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Floppy Disk Controller Speed
The floppy disk controller included in virtually all new PCs will support every type of standard floppy disk. Older controllers, however, would not work with the newer drives. Generally speaking, the limiting factor was the floppy controller's ability to run at a high enough speed. While the floppy interface is in general very slow--far slower than hard disk interfaces, even at the floppy's top speed--there are in fact different "shades" of slow. :^)
The speed required of the controller is directly related to the density of the floppy disk media being used, in particular the bit density per track. Since higher-density floppies record more information in the same space, they require faster data transfer to the drive, to ensure that the data arrives "on time" to be recorded. There are currently three different controller speeds:
Today, the speed of the floppy controller is actually more important when dealing with floppy interface tape drives. In many cases using the full capacity of the tape drive is dependent upon the floppy controller being fast enough to handle the high data transfer rates required by the latest tape formats. This is actually the same exact reason that causes high-capacity floppy formats not to be supported by older, slower controllers.
Tip: You can usually tell what
sorts of floppy drives your system will support based on the allowable entries in the
floppy drive setup BIOS parameters.