Difference Between SATA and IDE


Major advancements in information technology and computer science these days have created and opened up many opportunities for us to enjoy and appreciate the convenience and easiness of storing different files and programs in our personal computers. Several aiding devices have also been created and storage capacities continue to grow and expand to maximize the functionality of our computers. The IDE, an acronym for Integrated Drive Electronics and the SATA, which stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment are just two of the many connectors made specifically for the purposes of linkage of adapters to mass storage devices. Let us now take a look at the background of these devices, their definitions, their capacities and how they are used.

IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics)

The IDE or Integrated Drive Electronics is a typical connector for storage devices linked up to a personal computer. It is what attaches a motherboard’s transmission path, or what we know as bus, to any disk storage device found on the computer. A few years after the IDE was created, developers came up with a more advanced standard called the EIDE or Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics, which works three times faster than the older version. There are over either forty or eighty wires within the EIDE cables, which are responsible mainly for combining or linking the controller, or circuit board, with the hard drive. The IDE is also known as PATA, meaning Parallel ATA.

However with the development in the industry, the need for a new storage interface arose to overcome some of the issues with PATA including performance headroom, cabling issues, and voltage tolerance requirements. Therefore, the Serial ATA interface was defined.

SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)

SATA was designed to overcome the limitations on PATA and to simplify cabling and enhance performance. The Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA works in a pretty much similar fashion as the IDE. Its cables are long and thin, and have quite the same functions of integrating hard drives with controllers in personal computers, but these devices operate at a higher speed than the Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics, which happen to be their predecessor. SATA would accommodate many personal computers these days, since as days progress and technology becomes more and more advanced; there are now lesser and lesser computers compatible with IDE connectors.

Difference between IDE and SATA

Basically the two are quite similar in function. The IDE is simply an older version of the SATA, which is more commonly and popularly used these days. SATA is easier, more convenient and less complicated to figure out and use. It is scalable and design flexible.

However IDE and SATA use different type of connectors, as such they cannot be interchanged without an adapter. IDEs are usually made up of 40-pin ribbon cables that can connect up to two drives, while SATA uses the 7-pin cable that will only allow one drive connection.

The IDE interface runs in parallel while SATA interface runs in serial making it faster. When data is sent in parallel, the receiving end will have to wait for all streams of data to arrive before it can be processed, whereas in the serial process the data streamed with just one connection and eliminate the delay.

As said earlier, SATA uses newer technologies and hence able to accomplish higher data transfer rates. SATA can support initial transfer rates of 150 MB per second, as compared to around only 33 MB per second from the IDE. SATA can now support data rates up to 6GB per second, versus the maximum of133 MB per second for IDE.

IDE drives use a standard 5v or 12v 4-pin Molex power connection whereas SATA drives use 3.3v 15-pin connector with hot-plugging feature. Hot plugging is accomplished by having a ground contact that is longer so it connects first.


To conclude, the only difference between the two devices is the fact that the latter, SATA is only a far more advanced version of the IDE. Both serve the same purpose; however these days it is more practical to use the SATA as fewer manufacturers create motherboards with IDE connectors.