Some Questions on Computer Hardware/Firmware

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Harvey Gratt, Jan 6, 2004.

  1. Harvey Gratt

    Harvey Gratt Guest

    Minimal response from the DELL Forum, so I'll try here.

    This started off as simple purchase of an external usb2 HDD, but has led
    me to ask a few questions pertaining to the relationships between the
    hardware and firmware.

    I would appreciate any help in obtaining some precise definitions and
    the relationships of the following "components". I will first state my
    conceptions and then would like to ask a few questions.

    1. "BIOS" - I assume this is a collection of firmware routines which are
    stored on the motherboard and provide the low level device driver
    support for various hardware components (i.e, CD Drives, USB, removable
    drives, etc). Furthermore the BIOS may be (obviously) upgraded either
    from within the OS or during a boot process (floppy drive).

    Is this essentially correct?

    2. "Chip set drivers" - My interpretation is that these are a set of
    firmware routines which reside in the various "chip" an/or real estate
    regions on the motherboard. These chip and/or "real estate" regions are
    essentially mini-processors in themselves and respond to commands coming
    from the low (intermediate??) level device drivers (BIOS and/or OS). As
    such, these entities execute code (firmware) which is stored within them
    in order to process the device diver commands. Furthermore, these chip
    set drivers may be loaded (upgraded) either from the OS and/or at boot
    time via CD. I assume these chip set drivers contol certain devices not
    covered in the BIOS, such as PCI buses, graphics, etc.

    Is this essentially correct?

    Can the chip set drivers be thought of as an "extension" of the BIOS?

    What, if any, is the relationship between the BIOS and chip set drivers?
    For example, does some usb support reside in the chip set as well as the

    3. "HAL" (Harware Abstraction Layer??) - My understanding is that this a
    functional layer in some OS that provide conversion from a "generic" or
    "functional" level of low level device driver support to the actual chip
    set dependent device driver code. This would seem to imply that a
    different HAL or part of the HAL is used for different chip sets.

    Is this essentially correct?

    What are the relationships and interdependencies between the BIOS, chip
    set drivers and HAL.

    I would appreciate any information which would help me get a better
    understanding of these "components"

    Finally, my original goal was to purchase a large capacity usb2 external
    HDD in order to store drive images for several computers. The idea was
    to to use bootable CD created from the imagaging software and directly
    restore the images without needing to restore an intermediate level of
    OS support. This would require that the HDD be accessible via usb2
    support during the boot process (before the OS is up). This led to the
    above questions

    Its not clear to me that this is possible for all OS - i.e, would my
    Dimension 8300, win xp pro be able to do this (I believe so)? Would my
    Inspiron 7500, win98se laptop be able to do this (I believe not).

    Harvey Gratt, Jan 6, 2004
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