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Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2

This FAQ was compiled and written by John Wehman and Peter den Haan (v1.92)

This FAQ addresses issues surrounding Enhanced IDE, ATA-2, ATAPI and Enhanced BIOSes. It includes practical questions, background information and lists of net resources.

Part I: Disclaimers

-01.00. First off...
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 01.00. First off...

Part II: Introduction

-02.01. EIDE and Fast-ATA
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.01. EIDE and Fast-ATA
-02.02. IDE and ATA
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.02. IDE and ATA
-02.03. ATA-2
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.03. ATA-2
-02.04. ATA-3
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.04. ATA-3
-02.05. ATA Packet Interface
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.05. ATA Packet Interface
-02.06. Ultra-ATA
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.06. Ultra-ATA
-02.07. ATA-4
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.07. ATA-4
-02.08. The Enhanced BIOS
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.08. The Enhanced BIOS
-02.09. The secondary port and beyond
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 02.09. The secondary port and beyond

Part III: General questions

-03.01. What are the main features of EIDE and Fast-ATA?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 03.01. What are the main features of EIDE and Fast-ATA?
-03.02. What are the main features of Ultra-ATA?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 03.02. What are the main features of Ultra-ATA?
-03.03. Are those rumors about buggy interfaces true?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 03.03. Are those rumors about buggy interfaces true?
-03.04. What is a megabyte?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 03.04. What is a megabyte?

Part IV: Before buying

-04.01. What should I look for in an ATA-2 (Fast-ATA, EIDE) interface?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.01. What should I look for in an ATA-2 (Fast-ATA, EIDE) interface?
-04.02. Is my BIOS Enhanced? How can I recognize this?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.02. Is my BIOS Enhanced? How can I recognize this?
-04.03. Is my 50MHz VL bus system compatible with ATA-2 interfaces?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.03. Is my 50MHz VL bus system compatible with ATA-2 interfaces?
-04.04. Are old IDE drives compatible with EIDE and U-ATA interfaces?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.04. Are old IDE drives compatible with EIDE and U-ATA interfaces?
-04.05. Can I use EIDE and U-ATA drives with my old (E)IDE interface?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.05. Can I use EIDE and U-ATA drives with my old (E)IDE interface?
-04.06. Will an ATAPI (EIDE) CD-ROM work with an IDE interface?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.06. Will an ATAPI (EIDE) CD-ROM work with an IDE interface?
-04.07. Do I need a BIOS update to connect an ATAPI CD-ROM?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.07. Do I need a BIOS update to connect an ATAPI CD-ROM?
-04.08. Can large drives be used with my old BIOS?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.08. Can large drives be used with my old BIOS?
-04.09. I need an Enhanced BIOS to access >504MB. How do I get one?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.09. I need an Enhanced BIOS to access >504MB. How do I get one?
-04.10. Can I use a large harddisk with OSs other than DOS/Windows?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.10. Can I use a large harddisk with OSs other than DOS/Windows?
-04.11. I heard that Win95 provides support for large IDE disks.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.11. I heard that Win95 provides support for large IDE disks.
-04.12. Can I use more than 2 or 4 hard drives?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.12. Can I use more than 2 or 4 hard drives?
-04.13. Does support ATAPI (IDE) CD-ROMs?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.13. Does support ATAPI (IDE) CD-ROMs?
-04.14. I need a PCI ATA-2 interface that uses only one slot.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.14. I need a PCI ATA-2 interface that uses only one slot.
-04.15. Will adding an Ultra-ATA interface help my drives' performance?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 04.15. Will adding an Ultra-ATA interface help my drives' performance?

