What is an eSATA ?

External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, simply known as eSATA is an outer interface for SATA technologies. It is used with a universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 and FireWire 400 to give up to speed data transfer for external storage devices. SATA is the replacement for ATA legacy technology as the new generation hard drives internal bus interface. The SATA interface is more efficient than ATA and provides serial architecture for faster speed than the older parallel technology. SATA cables are slim and can be up to three feet in length, whereas parallel cables are much wider and limited to a length of only 18 inches. With eSATA, the speed of SATA expands to cover exterior storage solutions.

While eSATA exceeds the speed for transferring data of FireWire 400 and USB 2.0, it does have a drawback. eSATA needs its own power connector, unlike the FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces. However, it is a great choice for external disk storage. Unlike USB and FireWire interfaces, eSATA does not have to interpret data between the computer and the interface. This speeds up the data transfer, while efficiently using computer processor resources and reducing the need for an extra off-load chip.

For desktop motherboards without an eSATA connector, a bus card can give an eSATA interface. Notebooks can use a PCI peripheral component interconnect card. eSATA utilizes fast SATA drives for disk arrays externally, not only expanding important storage real estate, but also allowing true, fast portable storage. The hot-swappable features of eSATA make taking disks from one computer to another or work to home, a snap. IT techs, administrators, marketing and advertizing executives, and even gamers will benefit from eSATA. SATA has different standards, with older hardware versions to support the original standard exclusively.

With each new iteration of SATA, speed increases. Original SATA, or SATA/150, has a speed of 150 megabytes per second data transfer. SATA/3Gbs or SATA II doubled the speed to 3 gigabits per second. This is referred to as SATA/300. When buying an eSATA controller or bus card, be sure it supports the SATA standard required by your SATA hard drive. Hardware supporting newer standards is normally backwards compatible with older devices, but the reverse does not hold. An eSATA controller specifically made for SATA/150, for instance, will not be able to support the faster transfer speeds of a SATA/300 hard drive.

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