One of the stated goals for the 2.5 development cycle was the creation of a unified device model for the kernel. Previous kernels had no single data structure to which they could turn to obtain information about how the system is put together. Despite this lack of information, things worked well for some time. The demands of newer systems, with their more complicated topologies and need to support features such as power management, made it clear, however, that a general abstraction describing the structure of the system was needed.
The 2.6 device model provides that abstraction.