What is IDE? Do you have any idea about this term? This article introduces some information about IDE, like its development process, merits and demerits.

IDE is short for Integrated Drive Electronics. It intends to refer to the hard drive which integrates controller with disk body. The IDE we usually mention means an interface technology of devices, such as hard disk.

Name: IDE

Full Name: Integrated Drive Electronics

Category: interface technology

1. Introduction

IDE is also called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) interface. At present, most hard disks used by PC ( Personal Computer ) are compatible with IDE by using a 40-wire cable to connect the hard disks with motherboard or interface card. The action of integrating disk body with controller reduces the number as well as length of cable of the hard disk interface. And by doing so, the transmission reliability is enhanced and it becomes easier to produce the hard disk, because hard disk manufacturers don’t need to be worried if the hard disk is compatible with the controller produced by other manufacturers or not. And it is also more convenient for users to install the hard disk.

2. Development Process

There were two types of transmission modes of early IDE interface. One is PIO ( Programming I/O ) mode, and the other is DMA ( Direct Memory Access ) mode. Even though DMA mode takes up less system resources, it needs additional drive program or device. So it is less acceptable.

Later, under a circumstance of rising demand for speed, operating systems begin to support DMA mode due to its better executing efficiency, and manufacturers release a new standard for DMA mode with an increasingly faster transmission speed. Ultra DMA 33 is supported by chipset starting from Intel 430TX chipset, which offers up to 33MB/sec data transmission rate.

Soon the standard of data transmission rate of ATA 66, ATA 100 and ATA 133 proposed by Maxtor is respectively 66MB/sec, 100MB/sec and at most 133MB/sec. It is worth noting that the ATA 133 standard doesn’t gain widely support from the industry. Among hard disk manufacturers, only Maxtor adopts ATA 133 standard while Hitachi ( IBM ), Seagate and West digital all use ATA 100 standard. Among chipset manufacturers, just VIA, SIS, Ali and nViidia support ATA 133 standard, and Intel supports ATA 100 standard only.

3. Entry-level Server

Currently, IDE interface is used in a large part of low-level entry servers. The benefit of doing so is low cost and it’s a good choice for the environment which is not so demanding for performance. However, servers using IDE interface have serious defects, including bottleneck of speed, not hot swappable and hard to realize the stability of data protection. Even though many server manufacturers release IDE-based RAID ( Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks, a way to protect the reliability of data on the hard drive ), which is only limited to small-flow data, it is powerless for sudden large flow data. Considering this situation, the current servers mainly use SCSI  interfaces which are stable and fast in transmitting.

4. Notes

All kinds of IDE standards have a good backward compatibility. What we need to notice is that as for IDE interface transmission standard of ATA 66 or higher versions, it must use special 80-core IDE cable for it can enhance the signal stability due to its 40 core more than normal cable. IDE represents a type of hard disk. While in actual use, IDE is used to refer to the earliest hard disk of IDE type – ATA-1. However, this type of interface has been eliminated with the advancement of interface technology and then more types of hard disk interface have been developed. For example, ATA, Ultra ATA, DMA and Ultra DMA interfaces belong to IDE hard disk. At present, hardware interface has been transferred to SATA, and IDE will leave the stage sooner or later.

Tip: No matter which mode your hard disk adopts, if you have a need to manage your disk, MiniTool Partition Wizard can do this. 

5. Merits and Demerits

Merits of IDE interface: cheap cost, good compatibility and cost-effective.

Demerits of IDE interface: low data transmission speed, short cable length and less connected devices.

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