Vintage computer enthusiast Collin “dosdude1″ Mistr has released the second in a series of open source solid-state drive (SSD) upgrades for older computer hardware, following a 1.8″ ZIF design with a 2.5” model aimed at classic laptops and other portable devices.
“[This is] a custom designed IDE [Integrated Drive Electronics] SSD for use in any machine that uses a 2.5-inch IDE hard drive,” explains Mistr of its latest open source storage card. “The design is based on the Silicon Motion SM2236 controller and is compatible with up to four 512Gbit (64GB) BGA [Ball Grid Array] 152 or BGA132 NANDs.”
Also known as AT Attachment (ATA) or Parallel ATA (PATA) to distinguish it from the newer Serial ATA (PATA), the Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) standard was developed by Western Digital in the mid-1980s as an alternative to older hard drives that required a separate controller board. As the name implies, the control electronics are placed on the drive itself, making it easier to communicate with a computer host’s bus.
However, IDE hardware is becoming increasingly difficult to find, which is where Mistr’s designs come in. Late last year he released a compact 1.8-inch SSD design which used the unusual Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) connector found in select ultra-portable PC designs, including the 2008 Apple MacBook Air and the Sony Vaio UX family. This time, however, its design is a little less unusual: a standard 2.5-inch IDE drive for regular laptops.
The 2.5-inch SSD follows the release of a smaller 1.8-inch design built for ultraportable devices with a ZIF connector. (: Collin Mistr)
As before, Mistr makes the design available under an open source license – but it comes with the same warning as the earlier 1.8-inch version: “The pinout and implementation of the Silicon Motion SM2236 controller are reverse engineered based on open documents and salvaged PCBs,” Mistr explains, “all of which were obtained legally. Don’t expect this to be correct, check for yourself.”
The design files for the project are available on Mistr’s GitHub repository under the reciprocal GNU General Public License 3; those wanting to build one should be comfortable soldering surface mount components and need a modern PC with a USB to IDE adapter to program the drive’s firmware for use. A video of the assembly process is available on Mistr’s YouTube channel.