What Is a PCI Device Driver?

By Bridgette Ashmore

PCI slots connect
i pci slots image by Witold Krasowski from Fotolia.com

The inner workings of a computer involve a mix of both hardware devices and software. One example of this mix is a PCI hardware device, which needs a software driver to function. Without this driver, the device will not function.


A device driver is a program that controls a particular piece of computer hardware. This hardware can be external, like a printer, or internal, like a sound card. Drivers are hardware-dependent and operating system-specific. Most devices come with a driver; you can also download drivers for free from most hardware manufacturers' websites.

PCI Devices

Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI, is the standard interface used to connect peripherals to a personal computer. Components like sound cards, network cards and TV tuner cards all use PCI to translate information from the main processor.

PCI Device Drivers

A PCI device driver is the program that allows a PCI device to function as intended. Different PCI devices use different drivers. If you receive an error message about a driver, it may have become corrupted or uninstalled. In this case, you need simply to determine the manufacturer of the device, then visit that company's website to obtain the driver.