Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between IDE and PATA


IDE and PATA are two terms that people typically get confused over since they are used in referring to pretty much the same hard drives. Although it might seem like there should be some difference between the hardware identified by the two, when it comes to hard drives, there is actually no difference. IDE and PATA, in modern terms, just refer to the same type of hard drive that uses flat, ribbon-type cables that were in predominant use prior to the introduction of SATA.

The confusion between IDE and PATA stems from how the technology evolved. Western Digital, a company that is now largely associated with hard drives, created the first IDE drive. “IDE” stands for “Integrated Drive Electronics,” and it was very different from older hard drives because it greatly simplified the interfacing between the processor and the hard drive. Part of the IDE specification is the interface, which was known as the AT-Attachment or “ATA.” The “P,”,which stands for “Parallel,” was later added to make it easier to differentiate between older PATA drives and newer SATA (Serial-ATA) drives.

Strictly speaking, “IDE” refers to the first generation of drives from Western Digital that used the PATA interface. It was later superseded by the Enhanced-IDE or EIDE drives, which also used the enhanced ATA-2 interface. PATA was later on adapted as a computer interface standard and was adopted by all hard drive manufacturers.

The mixed beginnings of PATA and IDE mean that most people are not able to discern one from the other. If you tried to buy an IDE drive at any computer store, you would probably be handed a PATA compatible hard drive. This is despite the fact that IDE drives have long been obsolete. PATA is still in use nowadays but has mostly been replaced by SATA. Older computers still use PATA drives since they cannot use SATA drives. The PATA interface has also been adapted for use with Compact Flash Cards due to its simplicity. PATA, in its normal form, is not very suitable for CF since it needs a separate power source and is quite large. However, with modifications to the hardware, the reduction of the physical connection as well as providing a separate power source solve the problem.


1.IDE and PATA are now used synonymously.
2.IDE refers to the first-generation PATA drives.
3.IDE is already obsolete while PATA is still in use.

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