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NightBird

VESA

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Yes, i know dos and graphics ick, but anyways. I would like to know if there is a site/place where i can find just the base line info on how to set it up, and plot pixels? specifically i would like 640x480x16bit graphics, but anyways. Any and all help would be appreciated. thanks bye!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You could always use Allegro, it''s really easy to use.

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Yes, i know i could use allegro, i''ve used it before and it is nice, I would just like to do it on my own ^_^ you know, i want to reinvent the wheel as some would call it.
I would just like to figure out how some of this is done....thats all

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This is from a text file I have kicking around on my pc...


VESA Super VGA Standard
Video Electronics Standards Association
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2150 North First Street, Suite 360 Phone: (408) 435-0333
San Jose, CA 95131-2020 Fax: (408) 435-8225

Super VGA BIOS Extension
Standard #VS911022
October 22, 1991
Document Version 1.0
VBE Version 1.2

PURPOSE
~~~~~~~
To standardize a common software interface to Super VGA video adapters in order
to provide simplified software application access to advanced VGA products.

SUMMARY
~~~~~~~
The standard provides a set of functions which an application program can use
to A) obtain information about the capabilities and characteristics of a
specific Super VGA implementation and B) to control the operation of such
hardware in terms of video mode initialization and video memory access. The
functions are provided as an extension to the VGA BIOS video services, accessed
through interrupt 10h.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-2

