What’s the Difference Between Hard Drive Acronyms


The Question:

When you are shopping for a new hard drive, it can sometimes be a bit confusing when similar, or not so similar terminology is all mixed together in the product’s description.

I know that SATA uses a SATA interface and ATA uses an IDE interface, but why is it using different “terms” in the same sentence? An HDD has either a SATA interface or an IDE interface, but not both at the same time.

Is ATA the same as IDE/PATA or SATA?

The Answer:

Serial ATA is the connection/connector interface while ATA-8 is the protocol for that interface. IDE was the interface and it also used an ATA protocol for communication. IDE and ATA are not the same thing, just as SATA and ATA are not the same either.

To be clear, IDE defined that a hard drive should have Integrated Device Electronics (I.e. a controller) onboard and communication with the host should be done according to the ATA specifications. While IDE and ATA are very closely related, they are not the same thing.

IDE has been reverse-acronymed as PATA since the interface was a parallel connection using the ATA standard. SATA is a Serial ATA connection.


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