SATA Cables (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) are used for connecting a hard drive or CD drive to the motherboard. This cable is quickly replacing the older and more common IDE Ribbon Cable (PATA). Not only is the Serial ATA cable easier to use then the IDE Ribbon cable because of its small width but it transfers data faster then the older IDE Ribbon cables.
The transfer data rate of Serial ATA cables started at 1.5Gbits but the more recent cables transfer 3.0Gbits and probably up to 6.0Gbits in the recent future.
It is common to have both SATA and IDE connectors on the motherboard but gradually IDE will disappear from the motherboard all together.
SATA Power Cable
Along with the introduction of the Serial ATA cable came the SATA power cable. The SATA Power Cable is a 15-pin cable that connects from the power supply to the hard drive or CD/DVD drive. The newer power supplies come with SATA power cables but if not it is possible to buy an adapter to turn Molex power cables (the older more common power cables) into a SATA power cable.