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Intel Upgrades Hardware

Swedes Show Intel Sandy Bridge Running BIOS-Successor UEFI 216

Posted by timothy
from the oofi-is-swedish-anyhow-isn't-it? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "SweClockers.com has gotten it hands on a Intel Sandy Bridge motherboard running Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, the long awaited successor of age-old BIOS. Among the differences is a significantly more user-friendly interface, the ability to boot from drives larger than 2 TB and faster boot times. Check it out, on video, in Swedish." Here's an Google's translation of the article.
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Swedes Show Intel Sandy Bridge Running BIOS-Successor UEFI

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  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius.driver@mac. c o m> on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:13PM (#34130526) Journal

    I have a three year old "Intel Desktop Board" that can boot via UEFI, boot to 2TB+ drives, etc.

    It's not exactly new. (And I have a server from 2001

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fackamato (913248)

      Not new, but not very common. I suppose that it's mainly the large harddrives that push for this to get out to the mainboards..

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gilesjuk (604902)

        EFI has been in Macs ever since they went Intel. Pretty common.

        Of course, you don't get to play with it, but then why would you need to?

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:39PM (#34130810)

          There are plenty of reasons to want BIOS/UEFI access. The problem with having a totally inaccessible one like Apple does is that if anything goes wrong or you need to change something, well then you are fucked. Apple "just works" until it doesn't and then it can often be more of a problem to fix. I am reminded of a Douglas Adams quote: "The difference between something that can go wrong and something that can't possibly go wrong is that when something that can't possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."

          So simple tasks that the BIOS/UEFI/other firmware provides are things like checking the RAM configuration and hardware monitors. In the event there's a problem with the system you can see things at a lower level, like which RAM slots are acknowledging what RAM or if there is a temperature or voltage problem. It can also be used for configuration tasks. Some mundane, like turning off integrated components (sound, net) if they aren't needed, some complex like overclocking.

          There's good reasons for access to it. Most people probably never need it, but it is good to have it there for those that do. All the functions are there, might as well have an interface so people can control them if required.

          • by techmuse (160085) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:43PM (#34130850)

            OS X will tell you all of this stuff in the system profiler. In fact, if you install RAM in a non-optimal configuration in a Mac Pro, it will automatically detect it and tell you how to correct the problem for best performance. In the laptops, there is no "wrong" configuration, unless you put the wrong type of RAM in, in which case that RAM slot is disabled or, in the worst case, the system won't boot (in which case UEFI wouldn't help you anyway).

            • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:01PM (#34130972)

              If you've never encountered a system with OS troubles all that means if you've not diagnosed many systems. We have a host of tools, including info in the BIOS, to diagnose systems that don't boot when checking things like hardware errors. Like in the case of a disk that won't boot. Is the data messed up, or is it a disk failure? If so how bad? Well one thing the BIOS can tell you is if it can see the disk. If it shows no data, or corrupted data, you know it is really bad. On the other hand if it shows up fine, then it is time to move on to bootable diagnostics.

              As I said I'm sure for normal users, access is not necessary. That doesn't mean it is never useful. To me it is like saying "Weld the breaker box shut, why would you need to get at that?" Well true, most people don't, I think a great many people never open a breaker box. Doesn't mean you shouldn't have it accessible should it be needed.

              • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:03PM (#34131902) Homepage Journal

                You can get some information by booting verbose, by holding down the V key, which causes the computer to boot with a text console. That may give you some information about what's going on.

                If the boot process is failing partway, you might be able to boot into single-user mode by holding down the S key, which gives you a root console. From there you can use unix tools to look around and/or fix things.

                There are other keys you can use, like the option key to choose between boot devices, or 'n' to boot from a netboot server. Insert the computer's installation DVD, and hold down the 'd' key during boot, and the computer will boot from a diagnostic partition on the disk, which I assume would be useful.

                You can also set an EFI password, and lock down these things.

                • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:03AM (#34133248)
                  Most of the stuff you mentioned (at least the first half of your post) are reliant on having a functional OS to begin with. If you have a working OS, you wouldnt be tinkering with the BIOS at all (as tools from the OS tend to be more useful anyways).

                  All the mac users here claiming that "youd never need that" probably either havent done much serious troubleshooting, or have a lot of disposable cash (and thus can replace the mac when something goes awry).
                  • "All the mac users here claiming that "youd never need that" probably either havent done much serious troubleshooting"

                    My first computers were a ZX81 kit, a Rockwell AIM-65, and a Tektronix 4051 graphics terminal with a storage tube display. Then an Apple IIc which I upgraded with a RAM card and a CPU upgrade. Then a Mac SE/30, a NeXT Cube, a NeXTstation, a few generations of AMD K6 and Athlon PCs which I overclocked and upgraded piecewise, before I grew out of that. Then OS X came out and I started buying M

                  • "Most of the stuff you mentioned (at least the first half of your post) are reliant on having a functional OS to begin with. If you have a working OS, you wouldnt be tinkering with the BIOS at all (as tools from the OS tend to be more useful anyways)."

