ISA

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- Industry Standard Architecture, ISA may also refering to Instruction Set Architecture.

The Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus was created for the original IBM PC back in 1981. At that stage, it was an 8-bit, 5MHz bus (2.39MB/s), but was later upgraded to 16-bits at 8MHz (8.33MB/s). Today, the ISA bus is archaic and incredibly slow, but it is still commonly found in older machines, and many of the most common, basic devices are connected to it. For this reason, it is still supported by many operating systems. It is slowly being replaced by the Super I/O chip that is common amongst modern machines. For more information on the history and implementation details of the bus, visit the Wikipedia page on the subject.

Programming for the ISA bus

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Device Conflicts

There are broadly four types of resources that cause device conflicts (listed in the order problems are generally experienced):

  • Memory addresses.
  • IRQ channels.
  • DMA channels.
  • I/O port addresses.

Managing these resources becomes the responsibility of the operating system. Fortunately, Microsoft has created a standard called Plug-and-Play (PnP) that helps with this. Not all ISA cards support it, however, so some luck is required in that the person building the system has set the correct jumpers.

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