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First Look: Extensible Firmware Interface

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Flibblebot 22nd January 2008, 11:44 Quote
So we're probably looking at another 18mths+ before this becomes mainstream?
It's disappointing that MS don't seem to bother about supporting EFI on 32-bit Vista.
Spode 22nd January 2008, 12:01 Quote
True, but maybe the market needs that sort of push to get people moving to 64-bit. That would be justified if 64-bit Vista worked well :D

I'd quite like to know how big the flash memory is for an EFI bios. I.e, is it big enough to put a stripped down Linux install on, and if there are any down sides to doing so. With Slitaz (www.slitaz.org) at 22MB, if they have chosen 32MB for the standard, it's quite possible! With graphics, and higher level coding, I imagine it would have to be above the previous 2/4MB size.

Either way, I imagine we're going to see some interesting open source developments in this area.
DougEdey 22nd January 2008, 12:12 Quote
Shame it's not drop in socket replaceable either :(
steveo_mcg 22nd January 2008, 12:14 Quote
Problem with embedding linux in the EFI flash would be where does EFI go? If they go with a 32mb flash you can guarantee it'll fill most of that. Manufacturers are not going to spend more on this than they have to.
Koradhil 22nd January 2008, 13:14 Quote
Would be awesome to have the option of replacing the onboard flash for a higher capacity chip, to allow it to be used as an SSD.
Digital-Prozac 22nd January 2008, 13:33 Quote
Apple have been using EFI since they switched to Intel in 2006. So it's not that it's never been implemented by a manufacturer.
Goos!e 22nd January 2008, 15:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spode
True, but maybe the market needs that sort of push to get people moving to 64-bit. That would be justified if 64-bit Vista worked well :D

Maybe a few everyday applications/games working on 64-bit would help?

As far as i know... there are hardly any games out that even work on 64-bit(might be wrong and haven't heard of some tho)

My point being: 64-Bit seems overrated to me..

but to the EFI BIOS: I don't quite get the point of it....(prolly just too stupid)
Isn't it somewhat like a Linux type USB-Flashdrive OS (if ya get what i mean)?
Just like old fashion BIOS with a Facelift? and mind you... easier too use?
As far as im concerned.. most ppl i know don't dare to finger about in their BIOS because they are too scared to F* up!
now with this nice little Interface and whatnots.. i take that the "no-i-wont-touch-it-cause-it-looks-"techy"" barrier is going down

And wtf! Instant messaging? In BIOS? What For?

supportchat? or for the urgent to have a Cybernookie?

Capability to Stream Audio/video???

Sorry.. i don't quite get the point of it all...

Having a facelift is nice.. for a change.. this ugly blue is getting out of fashion yes.. but is it really necessary?
I think its more the same reason the CPU's have different sockets... so the Industry can earn more money

"Oh yes this mainboard costs this much because it has state-of-the-art EFI BIOS on it"

All older ones/those without will probably just not be manufactured anymore... like the Socket A Mainboards...

yeah there is always this auction plattform....

and in the end... you probably will not even have a choice... New PC... EFI BIOS already in... new MoBo...you get the hint....
legoman666 22nd January 2008, 16:30 Quote
I dont see how this is going to good. The only thing I would like to see is more explanation of some of the options in the bios. Maybe a UI facelift. But this looks you'll have to navigate 50 extra menus to find the item you're looking for. And what is the point of having all of those extra apps in it? an instant messanger? wtf sir. Mouse support would be nice, but completely unnecessary.

The bios doens't have to have a fancy UI. The only time you'll be looking at it is to change an overclock, change a boot device, or change some random setting. I don't know about most people, but once I get it set up the way I like it, I leave it alone for months at a time.

