A compact car that runs on a coal boiler. A cell phone that only allows you to text via Morse code. And a modern, multi-terabyte 2.5-inch SSD that connects to a motherboard with an IDE interface. What do all these things have in common? They’re perfectly plausible technology combinations that you’d need to be a little crazy to actually build. But the last one is now a reality, at least a theoretical one.
For those of our readers who might not be able to buy their own alcohol yet: IDE stands for Integrated Drive Electronics. Also known as Parallel-ATA, it’s a 40-pin connector we used to connect hard drives and disc drives to motherboards before SATA (Serial-ATA) came along. If you were building or upgrading PCs from around 1990 to 2005, you know the wide, floppy ribbon of an IDE cable well: it made desktop case cable routing a headache.
Github user “DosDude1” (spotted by Tom’s Hardware) remembers IDE fondly. Or perhaps they don’t, and they’ve designed an IDE interface for a modern storage controller out of pure necessity. Either way, if you have a Silicon Motion SM2236 controller, a bunch of NAND flash storage modules, and a bit of soldering and programming skill, you can create your own 2.5-inch SSD that connects with an IDE-equipped motherboard.
The speed of your flash storage (up to 2 TB of it, if you max out the four 512GB connections) will vastly bottleneck the IDE connection, which tops out at 133 megabits per second. That’s about one-fifth the speed of a modern SATA III connection, which is also about the same difference between SATA III and a speedy NVMe M.2 drive (3.5 Gbps). But hey, if you absolutely need to run Red Alert II on period-accurate hardware, aside from insanely fast storage, here’s your chance.