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How to Install a Hard Drive (Page 3/6)

Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Posted: November 20, 1999

ATA/33 & ATA/66

Those are some funny acronyms, aren't they? And no, I'm not going to bore you with their exact definition - all I'm going to tell you is that they are fast - and fast is good. The number after the slash refers to a hard drive's burst rate, or rate of peak data transmission per clock cycle. This burst rate is measured in Mb's, so an ATA/33 enabled drive has a burst rate of 33 Mbps while an ATA/66 enabled drive has a burst rate of 66 Mbps.

ATA/33 has been around for a long time now (well, a long time in the computer world). Just about any computer you buy supports it, so using it isn't really a conscious decision. It only requires a standard IDE cable, so as long as your computer is using IDE, you're in the clear. ATA/66, however, is something of an emerging standard. Many hard drives are starting to use this feature, but as of right now almost no motherboards (short of the ones using Via's new 133 MHz chipset) do (there are also a few PCI ATA/66 cards out that will handle the job, if you want to spend the extra cash).

If you are lucky enough to have the option, you should have been supplied with an ATA/66 compatible cable with the motherboard (you can tell because the lines on the ribbon are narrower than usual). Then find the special ATA/66 enabled IDE port and connect the hard drive to that port using the special IDE cable. Your access speeds should be much higher after this operation. Note: depending on your setup, you may need to enable ATA/66 in your BIOS.

IDE Channels and the Master/Slave Thing

"Igor," Dr. Frankenstein said to his 'assistant,' "prepare the hard drive for the operation."
"Yes, master," Igor hesitantly replied.

I know that was corny, but that is basically the way that the master/slave relationship of the IDE channel works. The 'master', or drive at the end of the chain, has control over the entire chain, while the slave, or the drive connected to the interim connector on the chain, has to wait for the master to give it access to the data stream. Here's the basic skinny on slave drives, avoid them if at all possible. The only kind of drive you would want in the slave position would be an old backup drive. And by no means should your swap file EVER be on a slave drive.

With most basic computer setups, the CD-ROM drive is going to take up one IDE channel. Depending on your motherboard, you will have a varying number of IDE channels (2 is standard, but 3 and 4 are becoming more common). So, if at all possible, put your hardware as the master of it's own IDE channel, and save the slave spot for your old 1.2 gig backup.

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