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The Hard Disk Technical Guide (Micro House Technical Series)
The Hard Disk Technical Guide (Micro House Technical Series), by Micro House (Micro House), starting at $88.81
Home » Storage
CE-ATA Standard
Author: Gabriel Torres 59,175 views
Type: Articles Last Updated: August 23, 2005
Page: 2 of 2

CE-ATA connector has four data pins, and because of that is also called ”4x CE-ATA“ or ”4-bit CE-ATA“. At first engineers tried to use the same connector used by MMC cards, but one problem emerged: crosstalk.

Crosstalk is basically when a signal carried in one wire interferes or even corrupts the signal that is being transmitted in the wire adjacent to it. Physically speaking, this happens because when we have a data being transmitted over a wire, it generates a electromagnetic field around it, and a wire inside this field acts like an antenna, capturing the signal thus modifying the signal that was being originally transmitted in that particular wire.

This is also a very particular problem on CE-ATA drives because both CF+ and MMC standards were originally created to be used by memory cards. As you know, memory cards don’t use a flat-cable to be connected to the host device (card reader): you just plug in the card inside the reader and that’s it. On CE-ATA drives, however, the engineers decided to allow them to use a small flat-cable, allowing better accommodation for the hard drive inside the consumer electronics device. However, this flat-cable helps the antenna-factor problem.

In Figure 4, you can see data being transmitted from a CE-ATA drive to a CE device using the standard MMC connector. The crosstalk was of 375 mV, which is very high.

CE-ATA Crosstalk
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Crosstalk problem on CE-ATA using MMC connector.

The solution was to change the position of the signals on the connector. Instead of putting data signals side-by-side, engineers changed that approach and put a voltage or a ground signal between data signals, which are immune to the electromagnetic interference and work as a shield, solving the cross-talk issue.

CE-ATA Connector Pinout
click to enlarge
Figure 5: CE-ATA connector pinout compared to MMC connector pinout.

The result was a crosstalk of only 59.6 mV, as you can see in Figure 6. A crosstalk that low doesn’t interfere on the drive’s communication.

CE-ATA Crosstalk
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Signal transmission on CE-ATA using its final connector.

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