Writing an end to the bio of BIOS

By Julio Franco ยท 29 replies
Dec 31, 2003
  1. Intel and Microsoft say it's time to ditch the outmoded BIOS, or basic input/output system, which for 23 years has served to start a PC's hardware before the operating system takes over. The companies say the Extensible Firmware Interface, or EFI, makes it simpler to add improvements to PCs and speeds up the booting process.

    Although many agree that the BIOS is out of date, a new technology isn't likely to be adopted until it's declared an industry standard. Intel and Microsoft will push for that, but with PC makers historically resistant to change, EFI is, if anything, likely to exist alongside BIOS for some time.

    Read more: CNet News.
  2. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Maniac Posts: 2,244

    I read a bit about this a while back, at that time they were talking like this was still several years away. In a way it looks like it would be a good thing, but in another I'd hate to see the BIOS system go.
  3. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    If you consider the amount of smart technologies which could take the place of the BIOS, this can only be a good thing. Some of them are like mini operating systems in their own right, and have features for advanced diagnostics, managing boot loaders, installing new operating systems, partititioning disks, etc. The BIOS is holding the PC back, but without it I guess we wind up with a thing that's not really a PC at all, in a sense.
  4. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I wonder how significantly this will help improve the bootup times in PC's? I know they have been talking about making the pc's like the pda's where once you turn it on, it is on. I guess this could be a step in the right direction. But I think as technology advances so must the way it works. It's time for something newer and better.
  5. ak_in_charge

    ak_in_charge TS Rookie Posts: 119

    Change is GOOD!
  6. Strakian

    Strakian TS Rookie Posts: 136

    I think when they get the ball rolling it will be like SATA. Couple board manufacturers started making it available along with standard EIDE interface. That was well over a year or two ago. Now it's catching on as more HD and optical drive manufacturers start to understand and utilize it.

    Technology moves way faster than anything else, what with 5GB drives the size of nickles and crazy wireless connection all over central park and stuff. It's only expected. I'm in agreement with Phantasm66 on this one... Basically the biggest bottleneck in ANY system is the Motherboard. This new BIOS replacement is necessary as we get into PCI Express and faster Buses on the board.

    I'm glad, but hesitant about this new discovery. It's not like anyone will ever need more than 64K of memory right? :grinthumb
  7. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    If you would couple this with the hypothetical solid-state O/S, your boot-up would be complete in about 5 sec. with the current hardware. Just conjecture, mind you. :D
  8. tripleione

    tripleione TS Rookie Posts: 154

    With two huge PC bigwigs like Microsoft and Intel working for a new standard to replace the BIOS, it's really not a question of "if," but rather "when."
  9. agrav8r

    agrav8r TS Rookie Posts: 103

    I don't see this as a good thing. likely our systems will become "smarter" which all will say is a good thing. This, However ( and maybe i only speak for myself) will limit the tweakablity that we so love in our systems. In XP you need to pull out your eye teeeth to get it optimized for the generalized garbage that it is sent out at- jack of all trades master of none. This will be the enivatable fate of any bios system that is deemed "smart"- make it so that any 12 IQ level goon can run it.Typically they set for the lowest denomenator and go from there. if they allow flexablity i will resend my distaste, but i also hear they are genetically reengineering a canary with a pig.
  10. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,978   +15

    To me this sounds like a change for the good. They arent going to make the new "standard" a flop, no one can afford that.
  11. tripleione

    tripleione TS Rookie Posts: 154

    It's too early to say for sure, but I don't think that they are trying to make it user friendly. I think what they are trying to do is make it easier for hardware manufacturers (probably CPU manufacturers in particular) to have the widest range of support for all their products on a motherboard from the factory. Instead of users having to constantly flash their motherboards to be able to support new hardware, the support for the hardware will already be there.

    This is in addition to whatever these two companies have planned to make the boot up process faster. I haven't the slightest clue how they would do that, though.
  12. Federelli

    Federelli TS Rookie Posts: 361

    If PCI-Express makes it, so will EFI :D
  13. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Strange... The article talks as if the tech is something that'll appear in the next couple of years, but also points to a GateWay computer which uses EFI...

