabytes per second. This ability of the SATA cable to transfer data quickly makes these cables the desired device to connect these devices.
Hard Drive to Hard Drive
If your have two hard drives on your computer, the SATA cable can be used to connect these drive together. Additionally, the SATA ports on the hard drives can be adjusted to determine which hard drive is the primary hard drive and which is the secondary hard drive. These SATA ports are adjusted simply by moving a small plastic peg from one pin to another. From this, the motherboard will determine how the drive will be recognized.
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ATA and ATAPI Devices
Since all ATA and ATAPI devices have SATA ports, these devices can also be connected to the SATA port on a computer motherboard. These devices can include CD-ROMs and other removable media drives.
In 2004, the creators of the SATA cable produced the eSATA cable, which operates at the same speed as a SATA cable but is made to be connected to a computer externally, much like a USB cable. These cables can be used with any device that can make use of the eSATA cable, and can be connected to any device with an eSATA port.