My 2 paisas

Posts Tagged ‘hardware


Why I came across the below article?

When I was trying to install Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) beta release installation on my system, I faced a peculiar problem. When I connected the CD Drive and my IDE HDD on a single IDE channel, BIOS was not detecting any of the hardware. However when connected individually, BIOS was able to detect both drives. I first felt that the IDE channel was not working and hence changed it and tried it again but again the same problem. Then I also changed the CPU and tried it on some other CPU thinking that my BIOS might have some problem( ya ya I am an idiot but sometimes inexpirience is very costly, however most people learn only the hard way). Then I finally gave up and asked my senior about it and that is when I found about the problem of master and slave and understood that it was a simple matter of changing the jumper and configuring one as master and other as slave. Anyways I now hope that nobody in future will find that dificulty and hopefully this whole article(along with the article from pcguide )will be useful.

Each IDE/ATA channel can support either one or two devices. IDE/ATA devices of course each contain their own integrated controllers, and so in order to maintain order on the channel, it is necessary to have some way of differentiating between the two devices. This is done by giving each device a designation as either master or slave, and then having the controller address commands and data to either one or the other. The drive that is the target of the command responds to it, and the other one ignores the command, remaining silent.

Note that despite the hierarchical-sounding names of “master” and “slave”, the master drive does not have any special status compared to the slave one; they are really equals in most respects. The slave drive doesn’t rely on the master drive for its operation or anything like that, despite the names (which are poorly-chosen–in the standards the master is usually just “drive 0” and the slave “drive 1”). The only practical difference between master and slave is that the PC considers the master “first” and the slave “second” in general terms. For example, DOS/Windows will assign drive letters to the master drive before the slave drive. If you have a master and slave on the primary IDE channel and each has only one regular, primary partition, the master will be “C:” and the slave “D:”. This means that the master drive (on the primary channel) is the one that is booted, and not the slave.

Devices are designated as master or slave using jumpers, small connectors that fit over pairs of pins to program the drive through hardware. Each manufacturer uses a different combination of jumpers for specifying whether its drive is master or slave on the channel, though they are all similar. Some manufacturers put this information right on the top label of the drive itself, while many do not; it sometimes takes some hunting around to find where the jumper pins are on the drive even once you know how the jumpers are supposed to go. The manufacturers are better about this now than they have been in the past, and jumpering information is always available in the manual of the hard disk, or by checking the manufacturer’s web site and searching for the model number. I describe (and illustrate) the jumpers on IDE/ATA disks in detail in the section on hard disk construction. For a fundamental description of what jumpers are, see here.

ATAPI devices such as optical, Zip and tape drives are jumpered in pretty much the same way as hard disks. They have the advantage of often having their jumpers much more clearly labeled than their hard disk counterparts. Most optical drives, for example, have three jumper blocks at the back, labeled “MA” (master), “SL” (slave) or “CS” (cable select).

If you are using two drives on a channel, it is important to ensure that they are jumpered correctly. Making both drives the master, or both the slave, will likely result in a very confused system. Note that in terms of configuration, it makes no difference which connector on the standard IDE cable is used in a standard IDE setup, because it is the jumpers that control master and slave, not the cable. This does not apply when cable select is being used, however. Also, there can be electrical signaling issues if one connects a single drive to only the middle connector on a cable, leaving the end connector unattached. In particular, the use of Ultra DMA is not supported in such a configuration; see the discussion of the 80-conductor Ultra DMA cable for more information.

As long as one drive is jumpered as master and the other as slave, any two IDE/ATA/ATAPI devices should work together on a single channel. Unfortunately, some older hard disks will fail to work properly when they are placed on a channel with another manufacturer’s disk. One of the reasons why drives don’t always “play nicely together” has to do with the Drive Active / Signal Present (/DASP) signal. This is an IDE/ATA interface signal carried on pin #39, which is used for two functions: indicating that a drive is active (during operation), and also indicating that a slave drive is present on the channel (at startup). Some early drives don’t handle this signal properly, a residue of poor adherence to ATA standards many years ago. If an older slave drive won’t work with a newer master, see if your master drive has an “SP” (slave present) jumper, and if so, enable it. This may allow the slave drive to be detected.

Drive compatibility problems can be extremely frustrating, and beyond the suggestion above, there usually is no solution, other than separating the drives onto different channels. Sometimes brand X won’t work as a slave when brand Y is the master, but X will work as a master when Y is the slave! Modern drives adhere to the formal ATA standards and so as time goes on and more of these older “problem” drives fall out of the market, making all of this less and less of a concern. Any hard disk bought in the last five years should work just fine with any other of the same vintage or newer.

When using only a single drive on a channel, there are some considerations to be aware of. Some hard disks have only a jumper for master or slave; when the drive is being used solo on a channel it should be set to master. Other manufacturers, notably Western Digital, actually have three settings for their drives: master, slave, and single. The last setting is intended for use when the drive is alone on the channel. This type of disk should be set to single, and not master, when being used alone.

Also, a single device on an IDE channel “officially” should not be jumpered as a slave. In practice, this will often work despite being formally “illegal”. Many ATAPI drives come jumpered by default as slave–because they are often made slaves to a hard disk’s master on the primary IDE channel, this saves setup time. However, for performance reasons they are sometimes put on the secondary channel, and often the system assemblers don’t bother to change the jumpers. It will work, but I don’t recommend it; if nothing more, it’s confusing to find a slave with no master when you or someone else goes back into the box a year or two later to upgrade.

For performance reasons, it is better to avoid mixing slower and faster devices on the same channel. If you are going to share a channel between a hard disk and an ATAPI device, it is generally a good idea to make the hard disk the master. In some situations there can be problems slaving a hard disk to an optical drive; it will usually work but it is non-standard, and since there is no advantage to making the ATAPI device the master, the configuration is best avoided.

There are many more performance considerations to take into account when deciding how to jumper your IDE devices, if you are using several different ones on more than one channel. Since only one of the master and slave can use any channel at a time, there are sometimes advantages to using more than one IDE/ATA channel even if not strictly necessary based on the number of devices you are trying to support. There can also be issues with using a drive that has support for a fast transfer mode like Ultra DMA with older devices that don’t support these faster modes.


today Debayan made an excellent comparison of soul and body with software and hardware. it made so much sense. if hardware stops working, software disappears. but without software, hardware does not have any purpose. it is just some matter. but with software, it gains a purpose and becomes a machine. similarly, body without soul(after death) is just some matter without any purpose. but when body is alive, it runs due to some software which we call as soul. ofcourse, the software associated with the body is highly architecture specific and its future highly depends on the environment in which the hardware is present. also, the software continuosly changes the hardware. now getting more deeper, let us think about the main memory and secondary memory. I think the role of main memory and secondary memory is played by heart and brain, not necessarily in same order. ofcourse, what is what changes from person to person. people keeping everything in their heart and listening to brain, use brain as main memory and heart as secondary memory. but people using their brain to store memories and who listen to their heart, use heart as main memory and brain as secondary memory.
another importent observation is that there is no restart option. you can just put it to stand by for sometime by sleeping or you can shutdown only once.

Links that I liked to save

Blog Stats

  • 45,193 hits