Differences Between Device Drivers & Instrument Drivers

Question:  What are the differences between device drivers and instrument drivers?

Answer:  Device drivers are required for an operating system to communicate with computer sub-components such as a graphics card or printer. Device drivers can be generic and universal for basic functionality. Full featured device drivers are usually provided by the device manufacturer.

Instrument drivers assist an integrated development environment (i.e. LabVIEW, MATLAB, Visual Studio 2008) with higher level instrument communication with a VISA. Instrument drivers attempt to simplify common tasks such as retrieving scaled waveform data, measurement data, or screen capture with simple function calls to the lower level instrument commands. Instrument drivers are often language and instrument specific. Generally such drivers are provided by the author of the integrated development environment or from the IVI Foundation. Because instrument drivers add an additional layer of complexity, they can be troublesome to debug. Instrument drivers are not required and not recommended to new remote instrument programmers.

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