Short for Advanced Technology Attachment, ATA was approved May 12, 1994 and is an interface that connects hard drives, CD-ROM drives, and other drives. The first ATA interface is now commonly referred to as PATA, which is short for Parallel AT Attachment after the introduction of SATA. Today, almost all home computers use the ATA interface, including Apple computers, which use SATA.
The ATA standard is backward compatible, which means new ATA drives (excluding SATA) can be used with older ATA interfaces. Additionally, any new feature introduced is also found in all future releases. For example, ATA-4 has support for PIO modes 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, even though these were first introduced in ATA-1 and ATA-2.
Below is a listing of each ATA standard to help provide a better understanding of the history behind this interface and each standards capability.
ATA, ATA-1, and IDE
First developed by Control Data Corporation, Western Digital, and Compaq and utilized an 8-bit or 16-bit interface with a transfer rate of up to 8.3 MBps, and PIO modes 0, 1, and 2 support. Today, ATA and ATA-1, are considered obsolete.
ATA-2, EIDE, Fast ATA, Fast IDE, and Ultra ATA
ATA-2, more commonly known as EIDE, and sometimes known as Fast ATA or Fast IDE, is a standard approved by ANSI in 1996 under document number X3.279-1996. ATA-2 introduces new PIO modes of 3 and 4, transfer rates of up to 16.6 MBps, DMA modes 1 and 2, LBA support, and supports drives up to 8.4 GB. Today, ATA-2 is also considered obsolete.
ATA-3, and EIDE
ATA-4, ATAPI-4, and ATA/ATAPI-4
ATA-4 is a standard approved by ANSI in 1998 under document NCITS 317-1998. ATA-4 includes ATAPI packet commands, and introduces UDMA/33, also known as ultra-DMA/33 or ultra-ATA/33, which supports data transfer rates of up to 33 MBps.
ATA-5 and ATA/ATAPI-5
ATA-5 is a standard approved by ANSI in 2000 under document NCITS 340-2000. ATA-5 adds support for Ultra-DMA/66, which is capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 66 MBps, and has the capability of detecting between 40 or 80-wire cables.
ATA-6 and ATA/ATAPI-6
ATA-6 is a standard approved by ANSI in 2001 under document NCITS 347-2001. ATA-6 added support for Ultra-DMA/100 and has a transfer rate of up to 100 MBps.
The above ATA interfaces on a 3.5-inch disk drives have a 40-pin connector and are capable of supporting up to two drives per interface. However, 2.5-inch hard drives use a 50-pin connector and PCMCIA utilizes a 68-pin connector. Below is a description of each of the pins on a 40-pin ATA interface.
|3||Data 7||4||Data 8|
|5||Data 6||6||Data 9|
|7||Data 5||8||Data 10|
|9||Data 4||10||Data 11|
|11||Data 3||12||Data 12|
|13||Data 2||14||Data 13|
|15||Data 1||16||Data 14|
|17||Data 0||18||Data 15|
|27||IOC HRDY||28||Cable Select|
|35||Addr 0||36||Addr 2|
|37||Chip Select 1P||38||Chip Select 3P|