Intel & Microsoft On EFI To Replace BIOS

Intel and Microsoft are gearing up to move toward the first
major overhaul of the innermost workings of the personal computer–the boundary
where software and hardware meet–during 2004. The companies will begin
promoting a technology specification called EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface)
as a new system for starting up a PC’s hardware before its operating system
begins loading, a process that kicks in every time a PC is switched on or
restarted. Intel has used EFI to create a preboot software framework that can
supplant the BIOS. The framework, called Platform Innovation Framework for EFI
and sometimes referred to by the code name Tiano, allows PC makers to write
preboot software modules, which are similar to Windows drivers, designed to get
a PC’s hardware up and running before handing off control of it to the operating
system.

Intel and Microsoft will promote EFI as an industry standard
by establishing a forum to assist others in adopting the specification. The
forum will be officially announced within the next 90 days. Intel believes
promoting the specification as a standard will ultimately help PC manufacturers
and please PC users by making computers start up more quickly; by improving the
ability to manage PCs and servers remotely; and by helping hardware makers cut
manufacturing and support costs–EFI PCs will be able to run diagnostic
utilities, for example, before loading their operating system. Intel and
Microsoft will also promote EFI by supporting it with their products. Microsoft
will support EFI in Longhorn, its next version of the Windows operating system.
Intel will support the technology in future chipsets–chips that move data
inside a PC. The chipmaker has also been licensing its EFI framework to third
parties, including BIOS software companies.

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