Part V: Installation

-05.01. Which drive/device should be Slave?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 05.01. Which drive/device should be Slave?
-05.02. Does it matter how I connect the devices to the cable?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 05.02. Does it matter how I connect the devices to the cable?
-05.03. Does an old HD or CDROM slow down a new drive?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 05.03. Does an old HD or CDROM slow down a new drive?
-05.04. I need a longer IDE cable; how long can I make it?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 05.04. I need a longer IDE cable; how long can I make it?
-05.05. Can I safely move my harddisk between computers?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 05.05. Can I safely move my harddisk between computers?

Part VI: Configuration

-06.01. Should I use my interface's device drivers?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.01. Should I use my interface's device drivers?
-06.02. What should I use: Normal, LBA or Large?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.02. What should I use: Normal, LBA or Large?
-06.03. Can I safely change the BIOS' xlation mode (None, LBA, Large)?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.03. Can I safely change the BIOS' xlation mode (None, LBA, Large)?
-06.04. Should I enable EIDE busmastering in my BIOS?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.04. Should I enable EIDE busmastering in my BIOS?
-06.05. FDISK sees only 504MB of my disk!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.05. FDISK sees only 504MB of my disk!
-06.06. FDISK will partition only 2GB.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.06. FDISK will partition only 2GB.
-06.07. I have no fancy EBIOS, but I have an 1GB partition and it works.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.07. I have no fancy EBIOS, but I have an 1GB partition and it works.
-06.08. I have software to break the 504MB barrier. Should I use it?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.08. I have software to break the 504MB barrier. Should I use it?
-06.09. Can I keep my Disk Manager/EZDrive partition with a new BIOS?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.09. Can I keep my Disk Manager/EZDrive partition with a new BIOS?
-06.10. I need to remove Disk Manager/EZDrive.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.10. I need to remove Disk Manager/EZDrive.
-06.11. I can enable write caching on my harddisk. Should I?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.11. I can enable write caching on my harddisk. Should I?
-06.12. My drive letters have changed!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 06.12. My drive letters have changed!

Part VII: Performance

-07.01. Why isn't my drive as fast as it's advertised to be?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 07.01. Why isn't my drive as fast as it's advertised to be?
-07.02. Why is my new EIDE, U-ATA interface no faster than my old one?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 07.02. Why is my new EIDE, U-ATA interface no faster than my old one?
-07.03. I benchmarked my drive and it's getting slower!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 07.03. I benchmarked my drive and it's getting slower!
-07.04. A guy on the net has the same drive and he gets 33MB/s!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 07.04. A guy on the net has the same drive and he gets 33MB/s!
-07.05. Busmastering drivers don't do much...
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 07.05. Busmastering drivers don't do much...

Part VIII: Troubleshooting

-08.01. Why do I get NO ROM BASIC, SYSTEM HALTED?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.01. Why do I get NO ROM BASIC, SYSTEM HALTED?
-08.02. I have problems with my Award 4.50G BIOS and large drives.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.02. I have problems with my Award 4.50G BIOS and large drives.
-08.03. My 2GB+ drive is not recognized or crashes.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.03. My 2GB+ drive is not recognized or crashes.
-08.04. My 4GB+ drive has problems in MSDOS 6.22 or below.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.04. My 4GB+ drive has problems in MSDOS 6.22 or below.
-08.05. Help! I have OnTrack Disk Manager installed and now...
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.05. Help! I have OnTrack Disk Manager installed and now...
-08.06. My mode 3-4-5-6 drive has data corruption problems.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.06. My mode 3-4-5-6 drive has data corruption problems.
-08.07. Are there supposed to be bad sectors on the drive?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.07. Are there supposed to be bad sectors on the drive?
-08.08. I keep getting CRC errors and serial overruns.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.08. I keep getting CRC errors and serial overruns.
-08.09. Can my drive do 32-bit access?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.09. Can my drive do 32-bit access?
-08.10. Help! Windows 3.x 32-bit disk access doesn't work anymore!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.10. Help! Windows 3.x 32-bit disk access doesn't work anymore!
-08.11. Help! Windows for Workgroups' 32-bit file access fails!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.11. Help! Windows for Workgroups' 32-bit file access fails!
-08.12. Help! Win95 indicates my drive uses compatibility mode!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.12. Help! Win95 indicates my drive uses compatibility mode!
-08.13. My partitions become a mess in MS-DOS mode.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.13. My partitions become a mess in MS-DOS mode.
-08.14. Win95 sees my partitions, but DOS doesn't.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.14. Win95 sees my partitions, but DOS doesn't.
-08.15. Win95 keeps losing my second IDE channel!
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.15. Win95 keeps losing my second IDE channel!
-08.16. The Win95 busmastering drivers won't work.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.16. The Win95 busmastering drivers won't work.
-08.17. My ATAPI (IDE) CD-ROM driver won't recognize the CD-ROM.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 08.17. My ATAPI (IDE) CD-ROM driver won't recognize the CD-ROM.