Contents
~~~~~~~~
1. Introduction ................................................. Page 3

2. Goals and Objectives ......................................... 4
2.1 Video environment information ........................ 4
2.2 Programming support .................................. 4
2.3 Compatibility ........................................ 5
2.4 Scope of standard .................................... 5

3. Standard VGA BIOS ............................................ 6

4. Super VGA Mode Numbers ....................................... 7

5. CPU Video Memory Control ..................................... 9
5.1 Hardware design consideration ........................ 9
5.1.1 Limited to 64k/128k of CPU address space ..... 9
5.1.2 Crossing CPU video memory window boundaries .. 10
5.1.3 Operating on data frolm different areas ...... 10
5.1.4 Combining data from two different windows .... 10
5.2 Different types of hardware windows .................. 11
5.2.1 Single window systems ........................ 11
5.2.2 Dual window systems .......................... 11

6. Extended VGA BIOS ............................................ 12
6.1 Status Information ................................... 12
6.2 00h - Return Super VGA Information ................... 12
6.3 01h - Return Super VGA mode information .............. 14
6.4 02h - Set Super VGA mode ............................. 20
6.5 03h - Return Super VGA mode .......................... 20
6.6 04h - Save/restore Super VGA video state ............. 21
6.7 05h - Super VGGA video memory window control ......... 22
6.8 06h - Set/Get Logical Scan Line Length ............... 23
6.9 07h - Set/Get Display Start .......................... 24
6.10 08h - Set/Get DAC Palette Control .................... 25

7. Application Example .......................................... 26

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-3

1. Introduction
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This document contains a specification for a standardized interface to extended
VGA video modes and functions. The specification consists of mechanisms for
supporting standard extended video modes and functions that have been approved
by the main VESA committee and non-standard video modes that an individual VGA
supplier may choose to add, in a uniform manner that application software can
utilize without having to understand the intricate details of the particular VGA
hardware.

The primary topics of this specification are definitions of extended VGA video
modes and the functions necessary for application software to understand the
characteristics of the video mode and manipulate the extended memory associated
with the video mode.

Readers of this document should already be familiar with programming VGAs at the
hardware level and Intel iAPX real mode assembly language. Readers who are
unfamiliar with programming the VGA should first read one of the many VGA
programming tutorials before attempting to understand these extensions to the
standard VGA.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-4

2. Goals and Objectives
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The IBM VGA has become a defacto standard in the PC graphics world. A multitude
of different VGA offerings exist in the marketplace, each one providing BIOS or
register compatibility with the IBM VGA. More and more of these VGA compatible
products implements various supersets of the VGA standard. These extensions
range from higher resolutions and more colors to improved performance and even
some graphics processing capabilities. Intense competition has dramatically
improved the price/performance ratio, to the benefit of the end user.

However, several serious problems face a software developer who intends to take
advantage of these "Super VGA" environments. Because there is no standard
hardware implementation, the developer is faced with widely disparate Super VGA
hardware architectures. Lacking a common software interface, designing
applications for these environments is costly and technically difficult. Except
for applications supported by OEM-specific display drivers, very few software
packages can take advantage of the power and capabilities of Super VGA products.

The purpose of the VESA VGA BIOS Extension is to remedy this situation. Being a
common software interface to Super VGA graphics products, the primary objective
is to enable application and system software to adapt to and exploit the wide
range of features available in these VGA extensions.

Specifically, the VESA BIOS Extension attempts to address the following issues:
A) Return information about the video environment to the application, and B)
Assist the application in initializing and programming the hardware.

2.1 Video environment information

Today, an application has no standard mechanism to determine what Super VGA
hardware it is running on. Only by knowing OEM-specific features can an
application determine the presence of a particular video board. This often
involves reading and testing registers located at I/O addresses unique to each
OEM. By not knowing what hardware an application is running on, few, if any, of
the extended features of the underlying hardware can be used.

The VESA BIOS Extension provides several functions to return information about
the video environment. These functions return system level information as well
as video mode specific details. Function 00h returns general system level
information, including an OEM identification string. The function also returns
a pointer to the supported video modes. Function 01h may be used by the
application to obtain information about each supported video mode. Function 03h
returns the current video mode.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-5

2.2 Programming support

Due to the fact that different Super VGA products have different hardware
implementations, application software has great difficulty in adapting to each
environment. However, since each is based on the VGA hardware architecture,
differences are most common in video mode initialization and memory mapping.
The rest of the architecture is usually kept intact, including I/O mapped
registers, video buffer location in the CPU address space, DAC location and
function, etc.

The VESA BIOS Extension provides several functions to interface to the different
Super VGA hardware implementations. The most important of these is Function
02h, Set Super VGA video mode. This function isolates the application from the
tedious and complicated task of setting up a video mode. Function 05h provides
an interface to the underlying memory mapping hardware. Function 04h enables an
application to save and restore a Super VGA state without knowing anything of
the specific implementation.

2.3 Compatibility

A primary design objective of the VESA BIOS Extension is to preserve maximum
compatibility to the standard VGA environment. In no way should the BIOS
extensions compromise compatibility or performance. Another but related concern
is to minimiza the changes necessary to an existing VGA BIOS. Ram, as well as
ROM-based implementations of the BIOS extension should be possible.

2.4 Scope of standard

The purpose of the VESA BIOS Extension is to provide support for extended VGA
environments. Thus, the underlying hardware architecture is assumed to be a
VGA. Graphics software that drives a Super VGA board will perform its graphics
output in generally the same way it drives a standard VGA, i.e. writing directly
to a VGA style frame buffer, manipulating graphics controller registers,
directly programming the palette, etc. No significant graphics processing will
be done in hardware. For this reason, the VESA BIOS Extension does not provide
any graphics output functions, such as BitBlt, line or circle drawing, etc.

An important constraint of the functionalities that can be placed into the VESA
BIOS Extension is that ROM space is severely limited in certain existing BIOS
implementations.

Outside the scope of this VESA BIOS Extension is the handling of different
monitors and monitor timings. Such items are dealt with in other VESA fora.
The purpose of the VESA BIOS Extension is to provide a standardized software
interface to Super VGA graphics modes, independent of monitor and monitor timing
issues.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-6

3. Standard VGA BIOS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A primary design goal with the VESA BIOS Extension is to minimize the effects on
the standard VGA BIOS. Standard VGA BIOS functions should need to be modified
as little as possible. This is important since ROM, as well as RAM based
