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Definition: VESA BIOS Extension

An earlier VESA programming interface for Super VGA cards. It provided a way for developers of DOS games and applications to query a graphics card for its capabilities and to set resolution and color depth directly. A VESA software driver was provided by the card or game vendor. As of VESA BIOS Extension (VBE) 2.0, the driver had to be implemented in the card's BIOS, and resolutions were selectable by pixels (640x480, 800x600, etc.), not just mode number.

The Universal Driver
Since the graphics card could be interrogated, it allowed for the development of a universal driver that asks for and then uses the commands that the card supports. Most VBE modes are outlined below. For more details, see PC display modes. See UniVBE.

      Mode no.                 Video
      (hex)  Res.      Colors  RAM used

      101    640x480   256     300K
      110    640x480   32K     600K
      111    640x480   64K     600K
      112    640x480   16M     900K

      103    800x600   256     469K
      113    800x600   32K     938K
      114    800x600   64K     938K
      115    800x600   16M    1406K

      105    1024x768  256     768K
      116    1024x768  32K    1536K
      117    1024x768  64K    1536K
      118    1024x768  16M    2304K

      107    1280x1024 256    1280K
      119    1280x1024 32K    2560K
      11A    1280x1024 64K    2560K
      11B    1280x1024 16M    3840K