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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Interfaces and Configuration | Integrated Drive Electronics / AT Attachment (IDE/ATA) Interface | Unofficial IDE/ATA Standards and Marketing Programs ]
Enhanced IDE (EIDE)
Enhanced IDE, also called EIDE, is a term that Western Digital coined in 1994 to represent a particular set of extensions it devised to the original AT Attachment standard. At that time, the official ATA standard was rather limiting, and work was progressing towards the new ATA-2 standard. Western Digital decided that it did not want to wait for the new standard, and also that it could better position itself as a market leader by creating a new feature set for (then) future drives. The name "Enhanced IDE" was presumably selected to build upon the common name for ATA then in popular use: IDE.
The original Enhanced IDE program included the following improvements over ATA:
EIDE has become a widely-accepted term in the industry, which would be great if not for the fact that it is so incredibly confusing. Objections to EIDE include the following issues:
Some people in the hard disk industry apparently feel that the creation of "Enhanced IDE" was one of the worst things to ever happen to the IDE/ATA interface! I think that is probably a bit over-stated, though I do agree that it is probably one of the most confusing things to ever happen to the IDE/ATA interface. :^) Much of the criticism is valid, but some of it is just the usual conflicts between rivals in a very competitive industry. And I do think Western Digital's goal of expanding IDE/ATA capabilities was a laudable one, even if the implementation of the program left a bit to be desired.
Of all the criticisms leveled at Western Digital, there's one that I personally agree with strongly, and that's the issue of redefining the term. Every time the IDE/ATA interface standards change, Western Digital changes the actual interface specifics of its drives, but continues to list the interface of the drive as just "EIDE". A term that is constantly redefined is a term that is utterly meaningless. As a result, I can only tell people at this point that if they see a drive labeled as being "EIDE", to keep digging to find out the specifics of the modes and official standards it supports, because "EIDE" by itself doesn't tell you anything (other than the generic interface of the drive, as the terms "IDE" or "ATA" do.) It would be nice if Western Digital would just drop the term entirely, but I doubt this will happen since they have spent so many years promoting it.
Next: Fast ATA and Fast ATA-2