versions of the extensions, may be implemented.

However, two standard VGA BIOS functions are affected by the VESA extension.
These are Function 00h (Set video mode) and Function 0Fh (Read current video
state). VESA-aware applications will not set the video mode using VGA BIOS
function 00h. Nor will such applications use VGA BIOS function 0Fh. VESA BIOS
functions 02h (Set Super VGA mode) and 03h (Get Super VGA mode) will be used
instead.

However, VESA-unaware applications (such as old Pop-Up programs and other TSRs,
or the CLS command of MS-DOS), might use VGA BIOS function 0Fh to get the
present video mode. Later it may call VGA BIOS function 00h to
restore/reinitialize the old video mode.

To make such applications work, VESA recommends that whatever value returned by
VGA BIOS function 0Fh (it is up to the OEM to define this number) should be used
to reinitialize the video mode through VGA BIOS function 00h. Thus, the BIOS
should keep track of the last Super VGA mode in effect.

It is recommended, but not mandatory, to support output functions (such as
TTY-output, scroll, set pixel, etc.) in Super VGA modes. If the BIOS extension
doesn''t support such output functions, bit D2 (Output functions supported) of
the ModeAttributes field (returned by VESA BIOS function 01h) should be clear.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-7

4. Super VGA mode numbers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Standard VGA mode numbers are 7 bits wide and presently range from 00h to 13h.
OEMs have defined extended video modes in the range 14h to 7Fh. Values in the
range 80h to FFh cannot be used, since VGA BIOS function 00h (Set video mode)
interprets bit 7 as a flag to clear/not clear video memory.

Due to the limitations of 7 bit mode numbers, VESA video mode numbers are 15
bits wide. To initialize a Super VGA mode, its number is passed in the BX
register to VESA BIOS function 02h (Set Super VGA mode).

The format of VESA mode numbers is as follows:

D0-D8 = Mode number
If D8 == 0, this is not a VESA defined mode
If D8 == 1, this is a VESA defined mode
D9-D14 = Reserved by VESA for future expansion (= 0)
D15 = Reserved (= 0)

Thus, VESA mode numbers begin at 100h. This mode numbering scheme implements
standard VGA mode numbers as well as OEM-defined mode numbers as subsets of the
VESA mode number. That means that regular VGA modes may be initialized through
VESA BIOS function 02h (Set Super VGA mode), simply by placing the mode number
in BL and clearing the upper byte (BH). OEM-defined modes may be initialized in
the same way.

To date, VESA has defined a 7-bit video mode number, 6Ah, for the 800x600,
16-color, 4-plane graphics mode. The corresponding 15-bit mode number for this
mode is 102h.

The following VESA mode numbers have been defined:

GRAPHICS TEXT

15-bit 7-bit Resolution Colors 15-bit 7-bit Columns Rows
mode mode mode mode
number number number number
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
100h - 640x400 256 108h - 80 60
101h - 640x480 256
109h - 132 25
102h 6Ah 800x600 16 10Ah - 132 43
103h - 800x600 256 10Bh - 132 50
10Ch - 132 60
104h - 1024x768 16
105h - 1024x768 256

106h - 1280x1024 16
107h - 1280x1024 256

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-8

10Dh - 320x200 32K (1:5:5:5)
10Eh - 320x200 64K (5:6:5)
10Fh - 320x200 16.8M (8:8:8)
110h - 640x480 32K (1:5:5:5)
111h - 640x480 64K (5:6:5)
112h - 640x480 16.8M (8:8:8)
113h - 800x600 32K (1:5:5:5)
114h - 800x600 64K (5:6:5)
115h - 800x600 16.8M (8:8:8)
116h - 1024x768 32K (1:5:5:5)
117h - 1024x768 64K (5:6:5)
118h - 1024x768 16.8M (8:8:8)
119h - 1280x1024 32K (1:5:5:5)
11Ah - 1280x1024 64K (5:6:5)
11Bh - 1280x1024 16.8M (8:8:8)

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-9

5. CPU Video Memory Windows
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A standard VGA sub-system provides 256k bytes of memory and a corresponding
mechanism to address this memory. Super VGAs and their modes require more than
the standard 256k bytes of memory but also require that the address space for
this memory be restricted to the standard address space for compatibility
reasons. CPU video memory windows provide a means of accessing this extended
VGA memory within the standard CPU address space.

This chapter describes how several hardware implementations of CPU video memory
windows operate, their impact on application software design, and relates them
to the software model presented by the VESA VGA BIOS extensions.

The VESA CPU video memory windows functions have been designed to put the
performance insensitive, non-standard hardware functions into the BIOS while
putting the performance sensitive, standard hardware functions into the
application. This provides portability among VGA systems together with the
performance that comes from accessing the hardware directly. In particular, the
VESA BIOS is responsible for mapping video memory into the CPU address space
while the application is responsible for performing the actual memory read and
write operations.

This combination software and hardware interface is accomplished by informing
the application of the parameters that control the hardware mechanism of mapping
the video memory into the CPU address space and then letting the application
control the mapping within those parameters.

5.1 Hardware
5.1.1 Limited to 64k/128k of CPU address space

The first consideration in implementing extended video memory is to give access
to the memory to application software.

The standard VGA CPU address space for 16 color graphics modes is typically at
segment A000h for 64k. This gives access to the 256k bytes of a standard VGA,
i.e. 64k per plane. Access to the extended video memory is accomplished by
mapping portions of the video memory into the standard VGA CPU address space.

Every Super VGA hardware implementation provides a mechanism for software to
specify the offset from the start of video memory which is to be mapped to the
start of the CPU address space. Providing both read and write access to the
mapped memory provides a necessary level of hardware support for an application
to manipulate the extended video memory.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-10

5.1.2 Crossing CPU video memory window boundaries

The organization of most software algorithms which perform video operations
consists of a pair of nested loops: and outer loop over rows or scan lines and
an inner loop across the row or scan line. The latter is the proverbial inner
loop, which is the bottle neck to high performance software.

If a target rectangle is large enough, or poorly located, part of the required
memory may be with within the video memory mapped into the CPU address space and
part of it may not be addressable by the CPU without changing the mapping. It
is desirable that the test for remapping the video memory is located outside of
the inner loop.

This is typically accomplished by selecting the mapping offset of the start of
video memory to the start of the CPU address space so that at least one entire
row or scan line can be processed without changing the video memory mapping.
There are currently no Super VGAs that allow this offset to be specified on a
byte boundary and there is a wide range among Super VGAs in the ability to
position a desired video memory location at the start of the CPU address space.

The number of bytes between the closest two bytes in video memory that can be
placed on any single CPU address is defined as the granularity of the window
function. Some Super VGA systems allow any 4k video memory boundary to be
mapped to the start of the CPY address space, while other Super VGA systems
allow any 64k video memory boundary to be mapped to the start of the CPU address
space. These two example systems would have granularities of 4k and 64k,
respectively. This concept is very similar to the bytes that can be accessed
with a 16 bit pointer in an Intel CPU before a segment register must be changed
(the granularity of the segment register or mapping here is 16 bytes).

Notes
~~~~~
If the granularity is equal to the length of the CPU address space, i.e. the
least significant address bit of the hardware mapping function is more
significant than the most significant bit of the CPU address, then the inner
loop will have to contain the test for crossing the end or beginning of the CPU
address space. This is because if the length of the CPU address space (which is
the granularity in this case) is not evenly divisible by the length of a scan
line, then the scan line at the end of the CPU address will be in two different
video memory which cannot be mapped into the CPU address space simultaneously.

