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Best arrangement of 3 IDE channels

Posted on 2004-03-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
My desktop is set up as follows:

PIII-800 Gateway
20 GB drive - master, primary IDE channel on the motherboard; contains system files
6 GB drive - slave, primary IDE channel on the motherboard; contains MP3s
CD-ROM drive - master, secondary IDE channel on the motherboard
40 GB drive - master, primary IDE channel on separate PCI IDE card (which in turn is partitioned into two parts, smaller one for swap files and doc backups and the bigger one for other data such as movies)

I actually wanted to connect the 40 GB drive to the secondary IDE channel on the motherboard, but that would have made it *really* difficult to connect the CD-ROM drive to the PCI IDE card because the cable was not long enough that would interfere with my plan to perhaps add an old drive or another CD-ROM drive to the secondary IDE channel.

Basically, I chose this rather weird/complex arrangement because I wanted to optimize the hard drive access time - I read that it is best to place most-frequently accessed drives in separate channels.

The problem is, it takes the computer longer than I anticipated in getting to the file, especially those in the 40 GB hard drive connected through the PCI IDE card.  For example, if I am using Word (files accessible through primary motherboard channel) and all of a sudden decide that I want to listen to some MP3s I created previous day that are saved in that 40 GB hard drive, it takes some time to the point where I actually see the hourglass - which didn't happen when I didn't have this arrangement.

To summarize, I'm looking for the best way to match the hard drives/CD-ROM with the IDE channels.  My instinct tells me that I should switch the 40 GB from the PCI IDE card to the secondary channel on the motherboard.  How wrong am I?  Is there a way to optimize through software, and if so, where could I find them?

Thanks in advanced to everyone who reviewed my weird problem.
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Question by:expert_wannabe
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buckeyes33 earned 35 total points
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Why don't you set your 40 GB drive that is not system files up as slave to the CD-ROM?  The IDE controller card will not be as fast as your IDE channel.  This is because your PCI slot limits the speed of data transfer.  WHen you try to use large files you see this speed decrease by the delay that you get.


  You don't want to put your CD-ROM on your PCI card as PCI controller cards and CD-ROMs some times don't get along very good.


>> Is there a way to optimize through software, and if so, where could I find them?
not that I know of.


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by:rid
rid earned 33 total points
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Just a general opinion: keep it as simple as possible. An add-on IDE controller hogs hardware resources and the simplest solution must be to get a suitable IDE cable and use the on-board IDE controllers, removing the 3rd controller altogether. Modern controllers don't lock to slowest device speed.
/RID
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by:elinzon
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Hi!
In my opinion when you connect HD or any other devise through the PCI IDE card, the latency is increased. Since it's has to go from HD controller to PCI card controller to chipset (there are might be other controllers on the way). Also PCI have to share bus with other PCI cards. Only one can use a bus at a time. All this slows it down.

It might be also the problem with PCI IDE card itself. I would go to the card manufacture site and check for BIOS flash update. Usually they have one, and flash IDE card. Also check for BIOS update for your PC and update it too. It should solve 85% of your hardware problems.

I believe that as less you load you machine as better it runs. So if you can get read of PCI IDE card do so.

The golden rule to connect HD and CDROMS is not to put two devices that frequently used at the same time on the same IDE channel. For ex, if you have CDRW and CDROM and you frequently make a CD copies, it's bad idea to put them on the same channel. Since CPU will need to read the data from CD, then send the read data to CDRW and so on. If they on the same channel, they will have to wait for one another (only one device can send/receive data at a time). If they are on separate channels, they can work almost simultaneously.

Any way flash the BIOS, it's the way to start. Be careful, though, you have the right one, and there is no power interrupt in the time of flashing, otherwise you system is gone :(

And the last thing, CDROMs, CDRWs and so on are always slaves, HD are always masters.

And don't forget that CDROMs have low data transfer rate that HDs.

Hope it was helpful. If you have more questions, please ask.
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by:elinzon
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One more thing, defragment you HD, it helps too :)
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_ earned 33 total points
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>>> CDROMs, CDRWs and so on are always slaves, HD are always masters <<<   Not really. On the Primary Channel this is preferred, but I have had no problems running CD/CDRW as Master and HD as Slave on the Secondary Channel.
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by:elinzon
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coral47
Ok, right, as rule of thumb, the CDROMs are slave and HD are masters. And the reason for that is HD usually have high data transfer then CDROMs. So they are better to coop with controlling the slave and doing they operations. But of course it's going case by case.
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: )    Well said.
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by:rid
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The drives don't control each other. The master and slave words are not related to how they interact. The IDE controller, however, must have a means of talking to each one as required, by using a signal line in the cable. The jumper setting on the drive tells the drive to wake up to the appropriate signal from the controller.
/RID
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by:xema
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One point that seems to be forgotten;  any IDE chanel will work at the speed of the slowest device pluged to it.  So normally avoid putting a CD, CDRW, DVD on the same chanel as a HD, with two HD's a CDROM and a DVD CDW combo I'll put both HD's on the same chanel and the CD's on the other.
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by:rid
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Are you sure it is still like that, even with modern IDE controllers? I've been led to understand that is no longer the case. A HD could share a channel and wotk at its normal speed even if there's a CD unit on the same channel. Of course, transfers between devices will ALWAYS be at the speed of the slower device.
/RID
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by:xema
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As far as I know it's still true.  You may chek it by plugging a slower device and cheching the BIOS report during Boot up, I've plugged an ATA 100 as an slave to an ATA 133 and during Boot up the BIOS will change it's report from UMDA 6 to UMDA 5
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I just plugged an ata33 CDROM ( umda2 ) as slave to a ata66 ( umda4 ) HD on the primary channel and the BIOS still says umda4 for the HD.
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by:kcimino
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try a 80b condoctor cable for both harddrives
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PAQ/No Refund    Some good info in here.
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by:buckeyes33
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Since this is somewhat of an opinion question, I think that a points split would be recommended here.
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by:_
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Thank you much.    : )
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