Vintage computing enthusiast Collin "dosdude1" Mistr has released the second in a series of open source solid-state drive (SSD) upgrades for older computer hardware, following up a 1.8" ZIF design with a 2.5" model targeting classic laptops and other portables.
"[This is] a custom-designed IDE [Integrated Drive Electronics] SSD for use in any machine that utilizes a 2.5" IDE hard disk," Mistr explains of his latest open source storage board. "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 differentiate 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 disks which required a separate controller card. As the name implies, the controlling electronics are placed on the drive itself — making it easier to interface with a computer host's bus.
IDE hardware is getting increasingly hard to find, though, which is where Mistr's designs come in. Late last year he released a compact 1.8" SSD design which used the unusual Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) connector found in selected ultra-mobile PC designs including the 2008 Apple MacBook Air and the Sony Vaio UX family. This time, though, his design is something a little less unusual: a standard 2.5" IDE drive for regular laptops.
As before, Mistr is making the design available under an open source license — but it comes with the same warning as the earlier 1.8" version: "The Silicon Motion SM2236 controller pinout and implementation have been reverse-engineered from open documents and salvaged PCBs," Mistr explains, "all of which have been legally obtained. Do not 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 looking to build one will need to be comfortable soldering surface-mount components, and will require a modern PC with a USB-to-IDE adapter to program the drive's firmware before use. A video of the assembly process is available on Mistr's YouTube channel.