5.1.3 Operating on data from different areas

It is sometimes required or convenient to move or combine data from two
different areas of video memory. One example of this is storing menus in the
video memory beyond the displayed memory because there is hardware support in
all VGAs for transferring 32 bits of video data with an 8 bit CPU read and
write. Two separately mappable CPU video memory windows must be used if the
distance between the source and destination is larger than the size of the CPU
video memory window.

5.1.4 Combining data from two different windows

The above example of moving data from one CPU video memory window to another CPU
video memory only required read access to one window and only required write
access to the other window. Sometimes it is convenient to have read access to
both windows and write access to one window. An example of this would be a
raster operation where the resulting destination is the source data logically
combined with the original destination data.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-11

5.2 Different types of hardware windows

Different hardware implementations of CPU video memory windows can be supported
by the VESA BIOS extension. The information necessary for an application to
understand the type of hardware implementation is provided by the BIOS to the
application. There are three basic types of hardware windowing implementations
and they are described below.

The types of windowing schemes described below do not include differences in
granularity.

Also note that is possible for a VGA to use a CPU address space of 128k starting
at segment A000h.

5.2.1 Single window systems

Some hardware implementations only provide a single window. This single window
will be readable as well as writeable. However, this causes a significant
performance degradation when moving data in video memory a distance that is
larger than the CPU address space.

5.2.2 Dual window systems

Many Super VGAs provide two windows to facilitate moving data within video
memory. There are two separate methods of providing two windows.

5.2.2.1 Overlapping windows

Some hardware implementations distinguish window A and window B by determining
if the CPU is attempting to do a memory read or a memory write operation. When
the two windows are distinguished by whether the CPU is trying to read or write
they can, and usually do, share the same CPU address space. However, one window
will be read only and the other will be write only.

5.2.2.2 Non-overlapping windows

Another mechanism used by two window systems to distinguish window A and window
B is by looking at the CPU address within the total VGA CPU address space. When
the two windows are distinguished by the CPU address within the VGA CPU address
space the windows cannot share the same address space, but they can each be both
read and written.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-12

6. Extended VGA BIOS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Several new BIOS calls have been defined to support Super VGA modes. For
maximum compatibility with the standard VGA BIOS, these calls are grouped under
one function number. This number is passed in the AH register to the INT 10h
handler.

The designated Super VGA extended function number is 4Fh. This function number
is presently unused in most, if not all, VGA BIOS implementations. A standard
VGA BIOS performs no action when function call 4Fh is made. Super VGA Standard
VS900602 defines subfunctions 00h through 07h. Subfunction numbers 08h through
0FFh are reserved for future use.

6.1 Status Information

Every function returns status information in the AX register. The format of the
status word is as follows:

AL == 4Fh: Function is supported
Al != 4Fh: Function is not supported
AH == 00h: Function call successful
AH == 01h: Function call failed

Software should treat a non-zero value in the AH register as a general failure
condition. In later versions of the VESA BIOS Extension new error codes might
be defined.

6.2 Function 00h - Return Super VGA Information

The purpose of this function is to provide information to the calling program
about the general capabilities of the Super VGA environment. The function fills
an information block structure at the address specified by the caller. The
information block size is 256 bytes.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 00h Return Super VGA information
ES:DI = Pointer to buffer

Output: AX = Status
(All other registers are preserved)

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-13

The information block has the following structure:

VgaInfoBlock STRUC
VESASignature db ''VESA'' ; 4 signature bytes
VESAVersion dw ? ; VESA version number
OEMStringPtr dd ? ; Pointer to OEM string
Capabilities db 4 dup(?) ; capabilities of the video environment
VideoModePtr dd ? ; pointer to supported Super VGA modes
TotalMemory dw ? ; Number of 64kb memory blocks on board
Reserved db 236 dup(?) ; Remainder of VgaInfoBlock
VgaInfoBlock ENDS

The VESASignature field contains the characters ''VESA'' if this is a valid block.

The VESAVersion is a binary field which specifies what level of the VESA
standard the Super VGA BIOS conforms to. The higher byte specifies the major
version number. The lower byte specifies the minor version number. The current
VESA version number is 1.2. Applications written to use the features of a
specific version of the VESA BIOS Extension, are guaranteed to work in later
versions. The VESA BIOS Extension will be fully upwards compatible.

The OEMStringPtr is a far pointer to a null terminated OEM-defined string. The
string may used to identify the video chip, video board, memory configuration,
etc. to hardware specific display drivers. There are no restrictions on the
format of the string.

The Capabilities field describes what general features are supported in the
video environment. The bits are defined as follows:

D0 = DAC is switchable
0 = DAC is fixed width, with 6-bits per primary color
1 = DAC width is switchable
D1-31 = Reserved

The VideoModePtr points to a list of supported Super VGA (VESA-defined as well
as OEM-specific) mode numbers. Each mode number occupies one word (16 bits).
The list of mode numbers is terminated by a -1 (0FFFFh). Please refer to
chapter 2 for a description of VESA mode numbers. The pointer could point into
either ROM or RAM, depending on the specific implementation. Either the list
would be a static string stored in ROM, or the list would be generated at
run-time in the information block (see above) in RAM. It is the application''s
responsibility to verify the current availability of any mode returned by this
Function through the Return Super VGA mode information (Function 1) call. Some
of the returned modes may not be available due to the video board''s current
memory and monitor configuration.

The TotalMemory field indicates the amount of memory installed on the VGA
board. Its value represents the number of 64kb blocks of memory currently
installed.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-14

6.3 Function 01h - Return Super VGA mode information

This function returns information about a specific Super VGA video mode that was
returned by Function 0. The function fills a mode information block structure
at the address specified by the caller. The mode information block size is
maximum 256 bytes.

