Computer Hardware

Difference Between SATA and SAS

June 3, 2021 • 10 min read

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Differences Between SATA and SAS

When trying to determine the difference between SATA connectors and SAS connectors it is important to first note that these two technologies are connected by their usage in transferring data from motherboard to storage and back again. While they do roughly the same thing, the hardware making up each component is different, thereby creating different results.

Displaying the difference between SATA connectors and SAS connectors, Image Source

So, What Exactly is SATA and SAS?

To better understand the difference between SATA and SAS let’s break down the parts of a computer that interact with these two technologies.


Motherboard

The Motherboard is where all of these pieces reside. It is the thin circuit board connecting all the vital parts that make up your computer. 

Image of Motherboard, Image Source

Within the Motherboard there are two important pieces of technology: the CPU and the GPU which are used to receive and execute various instructions from computer programs by sending appropriate signals throughout the Motherboard and its components.


Storage

Inside of a hard drive, Image Source

The Storage is your HDD or SSD that contains all the memory and data stored for your workstation. Storage itself doesn’t necessarily do anything, but it is an important part of the difference between SATA and SAS. Many of the other components connected to the Motherboard will retrieve and send information from/to Storage.


Connectors

As you might imagine, SATA connectors and SAS connectors are connectors that act as pathways for the electrical signals transmitting information and data throughout the components of the Motherboard. As connectors, SATA and SAS are used to transfer and transmit data from one place to another.


SATA and SAS Usage

Image of person using analytics program, Image Source

The pathways that connect the Motherboard and Storage are where SATA and SAS come into play. They are both examples of serial communication, which means these cable pathways can transfer data both ways simultaneously: from storage to motherboard and from motherboard to storage.

To illustrate this, imagine you are running a program on your workstation and opening a file for a project.

Via the SATA and SAS connectors, the motherboard receives that file information from storage and then sends it to the CPU. Each time you save your progress in the program that information gets sent through the motherboard back to storage.

You can imagine how this process is repeated hundreds and thousands of times a day on your workstation. So, the SATA and SAS play a large role in your daily computer usage, which makes all the difference when data transmission is concerned.

The Difference Between SATA and SAS

Image of server row of hard drives with SATA connectors and SAS connectors, Image Source

There are a few main differences between SATA connectors and SAS connectors.

SATA stands for serial advanced technology attachment and is derived from its updated format of the previous connector technology called parallel communication.

SAS stands for serial attached SCSI, and SCSI stands for small computer systems interface. SAS connectors are a newer technology compared to SATA connectors.

The differences between the two are in how the connectors are built.

SATA connectors are made with:

  • 2 wires serving as conductors for sending data
  • 2 wires for receiving data
  • All contained within 1 SATA cable

SAS connectors are made with:

  • 2 SAS cables each consisting of:
    • 1 wire serving as a conductor for sending data
    • 1 wire to receive data

A key difference between SATA and SAS is that SATA uses one cable and SAS uses two cables.

This difference is important for communication or storage. When you think about data transmission for servers, SAS is more suitable for servers where many storage devices can be used and connect with more CPUs, GPUs, and motherboards. SAS allows for tasks to be performed quickly while utilizing storage efficiently.

SATA becomes the universal standard for home computers and workstations because they prioritize writing speed for quicker communication and dedicated storage. However, SAS does outpace SATA for workstations and home computers that perform intensive video editing or animation. This is because SAS can read and write simultaneously, whereas SATA connectors can become bogged down by that amount of processing.

Depending on your needs, SATA and SAS connectors are an essential component of any computer. Just like anything, they come with their specific use cases. So whether you’re looking for SATA cables or SAS cables, make sure it’s recommended for whatever project you’re trying to tackle next.


How Do I Purchase SATA and SAS?

Many computers come with SATA or SAS connectors included during a purchase, but if you’re building a machine from scratch or optimizing a server, you’ll need to order more connectors separately.

There are SATA and SAS connectors in both HDD and SSD hard drives

Graphic depicting an HDD vs an SSD, Image Source

SSD is definitely going to be our recommendation for faster reading and writing of information. The main consideration is how much storage you are looking for because a SSD will have less storage at a similar price point to an HDD which will have more storage at the same price point. If performance is the goal then SSD is the way to go.

To make it easier for you, you can check out our store page for SAS hard drives, and SATA hard drives.Then, you can take advantage of these filters and look for a specific SSD or HDD based on your preferences.

In short, SAS is generally more expensive than SATA, but is usually a better option for servers and process-heavy applications.

SATA is generally less expensive than SAS, and typically a better choice for desktop and home computer workstations.

However, both of these descriptions are an oversimplification of what each offers and how they function. To grasp a better understanding of the difference between SATA and SAS we have to dive a little deeper.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About SATA & SAS

What is a SATA connector?

SATA (Serial AT Attachment) is a computer interface/connector that connects host bus adapters to storage devices like hard drives (HDD), optical drives, and solid-state drives (SSD).

What is a SAS connector?

SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) is a serial protocol moving data to and from storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD) and tape drives.

How many pins does a SATA connector have?

A SATA data cable has 7 pins and a SATA power cable has 15 pins.

How many pins does a SAS connector have?

SAS connectors are usually 7-pin connection points.

What is the purpose of a SATA style power connector on the motherboard?

The purpose of the SATA power connector and SATA data connector is to power the device and enable data transmission for a device connected to the bus interface such as hard drives or disk drives.


Get More Helpful Insights in Other Articles

Would you rather go with SATA connectors or SAS connectors after reading about the differences between SATA and SAS? We want to help you make the best decision possible, so please reach out to us! If you have any questions or want to suggest some other topics for us to focus on, please feel free to contact us.

You can find other articles and comparisons elsewhere on the SabrePC blog. Keep a lookout for more helpful articles that will be on the way soon.



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sata

sas

motherboard

storage

hard drive

ssd

connectors



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