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Whats the deal with SATA power connectors?

Tags:
  • Hard Drives
  • SATA
  • Power
  • Cable
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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September 12, 2006 7:05:05 PM

I just don't get it.

They go and make the data cable all nice and small and then they come up with some crazy dozen pin monstrosity for the power.

Plus the SATA power connectors don't stay in place like the 4 pin molex connectors or even the SATA data cables.

If I use the 4 pin power connectors I can pull out my hard drive cage and clean my intake fans while my system is running without disloding a data or power cable.

If I were try that with using my PSU's SATA power connectors at least on of the hard drive would lose power.

---

I am just curious if anyone knows why the SATA power connector has so many pins and is so oddly designed.

Also if anyone has any good tips on how to make sure the SATA power connections don't come lose when moved let me know.

More about : whats deal sata power connectors

September 12, 2006 7:24:28 PM

Quote:
I just don't get it.

They go and make the data cable all nice and small and then they come up with some crazy dozen pin monstrosity for the power.

Plus the SATA power connectors don't stay in place like the 4 pin molex connectors or even the SATA data cables.

If I use the 4 pin power connectors I can pull out my hard drive cage and clean my intake fans while my system is running without disloding a data or power cable.

If I were try that with using my PSU's SATA power connectors at least on of the hard drive would lose power.

---

I am just curious if anyone knows why the SATA power connector has so many pins and is so oddly designed.

Also if anyone has any good tips on how to make sure the SATA power connections don't come lose when moved let me know.



Beats me too.

You could ty-wrap the power cables to chassis or something else before the HD, then have enough slack cable between the ty-wrap and HD, so they don't pull when you pull out the HD.
September 12, 2006 7:32:37 PM

just a dab of hot glue
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September 12, 2006 7:47:15 PM

If you use WD drives, you can get their quick connectors. They hold much better.
September 12, 2006 7:50:34 PM

Quote:
If I use the 4 pin power connectors I can pull out my hard drive cage and clean my intake fans while my system is running without disloding a data or power cable.


any reason why your system must be running when you are cleaning it? IMO sata power cables are better, mine are more secure than molex
September 12, 2006 8:08:35 PM

Probably designed that way for hot swap chassis.
September 12, 2006 8:15:07 PM

agree with Pain, they are hot swappable so easy removal would require 'loose' connectors
September 12, 2006 8:18:49 PM

Quote:
I just don't get it.

They go and make the data cable all nice and small and then they come up with some crazy dozen pin monstrosity for the power.

Plus the SATA power connectors don't stay in place like the 4 pin molex connectors or even the SATA data cables.

If I use the 4 pin power connectors I can pull out my hard drive cage and clean my intake fans while my system is running without disloding a data or power cable.

If I were try that with using my PSU's SATA power connectors at least on of the hard drive would lose power.

---

I am just curious if anyone knows why the SATA power connector has so many pins and is so oddly designed.

Also if anyone has any good tips on how to make sure the SATA power connections don't come lose when moved let me know.


Why this funky design? Because they wanted to reinvent the wheel.

How to keep the power connecter on? Easy. Disassemble your hard drive, cut-off the end of the power connector and strip the wires. Now solder the power cable wires to your hard drive and reassemble.
September 12, 2006 8:19:30 PM

Yup, hot swapping wouldnt need tight fitting connectors, although why there isnt a locking system like on audio cables beats me. Plus of course, being hot swappable, is the disk gets unplugged, just plug it back in. No harm done.

And as for the system being on when cleaning it... WHY?
September 12, 2006 8:20:20 PM

How about Duct-tape? :lol: 
September 12, 2006 8:21:07 PM

Quote:
I am just curious if anyone knows why the SATA power connector has so many pins and is so oddly designed

They are designed for reliable hot swap operation, without need for an additional expensive connector and PCB adapter like SCSI and PATA require.
Connectors positions on the drive PCB are defined by the SATA standard itself, so you only need a generic hot swap frame with fixed data and power connectors for any type of SATA unit.

The high number of pins is needed to reduce the current-per-pin in order to avoid arcs during hot disconnections.
September 12, 2006 8:25:38 PM

Quote:
If you use WD drives, you can get their quick connectors. They hold much better.


Good tip, but I have a question about it:

One end of that WD cable connects to the power and sata connectors on the hard drive. The other end, I assume, connects to the sata data port on the MB. According to WD, if I use this $10 WD part, I still have to use the legacy power adapter to ensure "stability".

Are they saying that I still have to use the 4-pin Molex connector? If not, WTF is this legacy power connector they are talking about? If I still have to connect another power adapter, then why the hell would I bother to get this new cable?
September 12, 2006 8:26:02 PM

Because my PC is on 24x7 and is ofen doing something that I don't want interrupted, like downloading files and converting movies.

