Streaming Minidrivers

Note This section details the outdated Stream.sys class driver. With the release of Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft supports Stream.sys only for existing drivers. As of this release, Microsoft recommends that vendors consider developing new video or audio/video multimedia drivers using the AVStream class driver model. See details in the AVStream Overview. If developing an audio-only driver, you should write an audio miniport driver under the Microsoft-provided Portcls.sys class driver. For details, see Audio Miniport Drivers.

Vendors can support video-only or audio/video devices by providing a minidriver that runs under the Microsoft-provided Stream.sys class driver. In this documentation, vendor-provided minidrivers under Stream.sys are referred to as streaming minidrivers.

For instance, video capture devices and DVD players can be supported with streaming minidrivers. For technology-specific information, see Video Capture Devices and DVD Decoder Minidrivers.

Streaming minidrivers support kernel streaming semantics. To use this document, driver developers should be familiar with basic kernel streaming concepts, as explained in Kernel Streaming.

The stream class driver is designed to make writing hardware drivers for streaming devices simpler by handling many of the aspects of interacting with the operating system.

  • The minidriver can allow the stream class driver to handle synchronization on its behalf. For example, the stream class driver can optionally serialize I/O requests for the minidriver. Allowing the class driver to handle synchronization makes the minidriver multiprocessor-safe but nonreentrant. This is suitable for low-end to medium-end hardware.

  • The class driver automatically synchronizes file operations. For example, the opening of a stream and a device are correctly serialized without the minidriver using mutexes, semaphores, or events.

  • The class driver abstracts the implementation of kernel streaming semantics from the minidriver.

  • The class driver handles all interaction with the PnP manager. For example:

    • The class driver creates the functional device object on the minidriver's behalf.
    • The class driver manages resource configuration (such as translating port addresses, translating and mapping memory ranges, and connecting interrupts).
    • The class driver handles PnP IRPs, such as IRP_MN_START_DEVICE, or IRP_MN_STOP_DEVICE.
  • All low-level buffer management is handled by the class driver:
    • Allocating DMA adapter object, if necessary.
    • Mapping buffers and building scatter/gather lists for DMA.
    • Locking and flushing buffers correctly for both DMA and PIO.
  • All IOCTL parameter validation is performed by the class driver.

  • All requests are timed by the class driver with a watchdog timer.

  • The minidriver does not create a device object, but shares the class driver's device object as necessary. This saves system resources.

  • Only one device object is created per adapter. Multiple subdevices (called streams) supported by the adapter are represented by kernel streaming pins.