The modern storage facilities available for computers are many and varied. There are many interfaces used to connect these cards to the host computer or portable notebook. Of the varied cords used to interface these storage facilities, the Serial ATA (Serial Advancement Technology) is one of the most modernised and highly used cables. SATA hard drives form the more advanced and faster core of hardware power and data lines offering speeds up to 3 GB/s (for data transfer). These data cables and standardised formats for use in mass storage devices have become the advent children of modern computer organisation and architecture, overthrowing the age old IDE drives for both optical media transcription and magnetic palette and disc storage devices.
eSATA is the new form of standardisation used in external storage devices. The ‘e’ in eSATA stands for ‘external’. The externalisation of both the drive as well as power means that although it is a power hog, the eSATA device has a massive advantage over USB or Firewire cables in terms of raw speed and data read/write capability. With a rated data transfer speed of up to 3 Gigabits per second, the eSATA drives monstrously overtake USB cables, offering more than triple the speed that USB’s and Firewire cables could offer. Dedicated cables for power indicate that the eSATA drive will not be consuming power from the computer, and thus have to be more rugged and insulated from power overload. Although the price of the eSATA drive is bound to increase, the functionality it offers would prove to be a bargain for all those road warriors who want faster access to their portable data.
As the data cable is itself a SATA cable and plugs directly into the SATA port, it does not need to code the information in a USB or Firewire compatible language, and the computer does not need to decode the information from the USB or Firewire port into hard drive information and thus accessing and writing data has very little lag attached to it. And since the eSATA drives store easily accessible computer formatted data, they can also be booted from the BIOS, needing no extra support from the BIOS (such as USB booting etc.)
Though the disadvantage of having an external power port presents many problems, these are overcome by modifying the power cable into a USB male port, deriving power only from the computer system. Later modifications may also include a power over SATA wire twisted along with the main eSATA wire, allowing the hard drive to draw power from the system itself.