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Definition: IDE


(1) (Integrated Development Environment) A set of programming tools for writing applications (source code editor, compiler, debugger, etc.), all activated from a common user interface and set of menus. IDEs are standard procedure for program development. See Eclipse, Xcode, Visual Studio, compiler and debugger.




IDEs Are Very Different
Programmers write, compile and debug their applications in these popular IDEs. The File, Edit, Windows and Help menus were removed in this example to highlight the remaining menus, which barely resemble each other. When switching to a new operating system platform, developers have to learn a whole raft of new program interfaces (APIs) while making it all work in a new IDE. See API.




(2) (Integrated Drive Electronics/Intelligent Drive Electronics) A hardware interface for hard drives and CD/DVD drives. Introduced in 1986 with 20 megabytes of storage, IDE became the standard, and storage grew to hundreds of gigabytes. Officially known as an AT Attachment (ATA) device (see AT bus), IDE's primary contribution was building the disk controller into the drive itself so that only a simple circuit was required on the motherboard. Optical drives use the ATA Packet Interface (see ATAPI). Also known as "Parallel ATA" (PATA), IDE/PATA was superseded by Serial ATA (see SATA).

Master and Slave
Two IDE drives share one cable and are configured as master and slave. Out of the box, drives are set to master, and switching jumper pins makes them slaves.

Myriad Names Over the Years
The following mean the same thing: IDE, ATA, IDE/ATA, EIDE, EIDE/ATA, Fast/ATA and PATA. Using a 100 MB/sec example, drives went by "ATA-100," "Ultra ATA-100," "DMA-100" or "Ultra DMA-100." For detailed specifications, see PATA/SATA specifications. See Cable Select, SMART HDD, hard disk interfaces and SATA.




PATA Vs. SATA Cables
IDE/PATA cables took up a lot of room inside the case and impeded air flow. Motherboards had 40-pin sockets for optical drives and 80 pins for hard drives.






Fault Tolerant IDE
In the late 1990s, Arco was first to provide RAID 1 (mirroring) with "inexpensive" IDE drives rather than SCSI. This drive bay card plugged into the motherboard, and cables went to two drives (see RAID). (Image courtesy of Arco Computer Products, Inc., www.arcoide.com)