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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Interfaces and Configuration | Integrated Drive Electronics / AT Attachment (IDE/ATA) Interface ]

IDE/ATA Configuration and Cabling

In most respects, IDE/ATA devices are relatively easy to install and configure, especially if you are only using one, or maybe two. However--you knew it was coming--the issues get more involved when many devices are to be used, when older drives are being configured, when mixing hard disks and ATAPI devices like CD-ROMs, or when using advanced transfer protocols like bus mastering DMA. The rise to prominence of Ultra DMA in the last few years has also made configuration and cabling just a bit much more complex, particularly with the introduction of a new 80-conductor IDE/ATA interface cable.

This section discusses issues relating to how IDE/ATA devices are set up and configured. This includes a complete look at how IDE/ATA hard disks are set up and configured, a discussion of IDE/ATA channels and resources, descriptions of the interface signals and cables used, and a look at software driver issues. I discuss various issues and options related to configuring multiple devices; choosing a better IDE/ATA hard disk configuration can result in performance improvements for the system, something that many people don't realize. I also talk a bit about notebook hard disks.

For specific instructions on configuring IDE/ATA devices, check out this procedure; for directions on physically installing the drive, this one; and for instructions on connecting the drive to the motherboard, this one.

Next: IDE/ATA Controllers

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