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Chipset Limitation

This is pretty straight-forward. If your motherboard doesn’t support your hard disk maximum transfer rate, the disk will be accessed using the chipset’s maximum transfer rate – or less, if you don’t match the other listed criteria.

A very good example is an ATA-133 hard disk installed on a motherboard based on Intel chipset. Intel does not support the ATA-133 standard, even on their latest chipsets like Intel 915 and 925 series. This means that your hard disk will be accessed at 100 MB/s on these latest chipsets because the chipset doesn’t support the ATA-133 standard. Another example: if you install this ATA-133 hard disk on an older motherboard based on the Intel 815 chipset, it will be accessed at 66 MB/s, since this is the chipset maximum transfer rate.

To learn which is the maximum hard disk transfer rate from your motherboard, simply read its manual. This is listed on its main features page. If you don’t have your motherboard manual, download it from your motherboard manufacturer website. If you don’t know your motherboard manufacturer and model or even don’t know which chipset your motherboard uses, run a hardware identification software such as Hwinfo, Sandra or Everest.

Alternativelly, you can read the chipset specifications – including the maximum transfer rate from its IDE ports – on the chipset manufacturer website.

If the IDE ports from your motherboard have a maximum transfer rate lower than your hard disk, you can solve this issue by installing an add-in card with IDE ports with higher specification. Two companies that manufacture such boards are HighPoint and Promise. In Figure 3, you can see an add-in card with two ATA-133 ports from Promise.

ATA-133 add-on boardFigure 3: PCI add-in card with two ATA-133 ports from Promise.

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Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.