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Defining Term

Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA)


Refers to a hard drive interface standard first approved in 1994 by ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

Defined As

note: ATA is also known as IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics).

ATA-1 (standard withdrawn in August 1999)
The ATA-1 standard (referred to as simply ATA) was the original ATA interface used in the old IBM AT computers, ATA-1 allowed for 2 hard drives to be connected in the (now familiar) Master and Slave configuration, it also specified DMA and PIO support.

ATA-1 used what is known as CHS (Cylinder, Head, Sector) addressing, whereby a block of data would be identified by its cylinder, head and sector parameters, at the time, this (along with some BIOS issues) limited the size of the hard drives to 528MB. ATA-1 supported: PIO modes 0, 1 & 2
DMA (single word) modes 0, 1 & 2 - DMA (multiword) mode 0.
Data Transfer Rates: 3.3MBps and 8.3MBps.

ATA-2 (standard withdrawn in 2001)
The main advantage that ATA-2 brought with it was the introduction of LBA (Logical Block Addressing) addressing, this was a major improvement to the CHS addressing system used in ATA-1, the LBA system gave unique identifiers to blocks of data on the drive, each identifier is 28 bits long, which gives up to 137GB of possible storage. ATA-2 added support for: PIO modes 3 & 4
DMA (multiword) modes 1 & 2
Data Transfer Rates: 11.1MBps and 16.7MBps.

ATA-3 (standard withdrawn in 2002)
Included in the ATA-3 revision was the very handy SMART (Self-Monitoring and Analysis Tool) tool, the onboard circuitry monitored the drives behavior and was capable of alerting the BIOS and OS when a drive failure was probable.

ATA-3 was the first ATA revision to include password security.
Data Transfer Rates: 11.1MBps and 16.7MBps.

ATAPI (Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface)
ATAPI was developed for the purpose of connecting other storage devices such as CD-ROM drives and tape drives to the ATA interface.

Although ATAPI uses the same cabling as normal ATA hard drives, the data is sent in packets (hence the name), these packets are created and organized by what is known as an ATAPI driver, they are then transferred using standard PIO or DMA transfer modes.

ATA-ATAPI-4 (AT Attachment interface with Packet Interface Extension)
This was the first ATA implementation to integrate ATAPI.

ATA-ATAPI-4 also introduced a new 80 pin (opposed to 40 pin) interface cable along with UltraDMA modes and Cyclical Redundancy Checking (CRC). ATA-ATAPI-4 added support for: Ultra DMA modes 0, 1 and 2.
Data Transfer Rates: 16.7MBps, 25MBps and 33MBps (known as UltraDMA/33)

ATA-ATAPI-5 (AT Attachment with Packet Interface-5)
ATA/ATAPI-5 saw the introduction of several new commands as well as the removal of some of the older ATA commands such as Format Track and Read/Write Long.
Data Transfer Rates: 44.4MBps and 66.7MBps (known as UltraDMA/66)

ATA-ATAPI-6 (AT Attachment with Packet Interface-6)
ATA/ATAPI-6 implemented a new faster UltraDMA mode capable of 100MBps data transfer. It increased the Logical Block Addressing (LBA) identifiers from 28 bits to 48 bits enabling larger drive capacity, it also increased the sector count from 8 to 16 bits.
Data Transfer Rates: 100MBps (known as UltraDMA/100)

ATA-ATAPI-7 (AT Attachment with Packet Interface-7)
ATA/ATAPI-7 saw the inclusion of UltraDMA mode 6.
Data Transfer Rates: 133MBps (known to as UltraDMA/133)

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