In the world of computers, a device driver, commonly known as just driver, is a program that controls and operates a hardware device that’s connected to your computer. The device could be external that you connect manually, such as a USB stick, or internal, such as speakers.
The driver is a companion to all hardware devices that run on the software interface. It enables your computer’s operating system, and other computer programs to control the functions of the device without having to know the exact details of the device being used.
Let’s get into more detail:
What is a Driver?
In simple words, a driver is a small interpreter for your hardware devices. Your desktop computer or your laptop are essentially the governing body and all the different types of devices that exist along with your computer.
In the center of these subjects is the CPU, and the CPU is the main controller of all devices. It communicates with everything in straight math but your devices speak in foreign languages.
They are all expecting input from the CPU, but the CPU is unable to understand what the subjects are saying. So, instead of directly speaking to the CPU, your subjects speak through an interpreter. With the help of the interpreter, the CPU can understand its subjects and start to give commands to them.
The devices start to carry out whatever is commanded of them by the CPU with the help of these interpreters. These interpreters are the drivers and without the drivers your computer’s hardware devices cannot be functional and your CPU will get nothing done.
What Makes Up A Driver?
The driver is made of a file or a bunch of files that are written so that you’re CPU can interpret functions. Most of the times, like the terrible IDT driver, there are some applications that are part of the driver’s package.
The most important thing to remember is that every hardware on your computer has built-in identification that helps in classifying the vendor id, the device and any other subsystem information. The vendor ID helps identify who manufactured the device. The device ID helps identify the exact device made from that manufacturer.
The additional subsystem information outlines the revisions or sub series devices found within the hardware from the same vendor. When your operating system starts, it looks for plug and play devices. When and if there are new devices, it starts to identify the built-in IDs on the device.
With the help of theses IDs it asks you for the driver. The driver you provide your computer with, contains a written list of all devices that are compatible with it, as well as its compatibility with your operating system.
The operating system will then install the driver and start to work with it. If the driver is well written and compatible with your device, it will work flawlessly. If the driver is faulty, it either won’t install properly or it will have problems.
More often than not, your operating system already has devices built in for everything on your computer and you never have to deal with installation of drivers, unless you are using devices externally.