Plug & Play : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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Plug & Play
Assigning port addresses, IRQs (Interrupt Requests) and DMA (Direct Memory Access) channels in a way that does not conflict is a black art. Often you don’t have full documentation. Every card has a different set of possible choices and different ways of telling it what to use. Plug & Play is a half-baked attempt to automate this process. The main problem is the legacy cards that don’t know the Plug & Play conventions. You have to manually nudge Plug & Play along. The other problem is software that expects long standing conventions to be adhered to. Plug & Play left to itself comes up with some eccentric assignments. Ironically, it can be harder to configure a system that is partly slippery-eel Plug & Play than one with none at all. Happily most Plug & Play devices allow the feature to be turned off and let you tell the devices which IRQ (Interrupt Request) s, address ports and DMA channels to use. Happily Windows-95 now has tools to help in detecting conflicts. Some day, all devices, including the motherboard will be 100% Plug & Play and the PC (Personal Computer) will finally evolve to the state the Apple Macintosh was a decade ago.

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