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UEFI, what is it good for?

Potentially something
Mon Oct 04 2010, 17:19

THE PC BIOS REPLACEMENT UEFI is poised to transform the speed with which PCs boot up. The only problem is, its been promising to do that for years.

The web is abuzz with the news that UEFI, or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, is almost ready to speed up boot times, with many reports saying that we could start to see its benefits, in PCs that boot up while your morning tea is still hot, by next year.

UEFI aims to replace the PC BIOS, which by now is looking a bit clunky and slow, and UEFI could shave the amount of time you spend at the office genuinely unable to work from some 25 seconds to just a few seconds. Which is bad news for anyone who likes to moan about their journey in, but good news for clock-watching productivity nuts.

The BIOS has been around and in use for some 25 years, longer than we suspect Steve Jobs has owned his favourite black polo neck shirt, but even UEFI has its roots in the early 2000s, making it, in technology years, a bit old.

It made one of its first appearances in Intel's Itanium systems back in 2000. Since then it has appeared fairly regularly, and has won favour at Gateway, Microsoft where it is a part of its X64 system, Apple - it appears in Bootcamp - IBM and HP, where it remains a staple in Itanium systems. In these instances it is supported, but too often is let down by firmware that is not.

So questions persist, other than the increased speed is it any better than the PC BIOS? Perhaps we'll find out after next week's plugfest. Until then, we probably won't take the BBC's word for it.

The other questions concern who owns it. UEFI used to be an Intel specification, back when it was named EFI, so there might be some less than friendly patents or conditions on it, unless it is an open standard. There is also the issue of whether it will apply to both down-level hardware, or just suit newer kit. And so on.

We are currently waiting to hear back from UEFI. µ

 

 

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