But actually I alway power down the PC when cleaning it. I did knock a power cable lose once by simply moving the 3' SATA cable I have dangling out the back of my case for use by my SATA controller. Also if I move my PC by car I have to check the connectors before turning it on.

Anyway I just use the regular 4 pin connectors now which never come lose.

I am just wondering if there is a purpose behind this seemingly idotic design with all those extra pins?

BTW WD's Secure Connect doesn't make your SATA power cable more secure, its used to secure the data cable which I never had a problem with. It actually blocks the SATA power connection completely forcing you to use the 4 pin connector.
September 12, 2006 8:28:02 PM

Quote:
I am just curious if anyone knows why the SATA power connector has so many pins and is so oddly designed

They are designed for reliable hot swap operation, without need for an additional expensive connector and PCB adapter like SCSI and PATA require.
Connectors positions on the drive PCB are defined by the SATA standard itself, so you only need a generic hot swap frame with fixed data and power connectors for any type of SATA unit.

The high number of pins is needed to reduce the current-per-pin in order to avoid arcs during hot disconnections.

This guy sounds as if he actually knows something useful! He is already too smart to be in these forums! :) 
September 12, 2006 8:29:47 PM

I have a pair of WD SATA drives and they have both molex and sata power connectors. If your drive has both you could just use the molex ones.
September 12, 2006 8:30:28 PM

The man above told you. The extra pins are to reduce current draw on any one pin. Sounds like you have the solution. Use the molex connector if you don't have a HS chassis.
September 12, 2006 8:44:30 PM

I personally HATE the SATA connectors. They're so loose and fragile. Just 2 weeks ago I was being just a tad too rough and snapped the little plastic SATA connector tab right off my expensive raptor HD. Luckily the metal pronges were sticking out still and not damaged. So I superglued the little tab in place and then o-so-carefully placed a new connector on it. It works!

I mean, you have a tight spot to work with wires pulling all over the place. And then you have these 2" SATA connectors sticking off the back of a HD. Even the slightest force snaps them right off. And those stupid little "L" shaped grove is impossible to see without a 5 million candle power spot light in there....just stupid design....stupid, stupid stupid!
September 12, 2006 8:50:08 PM

Quote:
I personally HATE the SATA connectors. They're so loose and fragile. Just 2 weeks ago I was being just a tad too rough and snapped the little plastic SATA connector tab right off my expensive raptor HD. Luckily the metal pronges were sticking out still and not damaged. So I superglued the little tab in place and then o-so-carefully placed a new connector on it. It works!

I mean, you have a tight spot to work with wires pulling all over the place. And then you have these 2" SATA connectors sticking off the back of a HD. Even the slightest force snaps them right off. And those stupid little "L" shaped grove is impossible to see without a 5 million candle power spot light in there....just stupid design....stupid, stupid stupid!



Yes, but what are you REALLY trying to say?
September 12, 2006 8:57:50 PM

The SATA spec actually calls for 5 inputs :-

+12v, 0v, +5v, 0v, +3.3v.

Adaptors dont connect the +3.3v, as its not in the molex connector, and only used in lowpower (notbook mostly) hard disks.

The reason there are 15 pins rather than 5 is that the connectors on the drive itself are staggered for hot swap compatibility, certain ones connect/disconnect in certain orders.
September 12, 2006 9:08:50 PM

Do what I do, use the 90 degree ones to avoid that long tail hanging out.
September 12, 2006 9:17:44 PM

I've heard such rumors those exist. I'm too cheap to buy all new ones. Plus, I have three drives stacked on top of each other, would the L shaped connectors get in the way of each other in this case?

The connectors should be like RJ45 jacks with as flexible of wire. External enclosures could just have a secondary attachment method (an in-between connector for hotswap). Wouldn't that be nice? I could attach a RJ45 type wire on there and swing my HD around like a wrecking ball without worries of it coming undone.

Oh, and here's another story about crappy SATA. My SATA CD/DVD drive (one of the few) was starting to not read discs and I actually bought 400 discs thinking the brand I had was incombatiable. I then ordered a new CD/DVD drive thinking it was just junked. When I got in the case I noticed the SATA connector was slighty cocked to one side and not 100% on. It was very close but not perfect. Pushing it on straight solved my problem. (I know I should have checked that first!). But this just illustrates again how sucky SATA connectors are.
September 12, 2006 9:38:31 PM

Quote:
When I got in the case I noticed the SATA connector was slighty cocked to one side and not 100% on.


happens to many ppl, even with an ide cable. i was moving the cable into an empty 5.25" bay inside the case, went to boot and nothing happened. took me 2 seconds to realise that the cable wasnt on right because common sense kicked in and i decided to check the cables before spending money replacing something that was 'broke' put it on right and hey presto everything worked.
September 12, 2006 9:41:50 PM

hence y before i put anything into a pc case, i would boot all new electronics on a benchtop using the good ol phone book. A paper clip serves as a Power Switch rather well...
September 12, 2006 10:00:54 PM

Quote:

The reason for the 15-pin connector is so that different voltages are supplied to the appropriate places. In addition to the customary 5v and 12v wires, new 3.3v wires are included for the new devices. 9 of the pins provided are for the positive, negative and ground contacts for each voltage. The remaining 6 connectors are for the hot-swappable feature of SATA, designating an additional two contacts per voltage for this.


