A Look at the Different Types of Device Drivers


Device Drivers rely on the Operating System’s instructions to access the device and conduct any activity.

They also indicate their reactions after the activity by sending output or status from the hardware device to the operating system.

After receiving instructions from the OS, a printer driver, for example, tells the printer which format to print in. Next, a sound card driver converts the 1s and 0s in an MP3 file into audio signals, allowing you to enjoy the music.

Hence, Device Drivers are required to operate card readers, modems, controllers, sound cards, network cards, printers, USB devices, video cards, speakers, and RAM, among other things.

Let’s find out more details about the device drivers here:

 What Is A Device Driver?

A device driver is a computer program that controls or operates a specific device connected to the computer in computing.

A device driver is a program that offers a software interface to hardware devices, allowing computer programs and operating systems to access and communicate with hardware operations without having to know specifics about the hardware.

This communication takes over a computer bus, connecting the hardware to a communications subsystem. A computer bus is a communication system that allows data to be transferred between computer components or between computers.

When a device driver calls a program, it triggers a routine in the driver, sending commands to the device. When the device delivers the data back to the driver, the driver can call the original calling program’s functions.

A routine is a collection of program instructions that perform a particular activity and are packaged as a unit. This unit can then be utilized in other programs to do that operation. Routines can be defined both within programs and in libraries shared by multiple programs.

Device drivers are hardware-dependent and operating-system-specific, and they also provide the interrupt handling for any asynchronous time-dependent hardware interface required.

Device drivers are required in an operating system because some circuits do not use conventional commands.

 How Does A Device Driver Work?

Device drivers have a high privilege within the operating system runtime environment. This is because specific device drivers are directly tied to the operating system kernel, a memory-resident part of an operating system like Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

Device drivers communicate with hardware devices by conveying requests for device access and actions from the operating system and any running application. Device drivers also transmit outputs, messages, and status from hardware devices to the operating system.

Both a scanner and a printer have device drivers, and both of these systems come with a compact disc that contains the software code for replacing the device driver if it is lost.

It is necessary to load the program into your PC for the PC to recognize the new peripheral and interact with it to establish a connection. Although some modern systems do not require the user to go through the driver installation process, device drivers are essential for any computer.

Some online driver updater tools can also assist in finding drivers for various components without the need for additional technical knowledge – these are highly recommended for novice PC users.

 Types Of Device Drivers

A computer must have the needed device drivers for all of its components to keep the system working well. Therefore, manufacturers provide many device drivers from the start, and we can add any device driver that our system requires.

Let’s check the primary types of device drivers here:

 1: Kernel-Mode Device Driver

This kernel-mode device driver includes various generic hardware loaded with the operating system as part of the OS, such as the motherboard, BIOS, CPU, and other kernel-mode hardware.

These include the minimum system requirements for each operating system’s device drivers.

User programs do not link to the same libraries that kernel modules do.

The kernel module’s only function is to call those exposed to the kernel. Your driver will compile but fail to load if it references symbols that aren’t declared in the kernel.

 2: User-Mode Device Driver

Aside from the gadgets that the kernel brings for the system’s operation, the users also contribute some devices for usage when using the system.

These devices require device drivers to operate, and these drivers are classified as User mode device drivers. For example, a user may require any plug-and-play action that falls under this category.

User-mode drivers run in user mode and conduits between Win32 applications and kernel-mode drivers or other operating system components.

In Windows Vista, for example, all printer drivers run in user mode.

 3: Virtual Device Driver

Virtual device drivers (VxD) are also used to handle virtual devices.

Virtual drivers manage data flow from multiple applications used by different users to the same hardware when we use the same hardware virtually.

A virtual device driver simulates hardware and other devices so that numerous protected mode applications can access hardware resources, hardware interruption channels, and memory without generating conflicts.

The VxD has been deprecated in favor of the Windows Driver Model (WDM), so it is no longer a prominent device driver like the prior twos.

 The Bottom Line

Hence, the device drivers are commonly used in virtualization systems to imitate a physical device. Device drivers are part of the operating system’s kernel. The kernel is a component of the operating system that interacts directly with the system’s physical structure.

It proves that device drivers will always be an integral part of computer hardware. So, if you need more information on them, ping us in the comment section.

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