Intelligent Input/Output (I2O)

Definition of I2O (Intelligent Input/Output) in Network Encyclopedia.

What is Intelligent Input/Output (I2O)?

Intelligent Input/Output is a hardware architecture developed by a consortium led by Intel that improves the input/output (I/O) performance of systems by relieving the central processing unit (CPU) of interrupt-intensive I/O tasks. Intelligent Input/Output (I2O) also provides a way of standardizing I/O device drivers across different operating systems and hardware platforms.

Intelligent Input/Output (I2O) - Intel Technology
Intelligent Input/Output (I2O)

How It Works

2O makes use of a separate I2O processor such as the Intel i960 series of processors. This enables the CPU to offload interrupts received from peripherals to the I2O processor for handling. This scheme can improve the performance of servers by as much as 30 percent.

I2O also standardizes device drivers by dividing them into two components:

  • A Hardware Device Module (HDM), which directly interfaces with the peripheral being managed
  • An Operating System Service Module (OSM), which interfaces with the operating system on the machine

In addition, an intermediate layer between the HDM and OSM provides independence between them by providing standard communication mechanisms that allow any HDM for any peripheral to interoperate with any OSM for any operating system.


The Windows 2000 operating system supports I2O.


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