- The size: I need more, more...

- Very well, nice...: and bargain sale?

- Interface IDE

- Who needs SCSI?

- To turn and to rotate, everything is to start...

- UltraDMA/66

- Do not be ancient: be updated!

- Conclusion

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Juan Herrerías Rey


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Hardware for the summer - autumn 1999



Let's not forget this new technology, which begins appearing already of cryptic form in any computers announcements. Firstly, let's remember that the ways DMA allude to a way of access to the hard disks IDE that it liberates to the microprocessor of big part of the work of the transference of information, of form similar to what SCSI does.

Of many ways DMA, the only one that has had wide success has been the current standard on hard disks IDE, the UltraDMA/33 (also called DMA/33, UltraATA/33 or 2 Ultraties Way). It allows a valuation of theoretical transference of information of 33,3 MB/s, what does not mean that the disc reaches 33,3 MB/s, but if it was reaching them they would "fit" for the bus.

At present no disc comes to this 33,3 MB/s, but the new discs rpm can come to 7.200 to rub lightly this level, what has motivated the appearance of the new way UltraDMA/66, or There ultraties Way 4 (the Way 3 would be to 44 MB/s). The differences with the UltraDMA/33 are only two: it allows to reach up to 66,6 MB/s and uses a special cable.

Cable classic IDE (left) and cable IDE for UltraDMA (right) - Source: Digital western

The need to change the type of cable is a direct consequence of the high speeds that might be reached, something for which the cables IDE were not by no means thought-out. The new cables (that turn out to be essential to preserve the integrity of the information) have 80 drivers, although they preserve the same type of connector of 40 pines because of compatibility.

On this aspect of the compatibility "backwards", the hard disks UltraDMA/66 are a 100 % compatible with the previous ways of access; for example, they can work perfectly in way UltraDMA/33, only that there will not be able to overcome 33,3 MB/s (something that very probably they are not also capable of managing).

The manufacturers are extracting models of hard disks UltraDMA/66 to forced marches, what is not strange; the advance turns out to be easy to apply to the hard disks in themselves, the most complicated thing is in the checker and the cable. What is more, enough of the hard disks UltraDMA/66 that we will see will work to 5.400 rpm, what it makes completely impossible that make use of the breadth of extra bus, likewise for much that circulates along a freeway of 8 rails, a Seat 600 cannot reach 200 Km / h

A hard disk UltraDMA/66 should be at least 7.200 rpm, and nevertheless the yield difference will be very hardly valuable, although in return the price difference will be practically void, up to the point of that in a little time all the discs will be UltraDMA/66.

As for the requisites to use this technology, they are:

  1. That the hard disk is UltraDMA/66, of course.
  2. That the cable is 40 pines with 80 drivers instead of 40 pines with 40 drivers; fortunately, this requisite is simple to expire and a bargain sale.
  3. That the operating system has support for DMA; Windows 98 and the last versions of 95 and NT have it.
  4. That the checker IDE supports UltraDMA/66, which is the factor more limitante, but it has solution.

After there are the checkers IDE integrated to the basic badges, inside the chipset, any current motherboard with chipset Intel supports UltraDMA/66, not even the BX. None with chipset Intel, because the Route with the last review of the chipset Apollo Pro yes they do it. In case of Intel, only the newly released one chipset i810 (a chipset for the scale average - fall) and the future i820 I Walk, delayed multiple times for diverse problems, they will support this technology.

While these chipsets appear, diverse manufacturers (like for example Promise or ABIT) have remembered how cards were made hard disks checkers and offer these devices. There are cards in format PCI, with Plug and Play (quite simple to install) and relatively cheap, that offer support for 4 devices UltraDMA/66, what does a whole of 8 devices IDE, something even more interesting than the technology UltraDMA/66 in itself since he avoids to have to mix slow devices (CD-ROMs, Zip, tape recorders) with rapids (hard disks, Jaz, magneto-optic).

Do not be ancient: be updated!

Undoubtedly, the hard disks are a key piece at the time of updating the computer, especially seeing the requisites of some of the last games: 150 MB, 300 MB, 450 MB... Fortunately, the hard disks are relatively cheap (considering his size, skylight) and very easy to install, whenever a series of details is born in mind:

  1. Know how many devices IDE his computer admits. If it is 486 to 66 MHz or Superior, it is very probable that it allows up to four, although it is possible that he needs to acquire the second cable IDE.
  2. Never mix slow devices (his CD - ROM) with rapids in the same channel IDE (= the same cable), unless he has not left another remedy.
  3. If it is possible, there installs the most rapid hard disk as device 1 (master's degree of the first channel or disc C). It will be something more laborious since very probably it will force him to reinstall programs, but it is worth it usually.
  4. Know what is the maximum capacity of disc that his BIOS admits. Many badges BIOS Pentium and most of the BIOS 486 have problems with major discs of 8 GB. Even some BIOS 486 has problems with smaller discs, but in such a case probably be worth updating the whole computer.
    The solution? If it is possible, to update the BIOS (if a BIOS is a Flash and an update exists); it is something certainly dangerously if one harms, or inoffensively if it is right. If not, there is satisfied with 6 or 8 GB, which is not small.
  5. Do not forget to form the discs as master's degree or slave, according to his position.
  6. Bear in mind that if it uses TWO or the first version of Windows 95, he will need to do several divisions (each of 2 GB or less) to be able to use the disc.
And first of all, know what it does; consult the
Topics Related for more information on the update, read the instructions of the disc and if it does not clear up, do that they install it to themselves (and I never paid any more than 5.000 pts for it).


Very well, the hard disks market has given more of speaking about what I was thinking; I hope not to have bored very much nobody. The first good news is that the hard disks are cheaper and cheaper and bigger, although it seems clear that the manufacturers are not ready to lower of the level of 18.000-20.000 pts, what is understandable. The truth is that with hard disks "of mark" of 10 GB for approximately 30.000 pts, we cannot complain.

The second good news is that IDE is every time better, approaching or overcoming SCSI if the disc is used for a use ofimático or domestic, especially with the units of 7.200 rpm (that are not the panacea, but in general they are perceptibly more rapid).

As for UltraDMA/66, it must not take the sleep from anybody: his advantage opposite to UltraDMA/33 is small or void, and it will keep on being like that during a considerable time, unless the discs of 7.200 rpm improve moreover or the "wild animals" of 10.000 rpm land in the format IDE. When his moment comes, the whole world will have a disc UltraDMA/66 in the computer, but debit turns more like a logical evolution of the standard than like an authentic revolution.

And like SCSI, for much that is said, it will always keep on being the Professional option for servants and workstations of high scale. UltraDMA/66 and 7.200 rpm? SCSI is already in 80 MB/s and 10.000 rpm, and that because it is necessary to promote the investments in I+D, that if not...


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