Interface (Computing)

By definition, an interface is anything that allows two dissimilar systems to work together or communicate. In peripherals such as hard disk an interface is required to provide communication between the computer bus and the hard disk.

The most popular interface used in modern hard disks is the IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) interface, also known as ATA. Another commonly used interface is the SCSI (pronounced skuzzy), which is further divided into SCSI-1, SCSl-2, and SCSI-3.


(a) IDE:

The IDE concept was proposed by Western Digital and Compaq in 1986 to overcome the performance limitations of earlier subsystem standards like ST5506 and ESDI. While IDE itself is not a hardware standard, the proposals it formulated were incorporated into an industry approved interface specification known as ATA (AT Attachment). ATA is the formal standard that defines the 40-pins interface and its protocols but somehow “IDE” gained currency as the trade name for ATA.


One of the major innovations introduced by IDE was the integration of the disk controller functions into the disk drive itself, instead of relying on a standalone controller board. This approach reduces interface costs and makes drive firmware implementation easier. IDE proved to be a low-cost, easily configurable system- so much so that it created a boom in the disk drive industries.



The term hard drive, floppy drive, CD drive are more common amongst PC users. Mostly all the drives are installed at the time of mother board installation. When new hardware is added, its drive is installed through CD. The concept of drive not very complex. It is a port to drives specific hardware.


(a) Hard Disk Drive (HDD): It is applied to rotate hard disk and accomplish read-write functions. It has its own circuit board. A hard disk stores and provides relatively quick access to large amounts of data on an electro-magnetically charged surface. A hard disk drive rotates disk with speed varying from 5400 to 7200 rpm. The disk access time is measured in milliseconds. Being a very precisely engineered device, the HDD must operate in a totally, clean, scaled chamber.


(b) Floppy Drive: The floppy disk is also secondary memory. Its read-write functions are performed with Floppy Drive. The Floppy disk technology is making giant strides. Some of the technology used in hard disks such as non-contact recording, light weight heads driven by voice coils and effective sealing of disk are being used in the design of floppy disk drives.


(c) CD-ROM / DVD Drive: It is a read-write drive for CD-ROM. The most used technology for high-capacity portable storage is the CD-ROM. Information is written on to the CD-ROM by creating pits on the disk surface a laser beam. As the disk rotates the laser beam traces out a continuous spiral, the shapely focused beam creates circular pits wherever a ’1’ is to be written and no pit (land), if a Zero has to be written.

The DVD technology provides a storage capacity that is at least 6 to 7 times greater than a CD, in the same space. The 2 hours movies can be stored in single CD using DVD technology.

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