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With IDE disk drives, each connector on the motherboard can communicate with
two IDE drives. All IDE drives (Integrated Drive Electronics) contain a
drive controller. In order to use two drives attached to a single connector
with a ribbon bus cable, only one drive controller can be used. Each drive
has jumpers that can be used to determine if it is a master (drive
controller enabled) or slave (subordinate to the drive with the controller
enabled). So yes, master/slave is a very accurate metaphor.
I just installed a new EIDE DVD Burner in my system. In addition to
M(Master) and S(Slave) jumpers, there was a CS (Cable Select) jumper. The
dead drive I replaced was set to CS; however, my new drive didn't like that
setting, so now everything is back to good old Master/Slave.
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