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Hard disk drive

The hard disk drive is the primary storage location where data is
permanently stored. Below is an illustration of what the inside of
the hard disk drive may look like. The four main components of a
hard disk drive are the platters, head arm, chassis, and the head

The majorities of computer hard disk drives are permanently

stored in an internal drive bay at the front of the computer and are
connected with one ATA / SCSI cable and power cable. Unlike other
drives, the hard disk drive is the only drive that is not physically
accessed by the user like the floppy disk drive or the CD-ROM

Size information
The capacity of computer hard disk drives and the files it contains can be confusing. Below is a listing of the
standards in different size values. It is important to realize that not all manufacturers and developers use these
values. For example, a manufacturer may consider a gigabyte as the value of a gibibyte.

Bit Value of 0 or 1
Nibble 4 Bits
Byte 8 Bits
Kilobit 1,000 bits
Kilobyte 1,000 bytes
Kibibit 1,024 bits
Kibibyte 1,024 bytes
Mebibit 1,048,576 bits
Mebibyte 1,048,576 bytes
Megabit 1,000,000 bits
Megabyte 1,000,000 bytes
Gibibit 1,073,741,824 bits
Gibibyte 1,073,741,824 bytes
Gigabyte 1,000,000,000 bytes
Gigabit 1,000,000,000 bits
Tebibit 1,099,511,627,776 bits
Tebibyte 1,099,511,627,776 bytes
Terabyte 1,000,000,000,000 bytes
Terabit 1,000,000,000,000 bits
Pebibit 1,125,899,906,842,624 bits
Pebibyte 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes
Petabit 1,000,000,000,000,000 bits
Petabyte 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
Exabyte 1018 bytes
Exabit 1018 bits
Exbibit 260 bits
Exbibyte 260 bytes
Zettabyte 1021 bytes
Yottabyte 1024 bytes
A computer interfaces is what allows a computer to send and retrieve information for storage devices such as
computer hard disk drives and CD-ROM drives.

This section of Computer Hope briefly describes each of the major types of computer interfaces that are used
today and that have been used in the past. In addition to a brief explanation, this page also contains technical
specifications about each of the interfaces.


Today, the ATA interfaces are the most commonly used interface on IBM compatible computers to connect to
computer hard disk drives, CD-ROM drives, and other types of disk drives. Each of the below standards are
compatible with each other, which means a new ATA drive can be used in a computer using an older ATA
specification. Finally, when a new feature was introduced in an ATA standard, that feature is also found in
future releases. In other words, a ATA-4 is going to have support for PIO modes 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, even though
these were introduced in ATA-1 and ATA-2.

Below is a listing of each of the ATA, IDE, and EIDE standards to help give user a better understanding of the
history behind this interface as well as an understanding of each interface's capabilities.


ATA is short for AT Attachment interface and also more commonly known as IDE or ATA-1. ATA was approved as
a standard on May 12, 1994 under the ANSI document number X3.221-1994. ATA was first developed by
Control Data Corporation, Western Digital, and Compaq. ATA-1 utilizes a 8-bit or 16-bit interface, has a transfer
rates of up to 8.3MBps, and has support for PIO modes 0, 1, and 2. Today, ATA / ATA-1 is now considered

ATA-2 / EIDE / Fast ATA / Fast IDE / Ultra ATA

ATA-2, more commonly known as EIDE, and sometimes known as Fast ATA or Fast IDE, is a standard approved
by ANSI in 1996 under document number X3.279-1996. ATA-2 introduces new PIO modes of 3 and 4, has a
transfer rate of up to 16.6MBps, DMA modes 1 and 2, LBA support, and supports drives up to 8.4GB. Today,
ATA-2 is now considered obsolete.

ATA-3 is a standard approved by ANSI in 1997 under document number X3.298-1997. ATA-3 added additional
security features and the new S.M.A.R.T feature.


ATA-4 is a standard approved by ANSI in 1998 under document NCITS 317-1998. ATA-4 includes the ATAPI
packet command feature, introduces UDMA/33, also known as ultra-DMA/33 or ultra-ATA/33, which is
capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 33MBps.

ATA-5 is a standard approved by ANSI in 2000 under document NCITS 340-2000. ATA-5 adds support for Ultra-
DMA/66, which is capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 66MBps, and has the capability of
detecting between 40 or 80-wire cables.

ATA-6 is a standard approved by ANSI in 2001 under document NCITS 347-2001. ATA-6 added support for Ultra-
DMA/100, and had a transfer rate of up to 100MBps.

ATA layout
Each of the above ATA interfaces that are used with the 3.5-inch disk drives have a 40-pin connector and are
capable of supporting up to two drives per interface. However, 2.5-inch hard disk drives utilize a 50-pin
connector and PCMCIA utilizes a 68-pin connector Below is an illustration of the ATA interface

Pin Function Pin Function

1 Reset 2 Ground

3 Data 7 4 Data 8

5 Data 6 6 Data 9

7 Data 5 8 Data 10

9 Data 4 10 Data 11

11 Data 3 12 Data 12

13 Data 2 14 Data 13

15 Data 1 16 Data 14

17 Data 0 18 Data 15

19 Ground 20 Key

21 DDRQ 22 Ground

23 I/O Write 24 Ground

25 I/O Read 26 Ground

27 IOC HRDY 28 Cable Select

29 DDACK 30 Ground

31 IRQ 32 No Connect

33 Addr 1 34 GPIO_DMA66_Detect

35 Addr 0 36 Addr 2

37 Chip Select 1P 38 Chip Select 3P

39 Activity 40 Ground

Short for AT Attachment Packet Interface, ATAPI is an extension to ATA which allows support for devices such as
CD-ROM drives, Tape drives and other computer peripherals and not just hard disk drives. Before the release of
ATA-4 or ATA/ATAPI-4, ATAPI was a separate standard from ATA.


Shot for SerialATA, SATA 1.0 was first released in August 2001 and is a
replacement for the Parallel ATA interface used in IBM compatible computers.
SerialATA is capable of delivering 1.5Gbps (150MBps) of performance to each
drive within a disk array, offers backwards compatibility for existing ATA and
ATAPI devices, and offers a thin small cable solution as seen in the below
picture. This cable helps make a much easier cable routing and offers better
airflow in the computer when compared to the earlier ribbon cables used with
ATA drives.