The decades-old basic input/output system (Bios) could be about to get a refresh that would enable PCs to start up in just a few seconds.
The UEFI Forum is working on a replacement for Bios called UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) that it hopes will alleviate many of the problems associated with the 25-year-old technology, particularly the time it takes for PCs to start up and shut down.
In an interview with the BBC, Mark Doran, head of the UEFI Forum, said that the software could be in use within the year, thanks to recent advances made by his group.
"Conventional BIOS is up there with some of the physical pieces of the chipset that have been kicking around the PC since 1979," said Doran, adding that it was only designed to have a short life-cycle.
"[The creators of the original Bios] are as amazed as anyone else that now it is still alive and well in a lot of systems. It was never really designed to be extensible over time."
UEFI started life as an Intel specification, but has been adopted elsewhere. The clue to its power is in the Extensible part of its name, which suggests that it has been designed to be around for a while.
It is also intended to be flexible, and will be able to reduce start-up and shut-down times dramatically, according to Doran. He explained that PCs would no longer have to go through the same rigorous start-up checks users have come to accept.
“At the moment, it can be 25 to 30 seconds of boot time before you see the first bit of OS sign-on,” Doran said.
“With UEFI, we’re getting it down to a handful of seconds. It’s not quite instant-on, but it is already a lot better than conventional Bios can manage.”
The UEFI Forum is responsible for developing, managing and promoting UEFI specifications. This month it will host its Plugfest interoperability and assessment forum in Taipei, Taiwan.
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