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back to article MSI mobo ditches Bios for EFI

Although the MSI P45D3 Platinum looks like a regular Core 2 motherboard, it breaks new ground. Out goes long-standing PC technology the Bios and in comes UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) in its place. UEFI is the successor to the Bios and seeks to take us away from the antiquated method of changing core computer …

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Flame

Big, fat, hairy deal

Ooh, now it's a little prettier. What's next, a hand-carved oil drain plug for my car? Soon will you have to set up a pre-pre-boot environment so that your GUI-driven BIOS will run properly?

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@Daniel Palmer

"i.e you don't have to have 6 million incremental boot straps to get to a point at which you can load and jump into a kernel"

That's right, you don't - you have to get through about 20 times as many bootstraps + loading of an inane environment before you can jump to a kernel. Or you think EFI has a smaller footprint than BIOS?

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So much wrong...

1) Get your facts straight -- there HAVE been BIOSes in the past which were GUI-based and allowed the use of the mouse. This is not innovative, is not novel, and most certainly is not an improvement. The reason it wasn't used extensively is because it's a crap idea and because modifying the settings with a mouse is more difficult than using the keyboard. If you can't figure out how to use a keyboard, you almost certainly should not be touching your BIOS settings (unless you're physically disabled and literally cannot use the keyboard).

2) Allowing you to flash your BIOS from within Windows is the single worst idea the BIOS manufacturers have ever come up with. If malware writers actually wanted to cause damage instead of taking control of people's systems to form botnets, blasting the BIOS with bad data would be the perfect way. No way to fix that except to replace the chip (unless you're one of the few who have a motherboard with dual-BIOS). And no, I don't think there should be a DOS program to flash the BIOS, either. You should have to be in the BIOS screen already in order to flash the BIOS.

3) To the "Gee, look at Apple, they're light years ahead of their time!" idiots, if Apple is so smart, then why was it INTEL that created EFI? The ONLY reason Apple used it was to provide another barrier to people trying to use non-Apple hardware.

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I cant wait

I think UEFI is great.

I'll make loads of money charging people to fix their PCs when they make silly changes to it.

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EFI is an Itanium leftover no one wants.

Modern system ROMs use ACPI to provide OS based graphical environments for hardware configuration. EFI / UEFI is bloated code that no one wants. It is an example of excessive change pushed by Intel with no user benefit.

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Linux

Linux BIOS

Who needs another, more graphically BIOS when one is not supposed to touch it? This does not make too much sense.

It would be better if it supported the free and open Linux BIOS (aka coreboot).

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Go

I like EFI, and I know more about it than you

As a BIOS coder, being able to write almost all of the firmware for a new machine in C rather than assembly makes the process much faster. The modular nature of EFI means that work I do on platform A can often be easily reused on platform B, and means that I get to roll things out much faster. EFI's got a TCP/IP stack, too, so I can even change setup options over the network, even when the machine can't boot.

The graphics are irrelevant- in fact, the firmware I work on doesn't support it, working on serial console or telnet instead. (In fact, so does the Mac EFI implementation...)

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I wonder...

...will UEFI pip BIOS at the POST?

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@Steen Hive

Really? On my broken-EFI macbook .... Mac on, EFI firmware loads grub.efi, select kernel, kernel and initramfs load, bootloader exits. Thats a little bit nicer than relying on the MBR to load this part of the os loader, that then loads that part of the os loader, if that worked it loads the next part of the os loader blah blah blah. It's not as nice as maybe uboot that can load Linux directly but EFI isn't meant to be tied to one operating system is it.

I'm not sure where I said that EFI has a smaller footprint.... but does it really matter in this day and age when we have very large flash memory devices readily available? I'd rather have something bigger that is more robust.

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@David Shepherd

David Sheperd wrote: At least for those of us old enough to remember keying in a bootstrap loader via front panel switches BIOS seems perfectly fit for purpose.

Yes, or the engineers' box on ICL 1900 kit! Great days.

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@Daniel Palmer

"Really? On my broken-EFI macbook .... Mac on, EFI firmware loads grub.efi, select kernel, kernel and initramfs load, bootloader exits"

...What no radeon.efi, no NIc driver? no ....? Let's face it, it's hardly reductio ad absurdum to say that the push here is a forced paradigm shift that puts the OS largely out of the users control, whatever your particular current hardware implementation.

I've built/dumped a lot of stuff with tianocore in the course of researching hackintosh, and the edk is a solution looking for a problem - configuring OSX to boot from a standard darwin loader - without EFI - can be (and is) done in a couple of lines of "C".

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Stop

Quicker initial boot is all I want.......

I'm lucky to have a new core i7 on an Asus P6T Deluxe mobo.

First it displays Expressgate (default 30 seconds)

Then it displays the AMI BIOS screen

Then it displays drive info (So my 2nd optical is PATA, who cares?)

Then it displays the SAS controller

Then the PXE boot screen

And eventually I get the O/S boot loader.

I've turned off or reduced the display time for as many options as I can. Thanks Asus.

I thought modern PCs were meant to boot faster than a 286 doing a 640K memory check on POST?

Flippy

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Anonymous Coward

DOS underpins Windows XP

Think he means 95.

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Happy

Why don't they do something useful

Like fixing the loss of usb support between boot-order and confirm boot from CDROM.

Will I have to keep my old serial keyboard forever?

