What is ATA-6?

R. Kayne

Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) is an interface for internal computer storage components. ATA-6 is a specification within the ATA family that denotes a particular type of ATA with corresponding data transfer speeds. The conventional ATA cable is recognizable as a very wide, flat cable with 40 or 80 wires running parallel in a ribboned sheath. Connectors have 40-pins that attach to a device such as a hard disk drive or CD-ROM. The opposite end of the cable attaches to an Enhanced Integrated Device Electronics (EIDE) interface on the motherboard or host card.

ATA-6 is used to interface with computer hard drives.
ATA-6 is used to interface with computer hard drives.

ATA has advanced through the years to bring better data transfer speeds. As it improves, each new standard is attributed a numeral to differentiate it from previous standards. As of 2006, there are eight varieties of ATA.

ATA-6 represents the sixth generation of the ATA interface standard. ATA-6 is also known as Ultra ATA/100 for its theoretical transfer speed of 100 megabytes per second (mbps). Another name is ATA Packet Interface (ATAPI) 6, which is the ATA-6 specification for additional commands that pertain to CD-ROM function.

Ultra Direct Memory Access (UDMA)-5 is another term you’ll see associated with ATA-6. UDMA-5 denotes the type of memory addressing used in ATA-6, which includes 48-bit Logical Block Addressing (LBA). LBA is a feature written into the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) chipset of motherboards. ATA-6 utilizes the 48-bit version of the LBA mapping scheme for faster data access. LBA mapping has existed since ATA-2, but at that time, a 28-bit LBA specification was in use.

As hard disks have grown in capacity, mapping schemes have had to keep pace. ATA-1 supported hard drives up to 137 megabytes. ATA-6 introduced support for drives up to 144 petabytes. That’s about one million gigabytes.

Newer ATA standards changed from a parallel data transfer scheme to serial data transfer. Serial ATA (SATA) uses narrower 4-wire cables and is a preferred interface with faster data transfer speeds. ATA-7 introduced SATA, while ATA-8 is designated for use with hybrid drives that feature internal flash memory cache.

Hard drives are built to conform to particular ATA specifications. Newer drives are built to newer ATA standards. ATA-6 represents the last generation of hard drives and CD-ROM/DVD players built to use conventional parallel ATA (PATA). If purchasing an older drive, look for one that is ATA-6 compliant to get the fastest drive in that class. Otherwise, opt for the newer and even faster SATA drives, assuming your motherboard is SATA-compatible.

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Discussion Comments

anon244903

I work on a lot of laptops and need to be able to slave a Toshiba HDD 1764 1 x ZIF Ultra ATA/100 (ATA-6) IDE/EIDE drives which are common in DELL systems.

I am not sure what the connector is on the other end of the ribbon cable that is attached to the zif connector on the drive.

I need an easy way to slave/dock these drives and would like to use this plug on the ribbon cable rather than the zif connector on the drive.

anon46635

I want to replace my Toshiba ATA-6 mk4026gax 40 GB hard drive with another one with greater capacity, but don't know which. Could you advive. My laptopn is a Toshiba Portege Tablet. Thank you.

anon40824

Hi. it'd be nice to have the chronology (years) next to each standard so people can compare to the age of a computer they have.

anon23674

Is there another compatible hard drive I can use in the Toshiba Satellite M45 (HTS541010G9AT00 ata/ide 5400rpm travelstar?

tyshiloh

My laptop Harddrive just died and the old one is an Hitachi TravelStar HTS541010G9AT00 @100MB @ 5400 RPM ATA-6, I was wondering if i could replace it with a SATA or other type or interface, or if i had to replace it with another ATA-6? If so can I use an upgraded Hitachi 160 MB ?

anon18371

@anon2621: As the text above already mentioned..

"ATA-6 is also known as Ultra ATA/100"

anon14961

My laptop Harddrive just died and the old one is an ATA-6, i was wondering if i could replace it with a SATA or other type or interface, or if i had to replace it with another ATA-6?

Watty162

My laptop Harddrive just died and the old one is an ATA-6, i was wondering if i could replace it with a SATA or other type or interface, or if i had to replace it with another ATA-6?

anon2621

I have an old laptop that has a DMA/ATA-100 (Ultra) drive and i was wondering if ata-6 is compatible with DMA/ATA-100 (Ultra)?

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