The bios on my 2yr old motherboard does everything I want it to already. If an overclock fails, it reboots at default speeds. It can boot from any USB device. Hardware temp monitoring, changing ram timings, fsb settings, boot order, plus all the myriad of other options. This is a improvment over my 8 yr old dell's bios (being used as a file server in my cloest). Getting the dell to boot from anything other than its main IDE channels was nigh impossible, no USB keyboard support among other things.
[USRF]Obiwan 22nd January 2008, 18:01 Quote
We go to the moon and back, have ultraspeed quad processors, super HD 3D gaming, Flatscreen HD LCD monitors, Copper heatpippes on the motherboard, Solid state capicators, terrabyte drives, 1200Watt PSU's, Triple and quad Videocard options, multiscreen views, fast sata connectors, highspeed bluray/HD-dvd drives, 32GB memorysticks, ultrathin flashdrives, Warning led indictations all over the motherboard, Flashy lcd readout, 20 highspeed USB connectors, Linked Gigabit ethernetm external sata connectors, Bluetooth connectivity, wifi wireless connections, HD 7.1 sound with optical connectors, a keyboard with Oled or laserguided keys, weird looking mind/gesture controlable things and multitouch interfaces.



...And still they put a floppydisc connector on the motherboard...
Kipman725 22nd January 2008, 18:43 Quote
seems to me to be a problem looking for a solution. Also moden BIOS still works with early versions of DOS (and the speed is jaw droping windows 3.11 boots instantly (still buggy though)) wheras this EFI only works with the most moden OS's. If boot speed is a problem shouldn't the focus be on linux bios which can boot in mili seconds.
Splynncryth 22nd January 2008, 19:18 Quote
EFI is hard to see any advantage to as a user because it was not really designed with a user in mind. Any piece of software that gets a PC up and running should do so with as little intrusion as is possible. That is not to say there is not a lot of work BIOS does.

The problem is that BIOS is like that place that has grown over the years with no real planning or oversight. Things are strewn about all over the place, some things are there because of some long forgotten feud or just because of tradition. Normally, you don't care because all you do is drive by it on your way to something else. Occasionally, you may stop in to use the phone, restroom, or other service. But you never have been that far into that place, and the locals like it that way.

EFI is about bringing order to this behind the scenes chaos. You can learn a lot about BIOS from the 1984 IBM technical reference manual for PCs. That is the primary source for the 'standard' BIOS is based off of. Along the way, some other things may have been added, El Torrito, BBS, USB, etc. But most of these are not concrete and may only be loosely enforced. This leads to a lot of complaining :) EFI tries to separate a lot of these specifications, which are heavily tied to PC architecture, and tries to abstract it so there is no dependence on hardware at all. Imagine a version of grub or lilo that didn't care what platform it was loading on. Consider the highly unlikely future where PC architecture radically changes, like Sparc or Itanium were to somehow become the architecture of choice (this is all hypothetical :) ). Outside of the binary compatibility issue, an OS that uses EFI would theoretically be fairly simple to get running on the new platform. At least, that's the theory.

For must of us, it will simply be a new TLA on the box and not affect us too much. Most of what was demoed, the IM app, media player and such are not big sellers but more to demonstrate what can be done. If there is a demand, they may become part of the system firmware, but for most of us, BIOS is something we barely notice.
DougEdey 22nd January 2008, 19:29 Quote
The streaming from EFI for Audio/Video would be great if this is implemented on cheap boards, making a quick and easy Media Streaming server is great!

But
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goos1e
As far as i know... there are hardly any games out that even work on 64-bit(might be wrong and haven't heard of some tho)

Erm...What planet are you on? Almost all games work on 64 bit, only really old ones have some difficulties, but not a lot of people use them.
legoman666 22nd January 2008, 19:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF
Obiwan]We go to the moon and back, have ultraspeed quad processors, super HD 3D gaming, Flatscreen HD LCD monitors, Copper heatpippes on the motherboard, Solid state capicators, terrabyte drives, 1200Watt PSU's, Triple and quad Videocard options, multiscreen views, fast sata connectors, highspeed bluray/HD-dvd drives, 32GB memorysticks, ultrathin flashdrives, Warning led indictations all over the motherboard, Flashy lcd readout, 20 highspeed USB connectors, Linked Gigabit ethernetm external sata connectors, Bluetooth connectivity, wifi wireless connections, HD 7.1 sound with optical connectors, a keyboard with Oled or laserguided keys, weird looking mind/gesture controlable things and multitouch interfaces.