The good thing about the current BIOS changing is that you have to give it some thought just to get in there and navigate. You have to be doing this on purpose and with a purpose. Non-techies would probably only be doing it on the advice of someone else (not a guarantee but at least some thought will have gone into the process as opposed to randomly clicking on icons)

Anyhoo - this UEFI will probably get itself a bit restricted after a few punters burn out their GPUs.

And FFS will someone tell mobo manufacturers to stop letting their five year olds do the graphic design on their software

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Boffin

More fluff

But at least it's pretty fluff and may even be useful. BTW you are only truly hardcore if you have done a live BIOS swap and firmware flash :)

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Linux

YAWWWWWWNNNNNN

Old news

BIOS is old, but it works and has a smaller footprint than EFI.

It takes up more space on the board and therefore costs more......remove the over the top functionality...My God I can play a game crap.

Also I will not trust any manufacturer who cannot spell CONTROL (not Contorol - see page 4 second picture), how many typos are in the code then......?

I can quite happily OC any mobo from good old text using a KEYBOARD.

WAIT...........I have just realised, I could make a fortune from private jobs from PEBKAC (Problem exists between Keyboard and Chair) errors cause they have clicked on something then clicking on YEs when it says 'Are you Sure' (All accientally of course).

EFI.....when can you start all is forgiven Kerching..........

Penguin because even they know how to use a computer

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Happy

Ah, memories...AMI WinBIOS

I'm surprised to say the least that nobody else has mentioned the AMI WinBIOS. When I saw this article, the WinBIOS was the first thing that came to mind. I actually kind of liked the concept of a GUI BIOS setup utility at the time, my only complaint was the slow mouse tracking speed and that most of the color schemes were awful.

However, graphical setup tools alone won't cut it. Motherboard manufacturers should try actually documenting what the settings do in either the BIOS or the motherboard manual. (Yes, I've found settings that were totally ignored in the manuals of more than a few motherboards.) There have been times that I've contacted chipset makers, blindly experimented or even read the datasheets for major motherboard components to figure out what some of the more obscure settings might do.

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Paris Hilton

BIOS console redirection

MSI, if this GUI thing is an improvement over text UI, please show me how to redirect it over serial port...

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Anonymous Coward

MSI is not alone

Newer HP laptops (such as 6730s) also have UEFI instead of BIOS, and let you use either a mouse or keyboard for configuration (though if you want to turn BIOS emulation off, you're warned that it's an experimental feature, aimed mostly at developers).

Then again, my 486 from 1995 had a mouse-driven BIOS in pseudo-graphical mode with windows, icons etc.

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Is Asus the first?

The Dell E series laptops already seem to have EFI boot.

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Stop

The article doesn't do EFI justice

You have to read the article very closely to see what the promise of EFI is here. Booting into a GUI BIOS is, as most of the commenters state, pretty pointless: it doesn't provide a compelling advantage over text-mode configuration screens, it likely won't work over serial or remote consoles, and(in this particular incarnation) it's just cheesy.

So, not a great sales job on EFI then, dear Reg. Perhaps you should point out where the mobo makers can go with this technology. The mobo guy hinted at this. An IP stack in the bios? NSH-format scripting? Jolly useful for remote installs. Better disk support? Very handy when disks are getting bigger by the day. @Tb disks are only a few years away and the current BIOS technology won't cope.

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What I expect from Firmware

I expect form Firmware that it loads my bootloader into RAM and executes it. It would also be nice if it would provide a little hardware abstraction for it.

Other than that, a little setup and update utility would be nice to have in ROM.

I guess the only possible advantage could be that it can still provide hardware abstraction services to the kernel. That would make kernels way simpler. But unfortunately that feature is completely useless unless the whole EFI stack is open source. Otherwise it's unlikely it will be usable.

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Black Helicopters

Killing independent mobo-manufacturers

"Bios and in comes UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) in its place."

Which just "happens" to be riddled with Intel & MS patents. How about killing competition in yet another sector?

It's totally irrelevant what's UEFI is at technical level, it's important who defines it (at will): Intel/MS. Easy way to kill indepedent mobo-manufacturers: You don't sell licence to them or ask a ridiculous price.

Yet another trick from dirty tricks department and most of the commenters buy it at face value. That's sad, tactics should be very easily seen with half brain.

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Black Helicopters

It's all about money

"EFI’s major benefit is within its programming structure"

No, it's major benefit is money. For Intel, of course. I fail to see what are the benefits for MSI, unless Intel pays them to act as a sock puppet in this matter ... like some nice deep discount for bridge circuits, to a loyal customer, eh?

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efiGL, efiIPv6, efiMobileIP, efiGPS

with support for pixel/vertex/whatever else shaders, with Clippy The EFI Assistant, with JavaEFI(TM) edition for 3rd party applets support, with EFI indexing service ("The one that is supposed to make finding [options in EFI BIOS] quicker, that is controlled by interaction with a cartoon dog that you thought you had turned off") and embedded audio/video player with DRM support for even richier, nicier, beefier luser sexperience...

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Coat

Graphical system setup?

Hmm... OK, I'll admit that some of it was CLI (I.E. the *configure command), but not all of it. The system - the Acorn Archimedes.

Pulling the computer out of the 1980's indeed! Heh!

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Dead Vulture

@Leo Waldock

Wow... this is the first article on any Register site I've started but could not finish. By page 2 I had to quit reading and ask what you problem with command line interfaces are? Did a keyboard beat you up when you were younger? Did a tab key kill your dog?

The hatred that you showed for the traditional BIOS interface, keyboard input and not capitalizing BIOS (it is an initialism you know?) makes me wonder if you have enough years under your belt to speak on this kind of topic.

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