BIOS, One of the oldest pieces of technology, that is still widely used today could be on its way out following the development of a newer, more efficient alternative.
A new technology known as Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) will replace Bios, which has been booting up PCs for 25 years. Given the technological advances made in computer science over that time, it’s no wonder that Bios takes a while to kick start modern computers into action. The continued use of Bios is starting to limit future developments, with problems arising when external devices are added to the system.
Currently it takes most between 30 seconds and several minutes to boot up their PC. Windows Vista was a particularly bad culprit of long boot times, while Windows 7 has built on this. Microsoft has promised that Windows 8 will deliver faster boot times, but the problem is not limited to the operating system alone; the Basic Input/Ouput System (BIOS) is also a contributing factor.
“At the moment it can be 25-30 seconds of boot time before you see the first bit of OS sign-on,” said Mark Doran, head of UEFI. “With UEFI we’re getting it under a handful of seconds. We’re not at instant-on yet but it is already a lot better than conventional BIOS can manage, and we’re getting closer to that every day.”
Doran revealed that the BIOS tends to take a long time to recognise hardware peripherals on modern computers, effectively operating in the same way it did with older machines. A new BIOS that can more quickly recognise things is needed, which UEFI intends to offer.
UEFI was originally an Intel-only product but evolved into a general standard when the need to replace Bios became apparent. For consumers the biggest bonus of UEFI will be the speed with which a machine starts up.
Google is currently working on a fast-boot Linux-based operating system called Chrome OS, which promises to deliver extremely fast boot times by cutting out much certain elements of a standard OS. This will mean it will have a limited scope of application, however, since it is primarily designed to get people on the net.
“In terms of boot speed, we’re not at instant-on yet but it is already a lot better than conventional Bios can manage,” he said “and we’re getting closer to that every day.” It is expected that UEFI will become mainstream in 2011, with some manufacturers of embedded computers already using the system now.