...And still they put a floppydisc connector on the motherboard...

ever try to install windows XP onto a SATA RAID array?

Thats what I thought.
Woodstock 22nd January 2008, 19:49 Quote
the main advantage i see is that its written in c/c++ and that (last i heard) a worldwide shortage of (traditional) bios coders
completemadness 22nd January 2008, 19:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
Erm...What planet are you on? Almost all games work on 64 bit, only really old ones have some difficulties, but not a lot of people use them.
Most 64bit OS's (Well, XPx64 and Vista64) have 32 bit emulation, There are still only a very limited number of 64bit games

Of course, who really cares at the moment, as long as 32bit games play in 64bit OS's, what does it matter
As 64bit becomes more mainstream, so will programs using it (mainly ATM, only drivers are supporting 64bit, because they have to)

Edit:
Ontopic - its great to see EFI finally coming closer to the consumer, Linux (well servers) have had it for ages, and apple has had it for a while (didnt the original IBM mac's use something like EFI though)
Once again, its just windows holding _everyone_ back
DXR_13KE 22nd January 2008, 19:58 Quote
legoman666 there are some mobos that you don't need that....
Bionic-Blob 22nd January 2008, 20:42 Quote
eugh, still uses that crappy system font ><
completemadness 22nd January 2008, 20:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
legoman666 there are some mobos that you don't need that....
That use a raid array? Only the ones that use an "IDE" mode get away without drivers (that ive seen)

Anything like SATA hotswap, AHCI, or Raid all require drivers - i too welcome the addition of floppys, even in this day and age
Woodstock 22nd January 2008, 22:00 Quote
if apple use EFI how can xp boot with boot camp
Koradhil 22nd January 2008, 22:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by legoman666
ever try to install windows XP onto a SATA RAID array?

Thats what I thought.
Just slipstream the SATA/RAID drivers into your Windows installation CD with nLite, then you won't need a floppy drive.
Splynncryth 22nd January 2008, 23:01 Quote
Apple's original firmware did not have a Compatability Support Module (CSM) because they were not concerened with booting 'legacy' operating systems. Boot camp adds this support so it can run XP. Intel has been shipping EFI on their server boards for a couple generations now and that has not stopped them from using operating systems that are not 'EFI aware'. I'm pretty sure Intel's desktop boards have been doing it for a while too, though they don't make it easy to tell (with the servers, just look for the EFI shell under their boot options).
So EFI is reverse compatible and there is nothing to fear there. It's just that the OS can't take advantage of what EFI has to offer the OS.
Starbuck3733T 22nd January 2008, 23:41 Quote
http://www.flickr.com/photos/starbuck3733t/2212528303/ is all I have to say about EFI and D.O.T. Control.
choupolo 22nd January 2008, 23:52 Quote
Sorry, I also dont see the point of this. Useful to make BIOS options more intuitive yes, but who needs an OS and then a mini-OS for the BIOS as well. No need for the games or instant messenger etc. I want my BIOS to start my PC and thats it (which it already does), I can rely on the normal OS for everything else thanks.

I personally do not need EFI.
Ramble 23rd January 2008, 00:32 Quote
Why? What is the point? I jsut want the fastest, most stable thing to get my computer running that supports overclocking options. That is it, I dont want to stream media using a BIOS.
metarinka 23rd January 2008, 02:13 Quote
I could almost see a dual use, where in the morning if I don't want to wait the min+ for my computer to boot, i could quickly log on and check my e-mail. I was wondering why it took bioses soo long to get with the times and upgrade the old school menu is about the least user friendly thing.
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