Some information provided by this function is implicitly defined by the VESA
mode number. However, some Super VGA implementations might support other video
modes than those defined by VESA. To provide access to these modes, this
function also returns various other information about the mode.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 01h Return Super VGA mode information
CX = Super VGA video mode
(mode number must be one of those returned by Function 0)
ES:DI = Pointer to 256 byte buffer

Output: AX = Status
(All other registers are preserved)

The mode information block has the following structure:

ModeInfoBlock STRUC

; mandatory information

ModeAttributes dw ? ; mode attributes
WinAAttributes db ? ; window A attributes
WinBAttributes db ? ; window B attributes
WinGranularity dw ? ; window granularity
WinSize dw ? ; window size
WinASegment dw ? ; window A start segment
WinBSegment dw ? ; window B start segment
WinFuncPtr dd ? ; pointer to windor function
BytesPerScanLine dw ? ; bytes per scan line

; formerly optional information (now mandatory)

XResolution dw ? ; horizontal resolution
YResolution dw ? ; vertical resolution
XCharSize db ? ; character cell width
YCharSize db ? ; character cell height
NumberOfPlanes db ? ; number of memory planes
BitsPerPixel db ? ; bits per pixel
NumberOfBanks db ? ; number of banks
MemoryModel db ? ; memory model type
BankSize db ? ; bank size in kb
NumberOfImagePages db ? ; number of images
Reserved db 1 ; reserved for page function

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-15

; new Direct Color fields

RedMaskSize db ? ; size of direct color red mask in bits
RedFieldPosition db ? ; bit position of LSB of red mask
GreenMaskSize db ? ; size of direct color green mask in bits
GreenFieldPosition db ? ; bit position of LSB of green mask
BlueMaskSize db ? ; size of direct color blue mask in bits
BlueFieldPosition db ? ; bit position of LSB of blue mask
RsvdMaskSize db ? ; size of direct color reserved mask in bits
DirectColorModeInfo db ? ; Direct Color mode attributes
Reserved db 216 dup(?) ; remainder of ModeInfoBlock
ModeInfoBlock ENDS

The ModeAttributes field describes certain important characteristics of the
video mode. Bit D0 specifies whether this mode can be initialized in the
present video configuration. This bit can be used to block access to a video
mode if it requires a certain monitor type, and that this monitor is presently
not connected. Prior to Version 1.2 of the VESA BIOS Extension, it was not
required that the BIOS return valid information for the fields after
BytesPerScanline. Bit D1 was used to signify if the optional information was
present. Version 1.2 of the VBE requires that all fields of the ModeInfoBlock
contain valid data, except for the Direct Color fields, which are valid only if
MemoryModel field is set to a 6 (Direct Color) or 7 (YUV). Bit D1 is now
reserved, and must be set to a 1. Bit D2 indicates whether the BIOS has support
for output functions like TTY output, scroll, pixel output, etc. in this mode
(it is recommended, but not mandatory, that the BIOS have support for all output
functions). If bit D2 is 1 then the BIOS must support all of the standard
output functions.

The field is defined as follows:

D0 = Mode supported in hardware
0 = Mode not supported in hardware
1 = Mode supported in hardware
D1 = 1 (Reserved)
D2 = Output functions supported by BIOS
0 = Output functions not supported by BIOS
1 = Output functions supported by BIOS
D3 = Monochrome/color mode (see note below)
0 = Monochrome mode
1 = Color mode
D4 = Mode type
0 = Text mode
1 = Graphics mode
D5-D15 = Reserved

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-16

Note: Monochrome modes have their CRTC address at 3B4h. Color modes have their
CRTC address at 3D4h. Monochrome modes have attributes in which only bit 3
(video) and bit 4 (intensity) of the attribute controller output are
significant. Therefore, monochrome text modes have attributes of off, video,
high intensity, blink, etc. Monochrome graphics modes are two plane graphics
modes and have attributes of off, video, high intensity, and blink. Extended
two color modes that have their CRTC address at 3D4h are color modes with one
bit per pixel and one plane. The standard VGA modes 06h and 11h would be
classified as color modes, while the standard VGA modes 07h and 0Fh would be
classified as monochrome modes.

The BytesPerScanline field specifies how many bytes each logical scanline
consists of. The logical scanline could be equal to or larger then the
displayed scanline.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-17

The WinAAttributes and WinBAttributes describe the characteristics of the CPU
windowing scheme such as whether the windows exist and are read/writeable, as
follows:

D0 = Window supported
0 = Window is not supported
1 = Window is supported
D1 = Window readable
0 = Window is not readable
1 = Window is readable
D2 = Window writeable
0 = Window is not writeable
1 = Window is writeable
D3-D7 = Reserved

If windowing is not supported (bit D0 = 0 for both Window A and Window B), then
an application can assume that the display memory buffer resides at the standard
CPU address appropriate for the MemoryModel of the mode.

WinGranularity specifies the smallest boundary, in KB, on which the window can
be placed in the video memory. The value of this field is undefined if Bit D0
of the appropriate WinAttributes field is not set.

WinSize specifies the size of the window in KB.

WinASegment and WinBSegment address specify the segment addresses where the
windows are located in CPU address space.

WinFuncAddr specifies the address of the CPU video memory windowing function.
The windowing function can be invoked either through VESA BIOS function 05h, or
by calling the function directly. A direct call will provide faster access to
the hardware paging registers than using Int 10h, and is intended to be used by
high performance applications. If this field is Null, then Function 05h must be
used to set the memory window, if paging is supported.

The XResolution and YResolution specify the width and height of the video mode.
In graphics modes, this resolution is in units of pixels. In text modes, this
resolution is in units of characters. Note that text mode resolutions, in units
of pixels, can be obtained by multiplying XResolution and YResolution by the
cell width and height, if the extended information is present.

