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This is the parallel bus for data transfer from hard disks and optical drives (CD and DVD) also known as Parallel ATA, to contrast with Serial ATA. The latest version features an 40 pin, 80 wire ribbon cable to connect motherboards to drives. Each such cable can support up to a maximum of two devices, with one drive on a cable configured as the master drive, and the other as the slave. This setting is normally handled by a small jumper block somewhere on the drive.
Warning: In most cases, notches in the connector provide protection against reverse insertion or pin alignment/mismatch problems, but older cut-rate cables may lack these features. To prevent mishap, please obey the following rule: the side of the cable that's marked with a colored line (usually red) always attaches to the connector on the motherboard on the side that's labeled with the number 1, both for hard disks and CD/DVD drives (in fact, the stripe denotes the lead associated with pin 1 in the pin block). At the same time, the marked side of the ribbon cable should always be oriented toward the side of the drive where the power cables attach. Also, careful examination of the cable connectors and device or motherboard pin blocks show that both are missing a pin or a hole in the middle of one row. By matching up the missing pin on the drive or motherboard with the missing hole on the ribbon cable connector, correct alignment is always guaranteed.