Maybe you just know that PATA is one of the hard drives but don’t know the exact meaning of it. Now, you can read this post from MiniTool to find more detailed information about it. This post tells you the definition, history, advantages, and disadvantages of it.

At present, we can divide the hard disk into four types – Parallel ATA (PATA), Serial ATA, Small Computer System Interface, Solid State Drives. This post is focusing on PATA. If you want to learn the information about other hard disks, this post – Different Types of Hard Drives: Which One Should You Choose is what you need.

Parallel ATA (PATA)

What Is PATA

What is PATA? Parallel ATA (PATA) drives are one of the hard drive types. They are also known as integrated drive electronics (IDE) or enhanced integrated drive electronics (EIDE) drives. It is the first hard drive connected to a computer using the PATA interface standard. To learn more information about PATA, continue to read this post from MiniTool.


The PATA drive was developed by Western Digital in 1986. It provides a driver with a common interface, which can be used on different devices commonly at the time. PATA drives can provide data transfer rates up to 133 MB/s. In the master/slave configuration, two PATA drives can be connected with one cable.

Up to four PATA drives can be connected to a single motherboard because most motherboards have two channels for IDE connections. Maybe you are interested in this post – [2020 Guide] How to Choose a Motherboard for Your PC.


Since PATA’s main function is to directly connect to the 16-bit ISA, the standard was originally conceived as “AT Bus Attachment”, officially known as “AT accessory” and abbreviated as “ATA”. The original ATA specification issued by the Standards Committee uses the name “AT Attachment”.

“AT” in IBM PC/AT is called “Advanced Technology”, so ATA is also called “Advanced Technology Attachment”. When the updated Serial ATA (SATA) was introduced in 2003, the physical ATA interface has become a standard component of all PCs.

Also see: How to Upgrade IDE to SATA Hard Drive Without Reinstalling OS

Originally on the host bus adapter, sometimes on the sound card, but ultimately two physical interfaces are embedded in the southbridge chip of the motherboard’s Southbridge chip. They are called “primary” and “secondary” ATA interfaces, and they are assigned to the basic addresses 0x1F0 and 0x170 on the ISA bus system.


The advantage of PATA is that the PATA cables have two devices attached to the cable at one time. One is referred to as device 0 (master) and the other device 1 (slave). A common misconception about using two devices on one cable is that they can only run as fast as the slowest device.

However, modern ATA adapters support so-called independent device timing so that both devices can transfer data at their optimal speed.


One of the disadvantages of PATA cable is that it is really big. When the cable is laid on other equipment, this will make the cable bundling and management more difficult. Similarly, large PATA cables make it difficult to cool computer components because the airflow must bypass larger cables.

Another disadvantage of PATA cable is that it is very expensive because it costs more to manufacture one.

PATA Cables & Connectors

PATA cables are flat cables with 40-pin connectors (20×2 matrix) on both sides of the cable. One end of the PATA cable is plugged into the port usually marked IDE on the motherboard, and the other end is plugged into the back of a storage device such as a hard disk.

You may need to use older PATA devices in newer systems with only SATA cables. Or, you may need to do the opposite and use newer SATA devices on older computers that only support PATA. Maybe you want to connect a PATA hard drive to your computer to run a virus scan or back up files.

You need an adapter for those conversions.

1. You can use a SATA to Molex power connector adapter to connect an older PATA device with a power supply that uses 15-pin cable connections.

2. You can use a Molex to SATA adapter to hook up a SATA device with an older power supply that just supports PATA devices with 4-pin power connections.

3. You can use an IDE to USB adapter to connect a PATA hard drive to a computer through USB.

Final Words

What is PATA? This post has gathered the PATA’s definition, history as well as the advantages and disadvantages. If you want to learn some information about PATA, you can refer to this post.

  • linkedin
  • reddit