The XCharCellSize and YCharSellSize specify the size of the character cell in
pixels.

The NumberOfPlanes field specifies the number of memory planes available to
software in that mode. For standard 16-color VGA graphics, this would be set to
4. For standard packed pixel modes, the field would be set to 1.

The BitsPerPixel field specifies the total number of bits that define the color
of one pixel. For example, a standard VGA 4 Plane 16-color graphics mode would
have a 4 in this field and a packed pixel 256-color graphics mode would specify
8 in this field. The number of bits per pixel per plane can normally be derived
by dividing the BitsPerPixel field by the NumberOfPlanes field.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-18

The MemoryModel field specifies the general type of memory organization used in
this mode. The following models have been defined:

00h = Text mode
01h = CGA graphics
02h = Hercules graphics
03h = 4-plane planar
04h = Packed pixel
05h = Non-chain 4, 256 color
06h = Direct Color
07h = YUV
08h-0Fh = Reserved, to be defined by VESA
10h-FFh = To be defined by OEM

In Version 1.1 and earlier of the VESA Super VGA BIOS Extension, OEM defined
Direct Color video modes with pixel formats 1:5:5:5, 8:8:8, and 8:8:8:8 were
described as a Packed Pixel model with 16, 24, and 32 bits per pixel,
respectively. In Version 1.2 and later of the VESA Super VGA BIOS Extension, it
is recommended that Direct Color modes use the Direct Color MemoryModel and use
the MaskSize and FieldPosition fields of the ModeInfoBlock to describe the pixel
format. BitsPerPixel is always defined to be the total memory size of the
pixel, in bits.

The NumberOfBanks field specifies the number of banks in which the scan lines
are grouped. The remainder from dividing the scan line number by the number of
banks is the bank that contains the scan line and the quotient is the scan line
number within the bank. For example, CGA graphics modes have two banks and
Hercules graphics mode has four banks. For modes that don''t have scanline banks
(such as VGA modes 0Dh-13h), this field should be set to 1.

The BankSize field specifies the size of a bank (group of scan lines) in units
of 1KB. For CGA and Hercules graphics modes this is 8, as each bank is 8192
bytes in length. For modes that don''t have scanline banks (such as VGA modes
0Dh-13h), this field should be set to 0.

The NumberOfImagePages field specifies the number of additional complete display
images that will fit into the VGA''s memory, at one time, in this mode. The
application may load more than one image into the VGA''s memory if this field is
non-zero, and flip the display between them.

The Reserved field has been defined to support a future VESA BIOS extension
feature and will always be set to one in this version.

The RedMaskSize, GreenMaskSize, BlueMaskSize, and RsvdMaskSize fields define the
size, in bits, of the red, green, and blue components of a direct color pixel.
A bit mask can be constructed from the MaskSize fields using simple shift
arithmetic. For example, the MaskSize values for a Direct Color 5:6:5 mode
would be 5, 6, 5, and 0, for the red, green, blue, and reserved fields,
respectively. Note that in the YUV MemoryModel, the red field is used for V,
the green field is used for Y, and the blue field is used for U. The MaskSize
fields should be set to 0 in modes using a MemoryModel that does not have pixels
with component fields.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-19

The RedFieldPosition, GreenFieldPosition, BlueFieldPosition, and
RsvdFieldPosition fields define the bit position within the direct color pixel
or YUV pixel of the least significant bit of the respective color component. A
color value can be aligned with its pixel field by shifting the value left by
the FieldPosition. For example, the FieldPosition values for a Direct Color
5:6:5 mode would be 11, 5, 0, and 0, for the red, green, blue, and reserved
fields, respectively. Note that in the YUV MemoryModel, the red field is used
for V, the green field is used for Y, and the blue field is used for U. The
FieldPosition fields should be set to 0 in modes using a MemoryModel that does
not have pixels with component fields.

The DirectColorModeInfo field describes important characteristics of direct
color modes. Bit D0 specifies whether the color ramp of the DAC is fixed or
programmable. If the color ramp is fixed, then it can not be changed. If the
color ramp is programmable, it is assumed that the red, green, and blue lookup
tables can be loaded using a standard VGA DAC color registers BIOS call
(AX=1012h). Bit D1 specifies whether the bits in the Rsvd field of the direct
color pixel can be used by the application or are reserved, and thus unusable.

D0 = Color ramp is fixed/programmable
0 = Color ramp is fixed
1 = Color ramp is programmable
D1 = Bits in Rsvd field are usable/reserved
0 = Bits in Rsvd field are reserved
1 = Bits in Rsvd field are usable by the application

