All Asus GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards can now be updated to support UEFI GOP, required for Windows 8's Fast Boot feature.
Asus has begun the slow process of making its hardware compatible with the new Fast Boot functionality of Windows 8 with the release of a Graphics Output Protocol (GOP) UEFI BIOS for its Nvidia GTX 680 graphics cards.
Introduced in Windows 8, the Fast Boot functionality can massively decrease the time it takes a machine to start up from cold - but requires compatible hardware to be fitted into the system. The first requirement is a motherboard with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS along with a graphics card supporting the Graphics Output Protocol (GOP) UEFI extension. While many motherboards meet the first requirement, graphics cards meeting the second are thin on the ground - something Asus is attempting to resolve.
The firmware update, currently only available for the company's Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 based graphics cards but to be rolled out across the range in future, replaces the traditional legacy VGA BIOS installed on the card with a hybrid legacy/UEFI BIOS supporting the Graphics Output Protocol required for Fast Boot functionality in Windows 8.
While the company has only tested compatibility with its own-brand motherboards, Asus claims that it should enable Fast Boot on all UEFI-compatible boards based on the Intel 7 Series chipset, the upcoming Intel 8 Series chiset, any X79 boards with the 3xxx BIOS update installed, all Intel H61 R2.0 or later boards and all AMD R.20 series or later boards. Sadly, other UEFI boards - including those based on the P67 or Z68 chipsets - are not compatible with Windows 8 Fast Boot, regardless of the graphics card's support for UEFI GOP.
While Asus warns that the BIOS update is still in the testing stage and advises users not to install it unless they need Windows 8 Fast Boot support, the inclusion of fallback legacy BIOS code means that the update can be installed even when used on older motherboards or with pre-Windows 8 operating systems. No other changes are made by the update, so don't flash the board expecting performance improvements, while Asus warns that it's impossible to go back to the original legacy-only BIOS once updated.
If you have a compatible UEFI-enabled motherboard and Asus-branded GeForce GTX 680 board, and don't mind being a bit of a guinea pig for Asus, more details plus the update file - installed through a scripted version of NVFlash - are available <a href="http://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?30670-GOP-UEFI-BIOS-Available-for-ASUS-GeForce-GTX-680-Series-Graphics-Cards">on the Asus RoG website now</a>.