The short answer to the question “can you split SATA Data cable?” is a no. SATA data cables cannot be split. In other words, you need to provide a separate data cable to each an every SATA drive you connect to your PC.
This in turn means that you need a separate SATA port on your motherboard for each drive.
SATA Data cables are thin ribbon like cables with identical 7-pin connectors on each end. SATA DATA cables are essentially used for transferring Data to and from the attached hard drives.
SATA Data cables connect to motherboard on one end and to the hard drive on the other end.
SATA Data cables DO NOT carry power. The SATA Power cables are separate and they come from the Power Supply Unit.
In the following text I will talk further about whether you can have a split SATA data cable and what to do if you need to attach more drives.
What are SATA Cables?
SATA cables, as mentioned earlier, are thin ribbon like cables that have 7 pin connectors with an L-shaped key for connecting a SATA storage hard drive to your motherboard.
They serve the essential function of transferring data. They should not be confused with SATA power cables – which serve the purpose of supplying power to the SATA hard drive.
It should be that a SATA hard drive requires both a SATA DATA and SATA Power cable to operate.
Each SATA cables requires a dedicated SATA port on your motherboard. a Typical motherboard often has 4-6 SATA ports.
So Can You Split SATA Data Cable?
People often ask can you split SATA Data cable or whether can you plug two hard drives into one SATA port or whether a SATA cable can be shared.
The answer to all of these questions, unfortunately, is a big no.
In other words, you not only need a separate SATA DATA cable for each and every SATA hard drive, you also need a separate SATA port for each and every SATA hard drive.
SATA vs PATA
Those used to the legacy computers and interfaces would be familiar with the older PATA, aka IDE cables. PATA cables, if you’d recall, could be split.
That cannot be done with SATA, unfortunately. The difference between the two is actually suggested by the name itself. SATA is a SERIAL bus interface where as PATA is a PARALLEL bus interface.
Serial buses cannot be split, parallel buses can be split.
SATA DATA Split Cables SHOULD NOT Be Confused with SAS-to-SATA Cables
If you have looked hard enough into split SATA Data cables, then you may have come across a cable that branches out into several DATA cables, such as the one shown below.
These, unfortunately, do not work the way you think they would. In other words, they are not intended for a SATA port on your motherboard at all.
These cables are called SAS to SATA. These require specialized SAS controllers. Which technically work as switches allowing you to connect multiple drives to one SAS port and can in fact expand the amount of SATA drives you can install on your PC.
Take for instance the following LSI SAS SATA controller. This has two SAS ports. Each port can be used to connect 4 SATA drives using the SAS to 4xSATA port cable as seen above.
Image: LSI’s PCIe v3.0 x8 SAS SATA Controller
These controllers are expensive and are often used for NAS systems.
You Have Run Out of SATA Ports
I have written a comprehensive article on this topic: how to add more SATA ports to motherboard?
But essentially, if you have run out of SATA Ports on your motherboard and you want to add more drives to our PC, then you can do so using three ways.
- SATA Hub Port Multiplier
- SATA PCIe Cards
- SAS SATA Expansion Card
All of these methods have their pros and cons. For instance, SATA Hub Port Multiplier is cheap but does not increase the downstream data rate, whereas the SAS SATA expansion cards are expensive but maintain the downstream data rate.
Can SATA Power Cables be Split?
Unlike the SATA DATA cables, the SATA power cables can be split.
SATA power cables originating from the PSU can be multiplied using simple Y splitter (1-2 power connectors) or using 4x splitter.
Also Read: How Many SATA Drives Can I Connect?
So simply put, the answer to the question “can you split SATA Data Cable?” is a resounding no.
If you have found a cable that has split ends, then perhaps you may confusing it with SATA POWER cables and SAS-to-cables.