What is ATA?
ATA (AT Attachment) is an industry standard for connecting storage to computers.
ATA replaced earlier technologies such as MFM, RLL, and ESDI. ATA currently competes with SCSI.
ATA is a specification for attaching hard drives to the AT bus. The AT specification has been extended to include other storage, such as CD/DVD drives, tape drives, and Zip drives with the Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) additions to the specification.
ATA is also known as IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics).
Parallel ATA Cables
Parallel ATA cables originally contained 40 wires.
Parallel ATA cables with 80 wires became standard with the introduction of ATA-5.
In both types of ATA cables, only 40 wires are used to carry signals. The extra 40 wires in 80-wire cables exist to provide a ground wire for each signal wire.
These grounding wires enable the ATA subsystem to operate at higher speeds with greater reliability.
ATA Masters and Slaves
Each ATA bus supports two storage devices. The first storage device is referred to as the Master and the second storage device is called the Slave.
There are two methods for configuring which device is the master and which is the slave: drive jumpers and cable select.
Parallel vs. Serial ATA
Until version 7 of the ATA standard was released in 2004, all versions of ATA utilized parallel transfer of data from the motherboard to the drive controller built onto the disk.
The ATA-7 specification introduced Serial ATA.
The most obvious change with Serial ATA is the difference in drive cables. Other differences include: