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Full-Screen VDMs in x86-based Machines

Last Updated: 2/14/2017

For performance reasons, when the user switches an MS-DOS application to full-screen mode in an x86-based machine, the display driver yields control of the adapter. The system VGA or a VGA-compatible miniport driver then hooks out from the V86 emulator all I/O instructions, such as application-issued IN, REP INSB/INSW/INSD, OUT, and REP OUTSB/OUTSW/OUTSD instructions, to the video I/O ports. These hooked I/O operations are forwarded to the VGA-compatible miniport driver's SvgaHwIoPortXxx functions.

However, for faster performance, a miniport driver can call VideoPortSetTrappedEmulatorPorts to allow some I/O ports to be accessed directly by the application. The miniport driver continues to hook other I/O ports with its SvgaHwIoPortXxx to validate the application-issued instruction stream to those ports.

To prevent a full-screen application from issuing a sequence of instructions that might hang the machine, the SvgaHwIoPortXxx functions monitor the application instruction stream to a driver-determined set of adapter registers. A miniport driver must enable direct access only to I/O ports that are completely safe. For example, ports for the sequencer and miscellaneous output registers should always be hooked by the V86 emulator and trapped to the miniport driver-supplied SvgaHwIoPortXxx functions for validation.

Direct access to I/O ports for the application is determined by the IOPM (named for the x86 I/O permission map) that the VGA-compatible miniport driver sets by calling VideoPortSetTrappedEmulatorPorts. Note that the miniport driver can adjust the IOPM by calling this function to have access ranges, describing I/O ports, released for direct access by the application or retrapped to an SvgaHwIoPortXxx function. The current IOPM determines which ports can be accessed directly by the application and which remain hooked by the V86 emulator and trapped to an SvgaHwIoPortXxx function for validation.

By default, all I/O ports set up in such a miniport driver's emulator access ranges array are trapped to the corresponding SvgaHwIoPortXxx function. However, VGA-compatible miniport drivers usually call VideoPortSetTrappedEmulatorPorts on receipt of an IOCTL_VIDEO_ENABLE_VDM request to reset the IOPM for the VDM to allow direct access to some of these I/O ports. Usually, such a driver allows direct access to all video adapter registers except the VGA sequencer registers and the miscellaneous output register, plus any SVGA adapter-specific registers that the driver writer has determined should always be validated by an SvgaHwIoPortXxx function.

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