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IDE/ATA Disk BIOS Settings
Since the system BIOS on virtually every PC provides native support for IDE/ATA hard disks, there are a number of parameters that can be set to tell the BIOS what hard disks are in the system, and how to control them. Each hard disk in the system will have its own settings, so there is one set for the primary master, one for the primary slave, and so on. This normally applies only to IDE/ATA hard disks; SCSI hard disks are configured through their host adapter and built-in SCSI BIOS.
Most modern BIOSes support hard disk autodetection, which allows the BIOS to interrogate each hard disk to determine its logical geometry, supported transfer modes and other information. This can be done either at setup time or dynamically each time the machine is booted, depending on the BIOS. This is described in detail here.
Dynamic autodetection is the standard way of setting up modern drives, especially since drives over 8 GB in size cannot be described using traditional IDE/ATA BIOS geometry parameters. In some situations, especially with older PCs, you may still set some drive parameters manually. The following are the settings normally found in the BIOS setup program for configuring IDE/ATA hard disks. Since these are described in full detail in the BIOS chapter, I include only a very brief description of each here. Note that on modern systems some of the oldest compatibility settings may not even be present any more:
Next: Hard Disk Size Barriers