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A serial advanced technology attachment, also known as serial ATA or SATA, is a method of attaching storage devices to a computer. Gigabyte SATA is a specific type of software and hardware interface, called a controller, for an SATA system. These drive controllers are made by JMicron Technology Corporation and are used by several companies, most notably Gigabyte Technology. Gigabyte Technology makes a wide range of computer hardware, but focuses heavily on motherboards. In addition, gigabyte SATA may refer to the speeds at which SATA drives transmit data.
SATA technology is a method of attaching high-capacity drives to a computer system. This technology replaced the long-standing parallel advanced technology attachment, also known as PATA. While the technology was properly called PATA, it was generally referred to as an integrated drive electronics (IDE) interface. SATA is faster and more stable than IDE, and the cables are significantly smaller.
Originally, Intel made most SATA controllers. These controllers are a type of integrated software that controls the interaction between the hardware drive and the motherboard. Since the early days of SATA, other manufacturers have come out with new controller interfaces, but Intel, Gigabyte Technologies and the Marvell Technology Group make up the bulk of them.
There are a few key differences between the controllers made by the three companies. Gigabyte SATA controllers will occasionally have problems with some bootloaders. This problem makes if difficult, if not impossible, to run a Linux installation over some Gigabyte SATA controllers. On the other hand, certain solid state technologies work much better on the Gigabyte system than others. Marvell is a relative newcomer, with no real strengths or weaknesses.
It isn’t uncommon for a motherboard to have a Gigabyte SATA controller as well as ones made by other companies. In order to show people that different controllers govern certain ports, they will be color-coded. Motherboard connectors governed by Intel are yellow or orange, any run by Gigabyte are purple and Marvell Technology has blue ones—but that is not always the case. Some manufacturers simply color the ports to make it easier to reference the location during construction.
Gigabyte SATA may also refer to the speed of an SATA drive. There are currently three revisions of the SATA interface, each faster than the last. SATA version one had a top speed of 1.5 gigabytes per second (Gb/s), SATA version two maxed out at 3 Gb/s and version three runs at 6 Gb/s. In this case, a three-gigabyte SATA drive would refer to a second-generation system.
@Logicfest -- You can still find these controllers in some external hard drives I believe, but it is important to point out that the user will never have to deal with the controllers at all. Just plug the drive into a USB port and let the built in controller and software take care of everything else.
Keep in mind that you only have to worry about this stuff if you are buying an internal hard drive. An external one has its own, self contained controllers and is generally attached to your computer through a USB cable.
In other words, if you buy a system with a large capacity, internal hard drive you will probably never deal with these controllers at all. Still, it is good to know what you are getting into if you order an internal drive and want to install it yourself.
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