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A hard disk controller (HDC) is an electrical component within a computer hard disk that enables the processor or CPU to access, read, write, delete and modify data to and from the hard disk. Essentially, an HDC allows the computer or its processor to control the hard disk.
A hard disk controller's primary function is to translate the instructions received from the computer into something that can be understood by the hard disk and vice versa. It consists of an expansion board and its related circuitry, which is usually attached directly to the backside of the hard disk. The instructions from a computer flow through the hard disk adapter, into the hard disk interface and then onto the HDC, which sends commands to the hard disk for performing that particular operation.
Typically, the type and functions of a hard disk controller depend on the type of interface being used by the computer to access the hard disk. For example, an IDE hard disk controller is used for IDE interface based hard disks.