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Unfortunately this process works correctly only if all devices in the computer are Plug and Play compliant. If you manually assign an IRQ address, for example, to a non-Plug and Play ISA card, install that card in the system, and then come back and install a Plug and Play card, the Plug and Play card may take the IRQ address manually assigned to the other card. It does this because the BIOS doesn’t know that the non-Plug and Play card exists. Some BIOSes allow you to enter the IRQ, I/O, and DMA addresses that are being used by non-Plug and Play cards. In this way, when a new Plug and Play card is inserted, the BIOS will be able to choose a setting that doesn’t conflict with any existing hardware.

Resource Conflicts

A resource conflict occurs when two devices are set to the same IRQ, I/O, or DMA address. It can (and does) happen with Plug and Play cards in a mixed (non-Plug and Play system) environment, as already mentioned. Additionally, most expansion cards (including NICs) are set by default to settings that other hardware device manufacturers aren’t using for their devices. For example, most sound cards are set, by default, to IRQ 5, I/O address 220h. Network cards are often set to IRQ 10, I/O address 300h.

NIC Drivers

A NIC driver provides a software interface between the NIC hardware and the host operating system. Normally, you’ll find a driver for the NIC you’re installing on a disk that came with the NIC. Sometimes, however, the driver for the NIC is included with the operating system.

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