Log in ....Tribune

Dot.ComLatest in ITFree DownloadsOn hardware

Monday, November 5, 2001

Exploit DMA settings to the maximum
Vipul Verma

THE Windows XP is finally out and everyone is again looking for more. Well! The quest for more does not end, as there is no end to advancement in technology. When Windows was being launched it was considered to be the ultimate thing. However, with the launch of Windows 3.1 the PC revolution began and with the launch of Windows '95, a new dimension was added to the world of personal computers. Later on with further developments and improvements, Windows '98 and Windows 2000 went ahead in making Windows operating system indispensable for the PC users. Despite the introduction of newer operating systems, the older one did not lose its worth. Still, Windows '98 is the most popular operating system among the PC users and is still powerful enough to handle their needs. The older operating systems like Windows '98 SE, Windows 2000 etc. are more powerful than our day-to-day requirements need them to be. All we need to do is explore them thoroughly and use them optimally.

There are many things, which still remain a mystery for the PC users. One such thing is DMA/UDMA support setting.

Normally, a majority of computer users are not aware what these DMA/UDMA settings mean and can be exploited to the maximum.


Basically, DMA or Direct Memory Access is a system that allows devices in your computer to transfer data directly to and from RAM without having to use the CPU as an intermediary. This boost the performance of your PC significantly as not only the device from which the data is being read responds quickly, but also leaves the most important component, the CPU, free for other critical operations. However, the UDMA or the Ultra direct memory access is further advancement over the DMA technology that uses even higher data transfer rate thereby boosting the overall performance of the PC.

In the high-end operating systems like Windows 2000, Windows '98 SE etc., the use of DMA or UDMA setting could prove useful. However, in the absence of proper information and knowledge about the settings, the users remains deprived of their advantages.

Many PC users think that the DMA support applies only the hard disk and they just enable it for the hard disk. However, the DMA support works equally good for the CD-ROM also and boost the performance of the CD-ROM manifold. Since, the majority of latest hardware that is hard disk and CD-ROMs are compatible with the DMA, thus the users should enable these settings for increased performance.

In case of Windows 2000, you should enable the support for DMA or UDMA for hard disk while installing the operating system. If the setting has not been enabled while installing the operating system, then it should be enabled later for getting the necessary performance boost. For enabling the DMA setting, simply right click on My Computer icon and then from the drop-down menu, click on the properties option. This will open system properties dialogue box on your computer screen. Now select the hardware tab and then click on the Device Manager button. In the Device Manager window, click on the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers branch to open it. From corresponding window, double click on the primary IDE channel. This will open the primary IDE channel property box on your computer screen.

In this box, click on the Advanced Settings tab. Here you'll find the details regarding the DMA or Ultra DMA settings mode. If the mode is not set to the DMA or Ultra DMA, then you should select Auto Detection from the Device Type drop-down list and then click OK. Then, close open window and restart PC.

On restarting, return to Device Manager and check again. Here if the current transfer mode setting is still not set to the DMA or Ultra DMA mode, select DMA if available from the Transfer Mode drop down list and click OK. Now once again, close all Windows and restart PC. Repeat the process mentioned above again to check the DMA or Ultra DMA setting installed on your system. This will set your hard disk to the DMA/Ultra DMA mode.

However, if you still find your system not set to be DMA or Ultra DMA, then you should first enable the DMA setting in the BIOS. For enabling the DMA setting in the BIOS, simply hit Del, when your system boots up and energy logo is being displayed. Once you are in the CMOS setup utility, open the BIOS feature set to enable the Ultra DMA setting. The above-mentioned process will set the primary channel of the PC to Ultra DMA. However, the other important channel i.e. the secondary channel, on which the CD-ROM is normally installed, remains to be configured for Ultra DMA an setting that is set to the PIO mode as the default setting.

Follow the above-mentioned procedure again and select the secondary channel in the device Manager and change the mode to DMA. This is an important setting and will significantly boost the PCs performance. By enabling DMA setting on the secondary channel the speed of the CD-ROM though will not increase but by bypassing the load on CPU, the overall performance of the PC will get a significant boost. After enabling this setting on the secondary channel, you'll notice that you won't have to stop working when your CD-ROM is accessing data, which is normally a case in most of the PCs.