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IDE may either stand for "Integrated Device Electronics" or "Integrated Development Environment." The first is a hardware term, while the second is software-related. Both terms are highly technical and if you know what they mean, you can impress even the nerdiest of your friends.

1. Integrated Device Electronics

IDE is one of the most widely-used hard drive interfaces on the market. The fancy name refers to how the technology integrates the electronics controller into the drive itself. While the original IDE standard could only support hard drives containing up to 540 MB of data, the new standard, EIDE (Enhanced-IDE), supports hard drives with over 250 GB of data. It also allows for data transfer rates that are over twice as fast as the original IDE.

Another common hard drive interface is SCSI, which is faster than EIDE, but usually costs more per megabyte. Newer hard drives may also use a SATA (Serial ATA) connection, which improves speed and power consumption over both SCSI and IDE.

2. Integrated Development Environment

Computer programming is a complicated and time-consuming task. Therefore, software development programs aim to make the development process as smooth as possible. IDE programs include a source code editor, compiler, and usually a debugger that all work together when building a software program. The IDE keeps track of all files related to a project and provides a central interface for writing source code, linking files together, and debugging the software.

IDE programming software may also include a runtime environment (RTE) for testing the software. When a program is run within the RTE, the software can track each event that takes place within the application being tested. This can be an invaluable tool for debugging the program. Because the IDE software uses a central interface for writing the code and testing the program, it is easy to make quick changes to the code, recompile it, and run the program again. Programming is still hard work, but IDE software helps make the processes a little more trouble-free.

Published: March 6, 2007

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