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Difference Between AHCI and IDE

ideAHCI vs IDE

IDE stands for Integrated Drive Electronics. This has been the standard interface that is used for storage media like hard drives and optical drives for a considerable length of time. Though there were some hurdles at the beginning, the standard was eventually perfected and different drives from different manufacturers can attach to most motherboards. IDE was superseded by SATA as it introduced a lot of advantages. AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) is an application programming interface that defines one mode of operation for SATA. AHCI does not affect the speed at which SATA drives operate but it exposes the advanced features that are available with SATA.

To maintain backwards compatibility with older hardware, most SATA controllers provide you with the choice of which operation mode you want to use. Operation modes include AHCI and IDE, often referred to as legacy IDE or native IDE, among others so that you have freedom. Choosing IDE as your mode of operation is just like having a good old reliable IDE drive but without the benefits of AHCI.

AHCI allows users to utilize advanced features that are available to SATA. The first feature is Native Command Queuing or NCQ. Without NCQ, each request is served sequentially without any optimization. NCQ analyzes the requests and rearranges them so that requested data locations that are physically closer to each other are grouped together so that they can be accessed in one pass and the time needed is minimized. AHCI also enables hot-plugging or the ability to attach or remove hard drives from a system that is running similar to a removable drive. This is not possible with IDE drives as they are configured during boot time.

The choice, of whether you would be using AHCI or IDE, is done prior to installing the operating system on the computer as switching from one to the other after would often lead to the system not working properly if at all. Most operating systems now have patches to address this problem but specific steps needs to be followed prior to switching.

1.IDE is an old interface standard used for storage devices while AHCI is an application programming interface for the newer SATA interface.
2.Most SATA controllers allow you to choose between AHCI and IDE among other operation modes.
3.AHCI has advanced features like NCQ and hot plugging that is not available with IDE.
4.Switching from IDE to AHCI or vice versa after the operating system is installed can lead to problems.

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  1. I tried to switch from IDE to SATA when Windows XP was installed and drive started to spin like mad at 20k rps.

  2. thank you for the good knowledge you share.

  3. Actually, all you have to do if you already have windows (7) installed is edit the registry in hkey_local machine look for something that says enableahci and set to 0 , default is 3. it will say a restart is required, restart and go into the bios and set AHCI to enabled. When windows restarts it will install the drivers for AHCI. Done deal. Worked for me on my new ssd after I installed win 7 64 bit in IDE mode…. and a noticed a big speed increase from IDE to AHCI with my M4 SSD. Good luck!

    • Thanks it helped

    • Hi, my old VAIO (2010) laptop runs Windows 10 on a newly-cloned SSD quite speedily (quite blazingly so compared to the old HDD that it came with). However, the SSD is running in IDE mode (yeah, that old story).

      Would switching to AHCI make a difference in everyday tasks? I ask because the laptop is useable as-is, and am nervous to do the registry tweak/reboot, expecially if the benefits are minimal at best.

  4. I’m operating on windows 8 pro which use IDE when try changes to AHCI I can’t open my Windows. Why?

    • khairul
      didnt you read the explanation, the naswer is there, once you instal your OS in any mode, after that you shouldnt change the host interface

  5. Yeah, I done the same mistake I installed windows in IDE mode, and then i switched after a few days on AHCI mode.
    System worked fine few days but after it started to freeze and I almost lost my SSD. Now im formatting it again looks like its a still alive wish me luck!

  6. I’m just wondering, if I install my main drives as AHCI can I use my back up drive which is configured as IDE at the same time in a multi drive PC??

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