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Method for driver forward compatibility using onboard device memory

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000008688D
Publication Date: 2002-Jul-02
Document File: 4 page(s) / 83K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method for driver forward compatibility using onboard device memory. Benefits include improved functionality, improved usability, and improved performance.

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Method for driver forward compatibility using onboard device memory

Disclosed is a method for driver forward compatibility using onboard device memory. Benefits include improved functionality, improved usability, and improved performance.

Background

              Computer hardware devices require computer software (device drivers) to operate successfully. This software is distributed with each piece of hardware sold. Without the device driver, the hardware does not function. As new revisions of the hardware become available, new device drivers must be written and installed on the user’s system for the new hardware to operate. This approach creates several problems for hardware manufacturers and end-users alike.

              The hardware manufacturer must decide how to distribute the device drivers. Usually, the drivers are packaged with the product on a CD-ROM or a floppy disk. However, this approach requires that the user possesses the hardware to read the media to extract and install the drivers. In addition, installation procedures and documentation must be available for the user.

              If the driver software is available on the Internet, the user system must have access to the Internet. If the hardware device being distributed enables Internet access, such as a modem or network adapter, access would be impossible.

              A conventional practice is for a hardware manufacturer to submit its drivers to operating system vendors and have them included in the operating system install. Unfortunately, the device drivers included with the operating system are only updated as often as an operating system version is released. As a result, the drivers contained within the operating system do not support most new hardware. In addition, as drivers are updated by the independent hardware vendor (IHV), users tends to only use the drivers built into the operating system because they are simpler to install. Therefore, users generally do not run the most up-to-date driver. The hardware may not perform optimally or may encounter errata that have already been fixed and could have been avoided.

              A single device driver could be written that would run all current versions of the hardware from the manufacturer as well as all future versions of similar hardware. However, conventionally, this approach is seldom implemented. It requires new hardware to be backwards compatible with the old driver, which often does not allow for new hardware features and/or new ways to improve performance of the old features.

General description

              The disclosed method embeds portions of a device driver in the device’s hardware memory, enabling a single driver to be installed on the system that supports all future versions of the hardware.

Advantages

              The disclosed method provides advantages, including:

·        Improved functionality due to support for forward compatibility from old hardware drivers to new hardware drivers

·        Improved usability due to the capability of an older driver to work with brand new hardware right away with no...