Notes
~~~~~
Version 1.1 and later VESA BIOS extensions will zero out all unused fields in
the Mode Information Block, always returning exactly 256 bytes. This
facilitates upward compatibility with future versions of the standard, as any
newly added fields will be designed such that values of zero will indicate
nominal defaults or non-implementation of optional features (for example, a
field containing a bit-mask of extended capabilities would reflect the absence
of all such capabilities). Applications that wish to be backwards compatible to
Version 1.0 VESA BIOS extensions should pre-initialize the 256 byte buffer
before calling Return Super VGA mode information.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-20

6.4 Function 02h - Set Super VGA video mode

This function initializes a video mode. The BX register contains the mode to
set. The format of VESA mode numbers is described in chapter 2. If the mode
cannot be set, the BIOS should leave the video environment unchanged and return
a failure error code.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 02h Set Super VGA video mode
BX = Video mode
D0-D14 = Video mode
D15 = Clear memory flag
0 = Clear video memory
1 = Don''t clear video memory

Output: AX = Status
(All other registers are preserved)

6.5 Function 03h - Return current video mode

This function returns the current video mode in BX. The format of VESA video
mode numbers is described in chapter 2 of this document.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 03h Return current video mode

Output: AX = Status
BX = Current video mode
(All other registers are preserved)

Notes
~~~~~
In a standard VGA BIOS, function 0Fh (Read current video state) returns the
current video mode in the AL register. In D7 of AL, it also returns the status
of the memory clear bit (D7 of 40:87). This bit is set if the mode was set
without clearing memory. In this Super VGA function, the memory clear bit will
not be returned in BX since the purpose of the function is to return the video
mode only. If an application wants to obtain the memory clear bit, it should
call VGA BIOS function 0Fh.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-21

6.6 Function 04h - Save/Restore Super VGA video state

These functions provide a mechanism to save and restore the Super VGA video
state. The functions are a superset of the three subfunctions under standard
VGA BIOS function 1Ch (Save/restore video state). The complete Super VGA video
state (except video memory) should be saveable/restoreable by setting the
requested states mask (in the CX register) to 000Fh.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 04h Save/restore Super VGA video state
DL = 00h Return save/restore state buffer size
CX = Requested states
D0 = Save/restore video hardware state
D1 = Save/restore video BIOS data state
D2 = Save/restore video DAC state
D3 = Save/restore Super VGA state

Output: AX = Status
BX = Number of 64-byte blocks to hold the state buffer
(All other registers are preserved)


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 04h Save/restore Super VGA video state
DL = 01h Save Super VGA video state
CX = Requested states (see above)
ES:BX = Pointer to buffer

Output: AX = Status
(All other registers are preserved)


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 04h Save/restore Super VGA video state
DL = 02h Restore Super VGA video state
CX = Requested states (see above)
ES:BX = Pointer to buffer

Output: AX = Status
(All other registers are preserved)

Notes
~~~~~
Due to the goal of complete compatibility with the VGA environment, the standard
VGA BIOS function 1Ch (Save/restore VGA state) has not been extended to save the
Super VGA video state. VGA BIOS compatibility requires that function 1Ch
returns a specific buffer size with specific contents, in which there is no room
for the Super VGA state.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-22

6.7 Function 05h - CPU Video Memory Window Control

This function sets or gets the position of the specified window in the video
memory. The function allows direct access to the hardware paging registers. To
use this function properly, the software should use VESA BIOS Function 01h
(Return Super VGA mode information) to determine the size, location, and
granularity of the windows.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 05h Super VGA video memory window control
BH = 00h Select Super VGA video memory window
BL = Window number
0 = Window A
1 = Window B
DX = Window position in video memory
(in window granularity units)

Output: AX = Status
(See notes below)


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 05h Super VGA video memory window control
BH = 01h Return Super VGA video memory window
BL = Window number
0 = Window A
1 = Window B

Output: AX = Status
DX = Window position in video memory
(in window granularity units)
(See notes below)

Notes
~~~~~
This function is also directly accessible through a far call from the
application. The address of the BIOS function may be obtained by using VESA
BIOS Function 01h, Return Super VGA mode information. A field in the
ModeInfoBlock contains the address of this function. Note that this function
may be different among video modes in a particular BIOS implementation, so the
function pointer should be obtained after each set mode.

In the far call version, no status information is returned to the application.
Also, the AX and DX registers will be destroyed. Therefore, if AX and/or DX
must be preserved, the application must do so priot to making the far call.

The application must load the input arguments in BH, BL, and DX (for set window)
but does not need to load either AH or AL in order to use the far call version
of this function.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-23

6.8 Function 06h - Set/Get Logical Scan Line Length

This function sets or gets the length of a logical scan line. This function
allows an application to set up a logical video memory buffer that is wider than
the displayed area. Function 07h then allows the application to set the
starting position that is to be displayed.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 06h Logical Scan Line Length
BL = 00h Select Scan Line Length
CX = Desired width in pixels

Output: AX = Status
BX = Bytes Per Scan Line
CX = Actual Pixels Per Scan Line
DX = Maximum Number of Scan Lines


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 06h Logical Scan Line Length
BL = 01h Return Scan Line Length

Output: AX = Status
BX = Bytes Per Scan Line
CX = Actual Pixels Per Scan Line
DX = Maximum Number of Scan Lines

