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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Video Cards | Video Card Overview ]

The Video BIOS

Much the way the system BIOS provides a set of functions that are used by software programs to access the system hardware, the video BIOS provides a set of video-related functions that are used by programs to access the video hardware. The video BIOS interfaces software to the video chipset in the same way that the system BIOS does for the system chipset.

The functions in the video BIOS are matched to the system chipset, however the BIOS code itself can differ for different cards that use the same video chipset (the same way this can be the case for the system BIOS). In fact, many cards that use the same chipset differ primarily in software only: the video BIOS and the software drivers that use the BIOS.

Since BIOSes of different cards require different code to support them, software programming has become difficult due to the proliferation of cards on the market. VESA has put forth a standard for high-resolution BIOS code called the VESA BIOS Extensions (VBE). These can be implemented via hardware code or software drivers to allow more standardized control over the video.

Next: Video Memory (Frame Buffer)

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