Part IX: The user's net.resource guide

-09.01. The user's net.resource guide: I/O card drivers
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 09.01. The user's net.resource guide: I/O card drivers
-09.02. The user's net.resource guide: hardware manufacturers
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 09.02. The user's net.resource guide: hardware manufacturers
-09.03. The user's net.resource guide: software and BIOS houses
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 09.03. The user's net.resource guide: software and BIOS houses

Part X: ATA: harddisks

-10.01. How does ATA(-2) work?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.01. How does ATA(-2) work?
-10.02. What are PIO modes?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.02. What are PIO modes?
-10.03. What are DMA modes?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.03. What are DMA modes?
-10.04. How are the ATA(-2,PI) I/O ports assigned?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.04. How are the ATA(-2,PI) I/O ports assigned?
-10.05. What does an ATA-2 interface do?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.05. What does an ATA-2 interface do?
-10.06. What is Block mode?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.06. What is Block mode?
-10.07. What is LBA?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.07. What is LBA?
-10.08. How does security work?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.08. How does security work?
-10.09. What is S.M.A.R.T.?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.09. What is S.M.A.R.T.?
-10.10. What is PRML?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.10. What is PRML?
-10.11. What are MR heads?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 10.11. What are MR heads?

Part XI: ATAPI: CD-ROMs and tapes

-11.01. How does ATAPI differ from, and coexist with, ATA(-2)?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 11.01. How does ATAPI differ from, and coexist with, ATA(-2)?
-11.02. What's so special about the secondary port?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 11.02. What's so special about the secondary port?

Part XII: The EBIOS: translation

-12.01. Why translation?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 12.01. Why translation?
-12.02. How does translation work?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 12.02. How does translation work?
-12.03. I'd like to know how translation works in detail.
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 12.03. I'd like to know how translation works in detail.
-12.04. What is in the Enhanced Disk Parameter Table?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 12.04. What is in the Enhanced Disk Parameter Table?
-12.05. How many types of translating/Enhanced BIOSes are there?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 12.05. How many types of translating/Enhanced BIOSes are there?

Part XIII: Software details

-13.01. Details on OnTrack Disk Manager
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 13.01. Details on OnTrack Disk Manager
-13.02. How does Windows' 32-bit disk access work?
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 13.02. How does Windows' 32-bit disk access work?

Part XIV: Hacker's resource guides

-14.01. The hacker's documentation guide
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 14.01. The hacker's documentation guide
-14.02. The hacker's net.resource guide
Enhanced IDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2 FAQ: 14.02. The hacker's net.resource guide

Copyright notice:

This document is copyright (c) John Wehman and Peter den Haan. You are free to distribute it by electronic means and make as many copies as you want on electronic or magnetic media, convert it to a different format, and embed control sequences, as long as the text of this document remains unmodified, with copyright notices intact. Splitting up this document is allowed on the condition that the resultant parts are presented as a recognizable whole that makes up the full, unmodified text. You are allowed to make paper copies of this document for personal use; however, distribution of printed copies for profit is prohibited without the authors' prior permission.










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