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The IDE Interface

What is IDE?

IDE stands for Integrated Device Electronics; it is an interface for connecting devices to a computer. It is a parallel interface, in that it transfers data one byte at a time (-cf: SATA) hence data transfer rates are quoted in "bytes per second" (-rather than "bits per second"). SATA is replacing IDE as the standard interface for most devices now, confining IDE mainly to the upgrade market, rather than new builds.


Identifying IDE Cables

There are two types of IDE cable (-both having female connectors):

  • The IDE Data Cable: this a flat ribbon cable with three 40-pin connectors on it:

    • Blue or White: connects to the motherboard
    • Black: connects to the Master device (-normally the fastest)
    • Grey: connects to the Slave device (-normally the slowest)
  • The IDE Power Cable: normally called molex connectors, these are four pin connectors, fed by four wires of different colours

The photo below shows an IDE data cable, with it's three connectors on the right and the four pin (female) Molex power connector on the left:

Example of an IDE data cable

Note: the data connectors using a missing pin hole (-visible in the photo above) in the centre of the connector to prevent the cable being connected the wrong way round


Identifying IDE Ports on the Motherboard

IDE connectors on a motherboard are male connectors, often they are coloured Blue or White to match the motherboard connector on the IDE cable. An example (-in white) is shown below; the missing pin (-to match the IDE cable) is clearly visible:

Example of an IDE motherboard port


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