Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS)

Definition of NDIS in the Network Encyclopedia.

What is Network Driver Interface Specification?

Network Driver Interface Specification, also known as NDIS, is a standard or specification that simplifies the process of writing drivers for network interface cards (NICs) and enables them to interact transparently with various transport protocols. The network driver interface specification (NDIS) is also a library of routines (or “wrapper”) in Microsoft Windows NT that is implemented through the file ndis.sys, which provides a uniform programming interface between NIC drivers and network protocols. NDIS simplifies the development of drivers for NICs.

Network Driver Interface Specification  (NDIS)
Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS)

NDIS was developed jointly by Microsoft and 3Com in 1989 and has gone through a series of revisions, as shown in the following table. The most recent versions allow one NIC to be bound to many protocols (which is ideal for heterogeneous networks) or allow one protocol to run on a system with multiple NICs (which helps increase network bandwidth for heavily used servers).

NDIS Versions

VersionPlatform16-bit or 32-bitFeatures
2Windows for Workgroups and OS/216Real mode; each NIC must have its own driver.
3Windows NT 3.5 x32Unlimited number of NICs can be bound to an unlimited number of protocols.
3.1Windows 9532A superset of NDIS 3 with plug and play functionality and support for minidrivers. Windows 95 supports up to four NICs in a computer.
4Windows NT 432Unlimited number of NICs can be bound to an unlimited number of protocols. Also allows capturing of all frames on local network segment without the need to switch the NIC to promiscuous mode.
5Windows 98 and Windows 200032Adds support for connection-oriented networks such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) or Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), including support for multiple virtual circuits on one network adapter.

See also


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