I need to connect a SATA device to a development board which does not have a dedicated SATA connector but exposes SATA over a common 2x30 female header instead. My question is what cabling do I need for short length (say 15 cm)? Do I need to bother with cable shielding or is it possible to run SATA reliably over unshielded cable? The setup will operate in a passenger vehicle. The board I use is a phyBOARD-Mira i.MX6.
SATA employs differential-signalling, which in and of itself, makes it fairly robust in terms of noise immunity. However, the serial data rate is quite high, which may limit exactly which cabling types may work. Over short distances (15cm) even a ribbon cable would likely work, but attention to wiring order may be important. (Note how the SATA cable is wired - differential signals run next to each other, and are separated by ground wires.)
The biggest problem with a high speed digital interface is not so much shielding but impedance mismatches. You really want to minimise the length of any section with incorrect characterstic impedance.
In your situation I would suggest building an adaptor using wires that are as short as possible and then using a standard SATA cable to connect between your adaptor and the drive.