Notes
~~~~~
The desired width in pixels may not be achieveable because of VGA hardware
considerations. The next larger value will be selected thta will accommodate
the desired number of pixels, and the actual number of pixels will be returned
in CX. BX returns a value that, when added to a pointer into video memory, will
point to the next scan line. For example, in a mode 13h this would be 320, but
in mode 12h this would be 80. DX returns the number of logical scan lines based
upon the new scan line length and the total memory installed and useable in this
display mode. This function is also valid in text modes. In text modes, the
application should find out the current character cell width through normal BIOS
functions, multiply that times the desired number of characters per line, and
pass the value in the CX register.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-24

6.9 Function 07h - Set/Get Display Start

This function selects the pixel to be displayed in the upper left corner of the
display from the logical page. This function can be used to pan and scroll
around logical screens that are larger than the displayed screen. This function
can also be used to rapidly switch between two different displayed screens for
double buffered animation effects.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 07h Display Start Control
BH = 00h Reserved and must be 0
BL = 00h Select Display Start
CX = First Displayed Pixel in Scan Line
DX = First Displayed Scan Line

Output: AX = Status


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 07h Display Start Control
BL = 01h Return Display Start

Output: AX = Status
BH = 00h Reserved and will be 0
CX = First Displayed Pixel in Scan Line
DX = First Displayed Scan Line

Notes
~~~~~
This function is also valid in text modes. In text modes, the application
should find out the current character cell width through normal BIOS functions,
multiply that times the desired starting character column, and pass that value
in the CX register. It should also multiply the current character cell height
times the desired starting character row, and pass that value in the DX
register.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-25

6.10 Function 08h - Set/Get DAC Palette Control

This function queries and selects the operating mode of the DAC palette. Some
DACs are configurable to provide 6-bits, 8-bits, or more of color definition per
red, green, and blue primary color. The DAC palette width is assumed to be
reset to standard VGA 6-bits per primary during a standard or VESA Set Super VGA
Mode (AX = 4F02h) call.

Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 08h Set/Get DAC Palette Control
BL = 00h Set DAC palette width
BH = Desired number of bits of color per primary
(Standard VGA = 6)

Output: AX = Status
BH = Current number of bits of color per primary
(Standard VGA = 6)


Input: AH = 4Fh Super VGA support
AL = 08h Set/Get DAC Palette Control
BL = 01h Get DAC palette width

Output: AX = Status
BH = Current number of bits of color per primary
(Standard VGA = 6)

Notes
~~~~~
An application can find out if DAC switching is available by querying Bit D0 of
the Capabilities field of the VgaInfoBlock structure returned by VESA Return
Super VGA Information (AX = 4F00h). The application can then attempt to set the
DAC palette width to the desired value. If the Super VGA is not capable of
selecting the requested palette width, then the next lower value that the Super
VGA is capable of will be selected. The resulting palette width is returned.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-26

7. Application Example
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The following sequence illustrates how an application interface to the VESA BIOS
Extension. The hypothetical application is VESA-aware and calls the VESA BIOS
functions. However, the application is not limited to supporting just
VESA-defined video modes. This it will inquire what video modes are available
before setting up the video mode.

1) The application would first allocate a 256 byte buffer. This buffer
will be used by the VESA BIOS to return information about the video
environment. Some applications will statically allocate this buffer,
others will use system calls to temporarily obtain buffer space.

2) The application would then call VESA BIOS function 00h (Return Super VGA
information). If the AX register does not contain 004Fh on return from
the function call, the application can determine that the VESA BIOS
Extension is not present and handle such situation.

If no error code is passed in AX, the function call was successful. The
buffer has been filled by the VESA BIOS Extension with various
information. The application can verify that indeed this is a valid
VESA block by identifying the characters ''VESA'' in the beginning of the
block. The application can inspect the VESAVersion field to determine
whether the VESA BIOS Extension ha sufficient functionality. The
application may use the OEMStringPtr to locate OEM-specific information.

Finally, the application can obtain a list of the supported Super VGA
modes by using the VideoModePtr. This field points to a list of the
video modes supported by the video environment.

3) The application would then create a new buffer and call the VESA BIOS
function 01h (Return Super VGA mode information) to obtain information
about the supported video modes. Using the VideoModePtr obtained in
step 2) above, the application would call this function with a new mode
number until a suitable video mode is found. If no appropriate video
mode is found, it is up to the application to handle this situation.

The Return Super VGA mode information function fills a buffer specified
by the application with information describing the features of the video
mode. The data block contains all the information an application needs
to take advantage of the video mode.

The application would examine the ModeAttributes field. To verify that
the mode indeed is supported, the application would inspect bit D0. If
D0 is clear, then the mode is not supported by the hardware. This might
happen is a specific mode requires a certain type of monitor but that
monitor is not present.

4) After the application has selected a video mode, the next step is to
initialize the mode. However, the application might first want to save
the present video mode. When the application exits, this mode would be
restored. To obtain the present video mode, the VESA BIOS function 03h
(Get Super VGA mode) would be used. If a non-VESA (standard VGA or
OEM-specific) mode is in effect, only the lower byte in the mode number
is filled. The upper byte is cleared.

5) To initialize the video mode, the application would use VESA BIOS
function 02h (Set Super VGA mode). The application has from this point
on full access to the VGA hardware and video memory.

VESA Super VGA Standard VS911022-27

6) When the application is about to terminate, it would restore the prior
video mode. The prior video mode, obtained in step 4) above could be
either a standard VGA mode, OEM-specific mode, or VESA-supported mode.
It would reinitialize the video mode by calling VESA BIOS function 02h
(Set Super VGA mode). The application would then exit.

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Thanks. You could of posted a link to the pdf of the file at:
http://www.vesa.org/vbe3.pdf

or offered to email it to him.

Or alternatively offer a link to a page where there is a step by step guide to VBE (by no means complete) at:

The Ivory Tower

Stay Lucky, Graham "Mournblade" Reeds,
ICQ: 30514803
http://homepage.dtn.ntl.com/grahamr

Edited by - grahamr on February 19, 2001 9:24:23 PM

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