    I'm a bit weary for several reasons...
    It's good because it (EFI)
    * won't have to access all the components in the system, just those needed to boot
    * Will enable us to set up OS' and partitions through it

    But it can be bad because it
    * might remove much of the "tweakability" of current systems
    * might force the industry to go in one direction that most does not want to go
    * might make it harder to use Linux/other free OS'
    * might force us to accept DRM in a way unseen before

    It will be interesting to see how the chipsets from Intel (in 2005) and Longhorn will make use of EFI, and in what way it has/will evolve until then...

    Huh? To me those are two very different techs that allthough interconnected won't have any impact on how the other does...

    PCI-Express is allready on the way with Nvidia and ATI making both chipsets and gpu's for it, is supported by both Intel & AMD etc., whereas EFI is still some time away with only 2 big current backers Intel & MS...

    So I don't really see how PCI-Express will make sure EFI will "make it"
  14. Federelli

    Federelli TS Rookie Posts: 361

    IF a new tech such as PCI-Express makes it through, i belive that so will EFI. Never said they where connected in any way under any circumstance
  15. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Ah, then I see... :)

    Doesn't mean I agree, but I understand where you're coming from :)
  16. Federelli

    Federelli TS Rookie Posts: 361

    On a side note, more on subject, i'd like to add that it feels... "good" to finally see an update to such an old system, doesn't it? Like the soon to come BTX form instead of ATX motherboards
  17. SubKamran

    SubKamran TS Rookie Posts: 166

    It's time for a change. DOS is out the window, people don't use it much now (and even now we have emulators). It's time we give our boot a facelift and step away from 16 color images :D

    If it starts my PC faster, bring it on 8)

    But if it looks prettier than the current boot, I'll take it, that's just me and my "everything should look advanced and purty now" stance :p
  18. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Maniac Posts: 2,244

    Ok, since everyone else got soapboxish on this, guess I will too. First off, yes, I'd like to see a better way of doing the job of the BIOS, but I don't want it to come at the cost of tweakability.
    As a technician, this also means less for people to screw up and asd such, less for me to fix, less money I'll make. As a user, since I like to tweak my system to perfectly suit my needs in every way, this could give me less room to do what I want to the config, I do not like that at all. There are also possibilities of DRM implimentation in ways that gives me nightmares to even think about.

    People today constantly want change, you want to excellerate to something new, no matter the cost, just because it might look pretty or give you a tiny performance boost, you never weigh the pros and cons. Right now I'd have to say this is not really a good thing, its just further ***** proofing and a way to take control away from the user.
  19. tripleione

    tripleione TS Rookie Posts: 154

    Can you really blame them for trying to make it "***** proof" though? Since computers have pretty much dominated how the world runs today, I think it'd be better to have systems modified to where they will not need constant maintence because someone unknowingly messed with some settings and ruined their computer.
  20. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Are they planning something similar to Apple's "Open Firmware"?

    I understand it is different than te traditional BIOS, but there will likely always be some sort of software layer that provides access to components... Or will there? :)
  21. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I don't understand open firmware because have little experience with it (which is what I'm relating this article too), but it does leave some ability to customize. But not the customization you and I might enjoy with BIOS options on current PCs.

    I think this may spell the end of advanced options, such as dram timing controls and chipset specific features. Sounds like they might be planning something that works for all PC platforms.. And when you generalize like that, you lose the specifics. :(
  22. Federelli

    Federelli TS Rookie Posts: 361

    Well, we'll have to wait, perhaps new ways of configuring things will come, just use your imagination!
  23. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    I'm very interested in how exactly my system would boot faster?

    Most of the boot time of modern computers is taken up by the OS.
    A huge (it will be huge compared to BIOS) piece of software will have a lot of overhead. And there are still the CPU to detect, storage devices to enumerate, memory to test before you can even think about booting anything. At most it will be a couple of seconds spared by skipping things like the video/IO peripheral initialisation and PnP enumeration.

    And since it will be a largeish opaque piece of software configurable at runtime it will be a dream come true to all hackers, data miners, virus writers and evil corporate masterminds.

    But of course it is the paranoid ultra-conservative me talking here.
  24. Federelli

    Federelli TS Rookie Posts: 361

    Well... how much does the bios boot screen take to load... 4 seconds? 10 at most?

    I guess it'll take even less with EFI... but... who knows ;)
  25. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    With Microsoft working on it.. The EFI run time will be no less than 30 seconds and every 10th boot will hang with a blue screen with no reason whatsoever.. :p
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