Integrated Drive


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IDE Isn't Dead, Yet ...

IDE has had a long run but it is time to go to SATA?

IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) was introduced in the early 1990's, the first computer I worked on with an Integrated Drive Electronics hard drive was an IBM PS/2.

Integrated Drive Electronics brought the large hard drive to life, before Integrated Drive Electronics hard drives with the capacity of more than 30 Meg (MEG) were very large, bulky, and unreliable.

Integrated Drive Electronics changed all of that, drives became smaller and the capacity started to go higher and higher. At one time you could price an Integrated Drive Electronics hard drive by it's capacity at all most a dollar per Meg. If you wanted a 60 Mega Byte hard drive it would have cost you about $60.

As the capacity grew so did the Operating Systems that were used, from DOS to Windows 3 and Windows NT to Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.5 and now to Windows 8 / 10 and Windows Server 2008 / 2019.

One of the main changes with hard drives that forced the Operating Systems to change was the capacity.

DOS a 16 bit Operating System could only recognize 30 Megabytes. If you had a drive that was larger than 30 MB you had to split it up in to smaller sizes or DOS could not use the space.

That was ok because at the time programs and support files were very small (in relation to programs and support files of today) it took a long time fill up a 30 MB drive.

When Window 3 was released it came on 25 1.44 Meg floppies, installed on a computer the used drive space was around 25 MB (with all the fonts and printers installed) of used space. (Considering OS/2 and Windows NT 3 came on 90 floppies and installed it was just over 70 MB, so larger drives were needed, of course these Operating Systems were 32 bit and could see more that DOS or Windows 3 because of the 16 bit 30 MB barrier).

The older hard drives (RLL and MFM format) just couldn't handle a hard drive of over 40 MB.

When Windows 95 was introduced it has a enhanced 'memory manager' and an enhanced 'file management' system that could recognize  more than 30 MB of drive space, it was a work around, in reality it was a kludge - a lot people lost a lot of files with Windows 95. (Made my job harder but more secure in away).

Windows 98 had a better solution but it was not the fix we needed, we needed a 32 bit file manager that could recognize more than 30 MB and not be a kludge.

We get the solution with Windows NT 3.5 a real 32 bit operating system that can see up to 3.5 GB of memory and access a hard drive of up to 4 Tetra Bytes!

So we get a new toys - IDE and Windows NT! Cool.

This brings me to the point of is IDE dead?

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The last two hard drives I bought (for my Server upgrade) were SATA III 1 Tetra Byte capacity. I also bought a new DVD RW drive that was SATA III.

I was looking at the DVD's and only found two that were IDE and those were from companies I haven't had any experience with their hardware.

Having been burnt once on a SSD from an unknown company I wasn't going to pay for something that would last three to six months then die on me.

When I was looking at the hard drives I also noticed the higher capacity drives were all SATA II and III drives.

Western Digital, Seagate, and Maxtor have IDE drives but the highest capacity I found was 500 GB, although they were cheaper than the SATA drives I would have to by four 500 GB drives to get to my goal of a 1 TB drive with a 1 TB drive as mirror.

This is achievable with RAID 1 but combining two drives to make the one large drive would have been inefficient, a RAID 5 with four 500 GB drives would have gave me 1.5 TB of drive space, but the power consumption of four IDE drives vs. two SATA drives was the deciding factor.

04/09/15 - Looking at one of my favorite hardware web sites ( they do not have any of these drives for sale.

However the web site does list three, all smaller capacity from 100 GB to 250 GB, you would think this is new technology... the prices are very high - about $1.50 per GB!

If you do a specific search on the size of the drive you need such as a 100 GB or 250 GB you may find one, however I would caution you to insure that the drive you are going to buy if used that the seller has a guarantee that the drive is operational. I did find two manufactures of new Integrated Drive Electronics drives on the web, not needing a new drive I did not buy one for testing because the cost is high, to high for me to buy just to test the quality.

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So I would say IDE isn't dead yet but it does have one foot over the cliff...

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