                    Well, not really. The boot option keys are in EFI, so they work even if there's nothing to boot from. The verbose boot log starts really early in the boot process, RAM checks and whatnot. If the *OS* is broken, you'll see messages about it. If the system hangs

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              I believe Mac Pros also have LEDs near the RAM slots that will indicate problems.

              • I believe just about any computer since the 90s has boot up POST beep codes to alert you to an error. Are you telling me that only a subset of Macs (the Pros) have equivalent functionality?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Princeofcups (150855)

            There are plenty of reasons to want BIOS/UEFI access. The problem with having a totally inaccessible one like Apple does is that if anything goes wrong or you need to change something, well then you are fucked.

            Actually, you take it to the nearest Apple store, and they usually fix for the cost of parts. I've never seen the need to tinker with a PC myself. And yet my jobs usually have me in the guts of a Sun Enterprise or an IBM P series server.

            • A friend's macbook trackpad died, and I took it to the mac store. Cost to replace? $150.

              Thats a hell of a deal, right?
          • by linhux (104645)

            The problem with having a totally inaccessible one like Apple does is that if anything goes wrong or you need to change something, well then you are fucked.

            How is the Mac EFI "inaccessible"? Just put your EFI extensions (for example rEFIt or an EFI shell) on any disk with an EFI partition or a HFS+ volume with the appropriate blessings. The disk can be CD, USB or FireWire.

            Of course, it is not often you need to do this, since it's very rare to see a Mac that doesn't boot OS X from any device. In out Mac cluster at work, we can almost always netboot the machine and diagnose from there, when the OS X install DVD won't boot.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:40PM (#34130816)

          Of course, you don't get to play with it, but then why would you need to?

          The only boards that are worth having are the ones that validate my opinion of myself as an ubergeek. My entire self worth springs from my ability to adjust pointless hardware parameters through a poorly designed interface cobbled together by Korean sweatshop developers.

          I will never buy a motherboard that doesn't allow me to set the Clock Phase Skew to 0.25, or and the Memory Overdrive Voltage to 1.79. Those are the correct values. If your Apple motherboard doesn't have a byzantine boot menu that allows you to set them, then you're being kept in a walled garden. If you allow Steve Jobs to be an authoritarian control freak who prevents you from setting your memory timing to 4-3-3-2, then why don't you just an iPad and a Wii, and the rest of us will use the real computers.

          Now if you excuse me, I need to change the fuel injectors in my car. It's getting near winter, and as the air density increases I need to change the fuel air mixture. It's important that you stay on top of this. Only sheep leave it the same year round.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hairyfeet (841228)
            You may be joking but you'd be surprised how many times I have had to tweak BIOS because the defaults are frankly lame. I've seen them with Speedstep/Cool&Quiet disabled, RAM timings on the absolute lowest the RAM is rated for, all the legacy ports nobody uses turned on, etc. Personally I don't think I'd want a machine where I had no ability to ensure the defaults were sane, because in nearly every BIOS I've seen (haven't dealt with EFI yet) the defaults are ultra conservative. I didn't pay all this mon
          • Now if you excuse me, I need to change the fuel injectors in my car. It's getting near winter, and as the air density increases I need to change the fuel air mixture. It's important that you stay on top of this. Only sheep leave it the same year round.

            Right-on brother !

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Cyberax (705495)

          We use EFI to boot a Linux image loaded into EFI flash. So it takes less than a second to start the kernel (around 500 milliseconds - we haven't timed it precisely).

        • by geekoid (135745)

          um no. Last I checked, Macs weren't really that common in the market. So no,it's not common.

          Macs run OSX, so I suppose thats common amongst all computers as well?

          • You haven't checked lately, have you?

            Hint: Apple is now a bigger company than Microsoft, and unlike Microsoft they didn't get there by selling their OS. Which, by the way, costs $29.
            • Just checked now; it's 5-7% depending on who you ask. Maybe as high as ~10% if you restrict yourself US, which the GP didn't and I wouldn't tend to do either (not being American).

              Saying it costs $29 is kind of missing the point, because you can't legally install it for that $29 package without also paying Apple for a computer. It's effectively an update price for an OS you're supposed to already own the previous version of from a bundle purchase. If they drop that restriction and allow install on arbitra

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by marcansoft (727665)

        UEFI is extremely common. Modern laptop makers use it as a way to have a modern BIOS (e.g. InsydeH2O) instead of the horrible cesspool of 16-bit code that are traditional BIOSes. At least Acer and Sony seem to be using this kind of setup for all of their recent laptops for a few years now, and I'm pretty sure quite a few other manufacturers are doing the same.

