Serial ATA is the newer interface for optical and hard drives. Virtually all new computers made in the last 4-5years or so will have at least two SATA ports on the motherboard. SATA uses a different data cable than the older style PATA/IDE drives, and uses a different power cable. There are adapters available to connect a SATA drive to a regular molex power cable.
To use a SATA drive you must either have a built in SATA controller on the motherboard, or a plug in card for pci or pcie slots with a SATA controller on it.
Many of the early SATA controllers built into the motherboard did not work well with SATA optical drives. They seemed to be optimized for hard drives.
If you tell us the make and model computer you have, we can tell you whether or not you can use a SATA drive. Or if your computer is home-built, tell us the make and model motherboard you are using.
You can find a lot of information about SATA/PATA at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sata