When SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) was first introduced, it represented a step up in both convenience and performance over the parallel version of the hard drive connection bus (P-ATA or PIDE). By the end of 2008, the SATA standard had replaced virtually all the older cable connectors in both laptops and desktops delivered by all laptop manufacturers in the U.S. The first upgrade to the SATA standard, the SATA ll, offered substantial improvements in laptop data throughput and other areas when it appeared in early 2010.
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Also known as SATA 150, the SATA l laptop hard drive interface transfers data at about three times the speed of a USB 2.0 connection. At 1.5 Gbit/s, the data transfer rate represented a blistering speed increase over the EIDE (Enhanced Intelligent Drive Electronics or Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) interface of 33 Mbit/s. Just as significant as the speed increase, the SATA socket consisted of seven data/command pins, as opposed to the EIDE 40 pin connector with accompanying ribbon cable that was four times wider. These innovations led to a significant reduction in laptop size and weight.
The SATA ll or SATA 300 laptop hard drive became available to the public in mid-2009. The most obvious improvement over the SATA l , the doubling of the transfer rate from 150 to 300 Gbit/s, isn't the only upgrade feature of the second generation SATA. The drive also featured staggered spin up, a feature handy for laptop users with external HDD support. Staggered spin up allowed the SATA drives to start only when data transfer is required of the drive. Another feature, hot plug technology support, allowed the laptop user to plug in an external SATA ll drive while the operating system was running.
Laptop Usage Size
SATA standards made the production and sales of larger capacity hard drives possible because of the vastly increased transfer rates. Due to size and space restrictions, laptops traditionally had smaller, less powerful CPUs than the much larger desktop box. Seek or read times for laptops declined in relation to the HDD capacity due to the economy of scale: the more area to search, the longer it took to find the data. SATA transfer speed greatly reduced this effect and allowed for much larger drive storage capacity.
What to Look For
SATA l and ll laptop drives are available in a multitude of speeds and storage capacities. Finding the right new or replacement drive for your laptop requires looking for the SATA standard in the drive specifications. As of March, 2011 SATA 6 drives have also become available. Although more expensive than the 150 and 300 Gbit/s SATAs, they offer 600 Gbit/s throughput and provide similar upgrade features to the earlier SATA drives.
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