Writing Device Drivers - Plug and Play Basics

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by Steve Mastrianni

Included on IBM Developer Connection News Volume 6

The hardware changes necessary for an adapter to support Plug and Play (PnP) are relatively minor, with the parts costing a total of less than $5 per adapter. The actual hardware consists of a 72-bit shift register, some non-volatile memory, and some tri-state buffers. Use the 72-bit shift register to identify the particular adapter. The register contains 32 bits of vendor data, 32 bits of serial number and an 8-bit checksum. PnP adapters also contain several bytes of configuration data stored in non-volatile RAM. This data can be read and changed after you place the PnP card in the configuration state.

A special set of registers on each PnP adapter, contained in a PnP Applications Specific Integrated Circuit, or ASIC, provide access to PnP cards and resource data. Even though the ISA bus is not addressable, the PnP chipset provides for a method to isolate PnP cards on the bus, one at a time, until all cards have been identified. It does this by placing the adapter card in a low or high impedance mode, depending on the data written to the card and the contents of the LFSR on the adapter. Cards are isolated, selected, and configured, then placed in a high impedance mode. This allows one card to be selected and configured, then placed into a high impedance mode so that it will no longer take part in the iterative process of adapter isolation.

Two specific I/O ports have been reserved for PnP operation. The first is 0x279, which is actually the printer status port, normally a read-only register. The second is 0xa79, the printer status port +0x800. These two ports provide accessibility to the PnP hardware on each adapter using a special software sequence of reads and writes to these ports. Use a third port to read data from and write data to the card. This third port, however, is relocatable by the PnP isolation software. The PnP specification defines that this port should start at 0x203, but in practice, you should begin at 0x20B, since a standard joystick occupies the lower port addresses. All PnP register I/O is performed using 8-bit transfers; 16-bit transfers are not supported.

True Plug and Play support requires BIOS changes to detect and configure PnP cards at boot time. Newer machines with Flash BIOS should be easily modified; older machines with ROM BIOS are more difficult. Upon bootup, the BIOS performs the isolation sequence to ensure that the cards necessary for boot are enabled. It is assumed that those cards will always remain active. In most cases, this is accomplished by a single jumper or switch on the adapter card. Cards that are in the active state do not take part in the isolation sequence. If you insert a new card, the next time you turn the machine on, the BIOS should perform an auto-configuration sequence enabling the new card with acceptable settings.