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I have been making the assertion that PATA is on-topic, but it turns out that there isn't actually much (or any) consensus to back this assertion up with.

Are questions about PATA, with no other Retrocomputing-related elements, on-topic?


Example question:

Related but not really applicable:

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Are questions about PATA, with no other Retrocomputing-related elements, on-topic?

IDE/PATA is per se (*1) not on topic, as it's still actual technology (2018). Drives are still sold with PATA, even new Flash drives are fited with PATA. Same for mainboards with IDE/PATA. Just bought one last summer, as I still want to keep my LS240 drives running. There are PCIe adapters for IDE/PATA available, as well as USB-IDE/PATA bridges.

To be on topic a question needs to have a clear RC related target. This does include issues like (non-exhaustive list)

(in general, "old" refers here not so much to age, as outdated, no longer manufactured/sold and no longer maintained)

  1. Problems with a certain combination of (old) adaptor/mainboard and (old) drive.

  2. Informations of specific protocoll issues/enhancements of special no longer manufactured and maintained drives.

  3. Hardware problems with (old) adaptors/drives in their retro environment.

  4. Documentation Requests for such drives/adaptors/mainboards.

  5. Drivers for (special) drives for a retro environment.

  6. Shoping recomendations for spare parts for no longer produced/general availible hardware and/or software (I know this is controverse - but here the crowd mind is needed)

Other Issues are rather borderline and do need a case by case evaluation, like

  1. Connecting an old drive to some odd machine. While this is in general off topic, if the machine is odd enough, curiosity/cooless of the solution may outwight this.

  2. Connecting an old drive to an actual machine for continued usage

  3. Connecting an old drive to an actual machine for data recovery

  4. Looking for (non standard) drivers for modern OS to use old drives.

Ofc, especially point 2/3 is only on topic if there is no standard, common available off the shelf solutuion available.


Addendum: Thinking of it, these rules may work well not only for IDE/PATA, but any technology. Wheels are still round, so many old technology can still be found new of the shelf. So taking above guidelines may work as guidelines to see if a certain question is a case for RC, or some other Stack.


*1 - Per se, Latin for by itself

  • RE your first point: hardware support started to be dropped in 2007 and they haven't been manufactured widely since 2013. See here for an anecdote (not evidence). By the fifth result they stop being about PATA and by the sixth they are just " Screw , Bolt , Nut , Taps , Drill " and the like. – wizzwizz4 Feb 18 '18 at 16:18
  • @wizzwizz4 Since it's a technoligy used by many manufacturers in various products, there is no easy date. I just looked thru the ASRock website and found boards right away. And the very first Distributor I looked carries it. Same is true vor PCIe boards to add PATA to modern computers. Simiar searches worked out for Flash and Disk drives or DVD drive. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 18:04
  • Wikipedia LIED TO ME! :-) Ok, you win. Anything I've got is flimsy at best, and if PATA is off-topic that question should definitely be closed. – wizzwizz4 Feb 18 '18 at 18:06
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    @wizzwizz4 I give you, it's true, that PATA is on a steep decline, but it's still available at main stream distributors (Not to mention that it's still strong among embedded markets). Thus it may be a bit early to declare it as already phased out. Personally I'd say, lets wait 10 more years and then call it retro. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 18:07
  • @wizzwizz4 I would love to make a point that the on/off topic issue is not so much something that can be definitly tied to a certain device or even less technology. We need to be sensible about the usage. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 18:09
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PATA is on-topic

PATA should be considered on-topic for the following reasons:

  • PATA is obsolete. It was created in 1986 (so it's not new), and was superseded by SATA in 2003. Around 2007 chips began to drop support for PATA.

    The ICH9 came out in May 2007 in the P35 (Bearlake) chipset. It removes all PATA support. In practice, many motherboard manufacturers continue providing PATA support using third-party chips. Officially only the ICH9R, ICH9DH, ICH9DO chip have AHCI support. – Wikipedia

    Since 2013 PATA drives are no longer manufactured for the consumer market; this is the very latest that PATA drives could be considered to be "still modern" by any reasonable metric.

  • Upkeep of PATA is required to keep some computers running. This is the same debate as in Questions About TVs—On Topic?, from which I quote:

    If they don't explicitly say it's for a non-computing purpose I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and call it on-topic. – Ken Gober

    This policy can be extended to PATA; with non-Retrocomputing uses dwindling, it is safe to assume[citation needed] that such questions are for a Retrocomputing-related application. If the answers would be useful for Retrocomputing, the question's on-topic.

  • It's a slippery slope to tie the on-tiopc-ness to an answer. That means an off-topic question can be made on-topic by a fiting answer. In a conclusion that measn every question possible is allowed, as there might be an on-topic answer. Thus no question ever can be off-topic. As a definition this is an obvious cul-de-sac. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 18:58
  • Also, Just because Intel chipsets don't support it doesn't mean that board manufacturers don't put seperate controllers on board. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 19:10
  • The Argument 'keeping some computer running' does not make a question it RC specific. Especially in a professional environment long term support is quite different for anything main stream. I know several companies still maintaining 1980s Z80 systems, even producing new boards for replacements. Or just think about all the Apple II used still today to control knitting machinery. – Raffzahn Feb 18 '18 at 19:14
  • I'm tying the on-topic-ness to a hypothetical answer-to-the-question-the-whole-question-and-nothing-but-the-question. – wizzwizz4 Feb 18 '18 at 19:17
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    A good parallel question would be: is SCSI on topic? If so, it's a lot easier to argue that PATA is on topic. And I think a bona fide argument can be made for SCSI. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 18 '18 at 15:00
  • @JimMacKenzie Please post that question. – wizzwizz4 Mar 18 '18 at 15:34
  • At this point the only support for PATA is niche deathbed retrotech situations where some business still has to rely on the technology for their legacy systems or risk bankruptcy. General knowledge of Master/Slave/Cable-Select, 40/80-pin ribbons, PIO/DMA, and CHS/LBA has long passed the point of usefulness. It is clearly retro tech now. One drive per cable with SATA is just so easy, who can imagine wanting to do it any other way anymore? – Dale Mahalko Mar 28 '18 at 8:29

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