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Goodbye BIOS – Hello UEFI

Efforts to modernize traditional PC boot firmware leads to Intel’s collaboration with Phoenix Technologies on UEFI BIOS client and server development.

Phoenix Technologies, a long-time developer of PC Basic Input Output System (BIOS) firmware, recently announced an agreement with Intel to jointly develop the new reference Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

All PCs have built-in BIOS software (boot firmware) that is the first code to run when the PC is powered on. As a BIOS replacement, the UEFI specification defines the software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. It is meant to modernize today’s traditional BIOS booting process for all PC form factors by offering processor-independent architectures and related devices drivers. UEFI capable systems are already been shipped by major PC OEMs.

 

Most PC motherboard suppliers license a BIOS core from a third-party company. The board suppliers then customize the BIOS to address different hardware needs. Today, major BIOS vendors include American Megatrends (AMI), Insyde Software, and Phoenix Technologies.

Phoenix’s latest BIOS product, a software tool suite called Secure Core Technology (SCT) 3.0, allows board suppliers to easily customize their BIOS for both unique hardware and user interface requirements. SCT is targeted at servers, notebooks, desktop and embedded devices and provides a universal build environment so a single BIOS can be used across numerous operating systems and silicon platforms.

In addition to collaboration with Intel, Phoenix has relationships with AMD, ARM, Microsoft and others.

Rich Geruson, President and CEO of Phoenix, says that the company’s BIOS products are differentiated from competitors by its clean code, friendly user interface and level of engineering experience. “Our engineers typically have up to 5-7 years of experience versus our competition,” explained Geruson. “Plus, our architecture provides very fast boot time and optimizes power usage.”

According to Steve Chan, Phoenix’s CTO, the company has engagements with Intel’s PC client group to collaborate on a reference BIOS. Additionally, the company is providing engineering support to Intel’s server group. When asked if the reference BIOS technology would be used on Intel’s embedded products including mobile, Chan could only say that some of the technology could be applied to different platforms.

Phoenix was founded in 1979 and hold over 200 patents of which 75% relate to BIOS technology.

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