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  1. Agustin's Linux Manual
  2. Multimedia & Hardware Installation
  3. About the Author
  4. Contents
  5. Multimedia
  6. Default Audio Setting
  7. Audio Application
  8. The Play Directory
  9. The Equalizer
  10. Options Sub-menu
  11. Movies & DVDs
  12. Starting Xine
  13. Video Conferencing
  14. GnomeMeeting's Main Window
  15. The Desktop
  16. Office
  17. Networking
  18. Multimedia Submenu
  19. Web Browsers
  20. Installing New Hardware
  21. Loading Modules for Hardware
  22. Introduction to IDEs
  23. Tweaking the Hard Drive
  24. Setting (U) DMA
  25. Installing a CD/RW
  26. Floppy Disk, Zip Drives
  27. Installing USB Devices
  28. Fire wire IEEE 1394
  29. Using the CD-Writer

Introduction to IDEs

I hate to go through history, but I strongly believe that I should review Ide's so new users can have a basic understanding of why we have big hard drives and related devices that connect to the IDE channel.

First of all, IDE stands for (Integrated Device Electronics) and was introduced in 1986 and originally known as ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). Since then it has gone through several changes.

When ATA was introduced, many were proprietary, meaning made by a particular company; so if you wanted to buy a hard drive you also had to by the controller for it from the same company. Due to limitations arising from the combination of the BIOS and the ATA controller, the maximum size per drive was restricted to 504 MB, of course DOS FAT 16. In 1990 the industry came up with a standard and introduces ATA-2 with enhancements eliminating the 504MB barrier.

In 1994, Western Digital launched the EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics) featured with PIO (Programmed Input Output), DMA and LBA (Direct Memory Access & Large Block Addressing) allowing us to install 2.0 GB hard drives. Thanks to the new technology, EIDE allowed other variants to introduce secondary channels, Bios translation, and the ATAPI protocol for removable devices.

The industry opted marketing in new implementations, rather than going by the standard and introduced Fast ľATA supporting LBA, PIO 3, DMA mode 1, Fast ATA2 and Fast ATA-3 with PIO mode 4, DMA mode 2 transfers (ecc-error correction code).

ATA-4 was implemented to introduce the well-known Ultra DMA/33 to correct some non-compliance (incompatibility) issues. Another enhancement was introduced (Ultra DMA mode 4 UDMA/66) to allow higher transfer (speed). Concerning speed and size UDM5, 6 Ultra DMA/100 and Ultra DMA/133 are now available which allows us to install bigger hard drives (160.0 GB), etc.


These are UDMA mode 2 (UDMA/33), example of supported hardware is PCI cards Promise Ultra 33.


These are mode 4 (UDMA/66), some build in chipsets on motherboards, and controllers.


Ultra DMA 5 supported under Mandrake 7.2 +, shipped in Promise UDMA 100 chipsets, 40 pin IDE Cable.


Ultra DMA mode 6 uses 80-pin cable, enhanced use of power management.

Even though bigger and faster hard drives are available, many users don't know how to take advantage of it. First of all users just go out and buy a big hard drive without realizing how old their computers are. If you are with me; you know what I am saying. I mean you don't become a technician overnight or go to school and pass a test. Real technicians are practical, they're logical, they think. Installing a hard drive is not just tightening some screws or replacing some jumpers.

No, a computer technician must know what is required to install a hard drive in a system. Will the system support it? How fast or how slow will it be in that system? Is it worth being installed in that system? Depending on the system, a separate controller may be required to take advantage of the hard drive's features. These are all the questions that you need to consider when installing hard drives.