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Manual vs. Automatic Configuration
Host adapters vary in terms of the methods that are used for configuring them. Older and cheaper cards, particularly ones that use the ISA bus to connect to the PC, typically require the use of hardware jumpers for configuration tasks such as setting the SCSI device ID for the host adapter, enabling or disabling termination, and so on. These are relatively inconvenient because making changes requires opening up the PC, and in some cases, pulling out the card to tinker with it.
Newer cards, especially those that use the PCI bus, are generally configured through software. This is done either using a separate configuration utility, or the built-in SCSI BIOS, a hardware program that resides on a chip within the host adapter (much like the system BIOS in concept, but dedicated to the SCSI card, not the system as a whole.) Some cards may use both. Some better cards may also automatically configure certain options, such as termination, by detecting which connectors are in use, for example.
These issues are discussed in more detail in the section on configuration. Note that when I talk about configuration here I am speaking of configuring the SCSI bus, not the host adapter itself; see this page for more on that subject.
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