I understand the need for the ground wires. I came across a bad HD which shorted one of the rails to ground when connected. It came from a PC with a blacked PSU. Luckliy my PSU simply shutoff imediately after I pressed power or that drive would have killed again!

I still don't get how two pins are better than one from an arching standpoint? The current is only distributed when both are connected, surely one of the pins must make/break contact before the other?

I found multiple refrences to the two pins per voltage being related to hot swaping, so I belive it, I just don't understand it.

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I also don't see whay hotswapping means falls off at the slightest nudge.

USB cables don't fall off when nudged. Seems like they could have just make the socket a bit deeper.

I am conviced that the engineers who came up with the connector should have drank less beer and more caffine when they designed the SATA poser cable.
September 12, 2006 10:09:59 PM

Sometimes when it's 1am and you're pissed off trying to fix some computer problem you just don't think clearly. I've spent all night trying to fix something and then after a good nights sleep the very next thing I try works perfectly and my problem is solved. We've all been there I'd wager.
September 12, 2006 10:38:57 PM

Quote:

The reason for the 15-pin connector is so that different voltages are supplied to the appropriate places. In addition to the customary 5v and 12v wires, new 3.3v wires are included for the new devices. 9 of the pins provided are for the positive, negative and ground contacts for each voltage. The remaining 6 connectors are for the hot-swappable feature of SATA, designating an additional two contacts per voltage for this.


I understand the need for the ground wires. I came across a bad HD which shorted one of the rails to ground when connected. It came from a PC with a blacked PSU. Luckliy my PSU simply shutoff imediately after I pressed power or that drive would have killed again!

I still don't get how two pins are better than one from an arching standpoint? The current is only distributed when both are connected, surely one of the pins must make/break contact before the other?

I found multiple refrences to the two pins per voltage being related to hot swaping, so I belive it, I just don't understand it.

---

I also don't see whay hotswapping means falls off at the slightest nudge.

USB cables don't fall off when nudged. Seems like they could have just make the socket a bit deeper.

I am conviced that the engineers who came up with the connector should have drank less beer and more caffine when they designed the SATA poser cable.


You're distributing the current across 3 pins instead of one. So if the draw is 6 amps at 12v, instead of pulling one 6 amp connection apart, you pull 3 2 amp connections apart. Less current per connection means less chance of an arc. Where you're misunderstanding is that the wires are not connected upstream. It isn't simply a split of one wire into 3, connected, then back into one, it is 3 seperate electrical connections between power source and HD. So the most any would draw in my example is 2 amps.

True, if it was a split, then the first pin to pull off would shift the draw to the other two, not really changing anything. But with 3 physically seperate wires all the way, this doesn't happen.
September 12, 2006 10:46:52 PM

Molex doesn't work so well for backpane connections. If you have ever seen a SATA backpane, you will understand completely why the SATA spec requires the power connectors this way. It also ties into the SAS spec, since SATA and SAS are going to be cross compatible.

For those who don't know what a backpane is, in a server environment, a backpane is a PCB that has the data and power connectors set up for multiple drives, to ease the removal and insertion of those drives.

I would not be surprised to start seeing backpanes become more available for desktop cases (and not just servers) as SATA becomes a more widely adopted standard.
September 12, 2006 11:11:29 PM

I used to have problems with my old rig. The sata data cables would disconnect themselves from time to time. This is with the case closed & no human interferance. It was a major pain in the ass, but I never lost any data.

My new Gigabyte DS3 came with 4x Yellow Sata Data cables, with little locking clips on the ends. They are fantastic, secure & reliable. I wish I knew where I could buy more, I hate the cheapo red sata cables.

Apart from that, I've loving Sata.
September 12, 2006 11:59:22 PM

I got 4 nice red SATA cables with little locking clips with my ABIT AT8 32X. They lock in with a nice solid click on both the drive end and the mother board end. I just have to remember that they are there. I have tried to pull them off a couple times without releasing the clip. I got too used to the loose cables.
September 13, 2006 6:37:00 PM

Does anybody know if you can get SATA cable with 90/180 degree ends AND locking clips? Preferably somewhere in Canada. Anybody know of a store with a good selection of cables in Canada? The stores I regularily check out don't seem to have a very good selection at all (at least for cables).
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