Why Are There Different Contact Lengths on SATA Connectors?

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Have you ever looked closely at the length of the plugin contacts on a SATA connector and wondered why they were different lengths instead of identical? Why is that? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

Photo courtesy of Steve Paine (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader Carl B wants to know why there are different contact lengths on SATA connectors:

I have looked around, but cannot seem to learn the reason why. On SATA drives (2.5″ and 3″), there are variable lengths of copper contacts on both the data and power ports on the drives. These variations do not exist on mSATA drives. Is there a reason why these variable lengths are on all SATA plugs?

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Why are there different contact lengths on SATA connectors?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Techie007 has the answer for us:

The longer pins are ground contacts (“GND”).

Data:

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Power:

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Ground contacts are slightly longer than data/power contacts on connectors that are designed for regular plugging and unplugging (especially in the case of hot-swap capable interfaces, like SATA) to ensure that the ground contacts are connected before any data/power ones are. This helps prevent electrical discharge into the device when attaching or removing it.

mSATA is an internal, clamp-down, “permanent” connector type, so it is not intended to be plugged and unplugged on a regular basis (by end users), and definitely not while the power is on.


Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .