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Method and apparatus for enabling firmware and device driver software of integrated graphics chipsets to share state and parameters

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000005024D
Publication Date: 2001-Jul-17
Document File: 5 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method and apparatus for enabling firmware and device driver software of integrated graphics chipsets to share state and parameters. Benefits include the capability for graphics controller and drivers to share graphics memory, improved hardware design, and APM-style power management.

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Method and apparatus for enabling firmware and device driver software of integrated graphics chipsets to share state and parameters

Disclosed is a method and apparatus for enabling firmware and device driver software of integrated graphics chipsets to share state and parameters. Benefits include the capability for graphics controller and drivers to share graphics memory, improved hardware design, and APM-style power management.

Overview

The disclosed method and apparatus consists of the following components:

Video BIOS firmware client

Device driver(s) client(s)

User interface clients(s)

Either or both of the following:

System memory which is shared with the graphics controller

Local memory which is dedicated-to the graphics controller.

A portion of this graphics memory which is accessible to both clients and is reserved from normal usage

Stolen, shared, and unified memory architectures are terms referring to platforms that use system memory for the graphics controller, instead or (or in addition to) dedicated memory on a dedicated memory bus of the graphics controller. The later type of memory is referred to as local memory. Collectively, both can be called graphics memory.

The disclosed method uses a predefined region of graphics memory to enable storing state information and objects for the purpose of sharing data, state and parameters between video BIOS (VBIOS) and drivers. Various algorithms are used to co-ordinate between the driver and VBIOS to capture and save data in the shared region.

Some uses for graphics memory include:

Storage of pop-up icon patterns

A pop-up icon is a hardware feature that enables a small programmable block of data to

appear as a sprite, displayed on the display over the current pixel pattern. Pop ups are often used on mobile computers for things like volume control, brightness, and other functions. Pop ups are an effective means of allowing the OEM to reduce the number of dedicated special keys required to control a portable computer's numerous integrated features.

Storage of timing and mode data for Flex mode

Flex mode is the ability for the device drivers to dynamically adjust mode resolution

parameters. This can be used to software adjust the display image on a display device.

Special storage for APM power-management support

In APM power management, the video BIOS must save and restore the register state.

However, some registers are not accessible. Some state information is unavailable and too large for the VBIOS to capture. In that case, assistance from the drivers is required. Using the stolen memory data buffer, the driver can dynamically provide the values of hidden registers to the VBIOS as the hidden registers are set. The VBIOS then has the data required to restore the system from a deep power-managed state.

Conventionally, the video BIOS is read-only firmware without dedicated storage space and is not user configurable after installation. The video BIOS relies on fixed settings derived from its Read-Only Memory image (ROM BIOS...