Introduction to NDIS Protocol Drivers
An NDIS protocol driver exports a set of ProtocolXxx functions at its lower edge. Such a protocol driver communicates with NDIS to send and receive network data. The protocol driver binds to an underlying miniport driver or intermediate driver that exports a MiniportXxx interface at its upper edge.
Note The miniport driver upper edge of an intermediate driver (virtual miniport) does not manage physical devices. Underlying miniport drivers manage physical devices.
Protocol drivers always use NDIS-provided functions to communicate with underlying NDIS drivers to send and receive network data. For example, a protocol driver that has a connectionless lower-edge (which communicates with underlying drivers for connectionless media, such as Ethernet) must call NdisSendNetBufferLists to send network data to an underlying NDIS driver. The protocol driver can call NdisOidRequest to query or set OIDs that underlying connectionless drivers support. A protocol driver that has a connection-oriented lower edge (which communicates with underlying drivers for connection-oriented media, such as ISDN) must call NdisCoSendNetBufferLists to send network data to a lower-level NDIS driver. It can also call NdisCoOidRequest to query or set OIDs that are supported by underlying connection-oriented drivers.
NDIS also provides a set of NdisXxx functions that hide the details of the underlying operating system. For example, a protocol driver can call NdisInitializeEvent to create an event for synchronization purposes and NdisInitializeListHead to create a linked list. Protocol drivers that use the NDIS versions of such functions are more portable across Microsoft operating systems. However, protocol drivers can also call kernel-mode support routines, such as IoCreateDevice. For more information, see Summary of Kernel-Mode Support Routines.
Developers of protocol drivers should use the same programming considerations that are applied to other NDIS drivers.