        Unfortunately, most of the time the EFI features are completely inaccessible to the user and OS. They just add in the usual BIOS emulation layer, the

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by znerk (1162519)

          At least Acer and Sony seem to be using this kind of setup for all of their recent laptops for a few years now, and I'm pretty sure quite a few other manufacturers are doing the same.

          That's all I needed to hear...
          Sony:
          The same people who have no qualms about adding a rootkit to your windows-based PC if you have the audacity to put an audio CD in your drive.
          The same people that make the VAIO, which is one of the most ridiculous machines to have to work on if any of the hardware fails (and it does, repeatedly and often).
          The same people who sold a product, then removed half the features in the name of anti-piracy... causing the pirates to start hacking the DRM on their games, instead of pl

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nerdfest (867930)
        What's going on with OpenBIOS? It showed a lot of promise ...
      • by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:29PM (#34132060) Homepage Journal

        Every Intel brand motherboard since 2007 has had EFI. From what I can tell, this motherboard is an Intel brand, too.

      • by pchan- (118053) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @11:53PM (#34133020) Journal

        Every time Slashdot has a story of EFI, we get a thousand uninformed posts about what it is, isn't, what it should do and why it sucks. As someone who has worked on EFI for years, let me clear them up for you:

        1) EFI was designed by Intel as a replacement for BIOS. UEFI (edk2) is the second generation EFI, and is open source (see: http://tianocore.sourceforge.net [slashdot.org]). Intel delivers all of their boot support code as EFI drivers these days.

        2) EFI is NOT a graphical interface. Some Chinese motherboard makers created terrible graphical configuration applications for it. Apple created a pretty nice boot selector. It can just as easily "post" and give you a console-mode menu like you're used to.

        3) EFI is very common. All Apple computers use it. Most PC (Windows / Linux) laptops use it (your laptop probably does if it was made in the last 4 years). EFI drops into BIOS emulation mode after boot because Windows doesn't support it.

        4) EFI machines generally allocate a small EFI partition on the hard drive, particularly if they use GPT. All Intel-based machines boot from flash memory and would successfully boot without this partition. This partition is for additional EFI firmware volumes or drivers that can be dynamically loaded.

        5) EFI is much better than BIOS. It runs in full 32/64 bit mode. It can dynamically load drivers built into the ROM of your hardware (like a video card) and therefore doesn't have to rely on ancient backward-compatibility modes. It can run "apps", like a safe firmware updater so you don't have to boot your PC with a DOS boot disk to update the firmware. It can communicate a lot of configuration information to the OS and even provide hooks for some low level hardware-specific drivers. It can do things like boot from a network-shared CD-ROM drive or from a disk image stored on a USB stick (without resorting to making bootable partitions and jumping through a bunch of hoops like your average Linux USB stick). EFI can read FAT, NTFS, EXT2, HFS+ filesystems and boot the kernel directly from there (and the initrd image) without involving grub or other second stage boot loader. It can boot your GPT-tagged disks in your chosen order no matter what order you changed them around (take your boot drive, move it to a USB enclosure, boot from it).

        Booting Intel machines is really fucking complicated, and EFI makes it much simpler.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by oxygene2k2 (615758)

          Intel delivers all of their boot support code as EFI drivers these days.

          But not as open source. Tiano is a huge bunch of code, but the really interesting bits aren't in there.

          EFI is much better than BIOS. It runs in full 32/64 bit mode.

          coreboot welcomes you to 1999. Besides that: why is it that EFI exists in "either 32 or 64bit", instead of cleanly supporting both? The additional complexity of thunking libraries can't be it, as tiano already provides a runtime loader to resolve in-flash libraries...

          Booting Intel machines is really fucking complicated, and EFI makes it much simpler.

          Sorry, but EFI is fucking complicated, too. runtime linker - I rest my case.
          It's just that you don't have to care about this complexity when

    • I have a three year old "Intel Desktop Board" that can boot via UEFI, boot to 2TB+ drives, etc.

      It's not exactly new. (And I have a server from 2001

      It was common on Intel's high-end server boards, then it came to their entry level boards a few years ago. Now it is making it into the mainstream desktop boards. However, what Intel had on their server boards was quite slow to boot.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      The site video requires Flash, so I skipped the video.

      The pretty EFI screen makes it look like they're actually expecting the buyers of the board to be using EFI. With the exception of Intel Apple machines, few users actually used the EFI capability on boards that had it.

      Although the EFI screen looks nice, those thermometer-like displays for voltage don't really make much sense. It's not like showing a small indication for CPU voltage tells the user anything useful.
      If they'd wanted to do that, showing the

    • I've seen a lot of articles about how new and cool UEFI is going to be recently, they must be pushing some publicity to the media who are presumably publishing it on the grounds it sounds clever.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      and about the user interface..

      our 386dx had a bios interface that mimicked windows, mouse support and all. the 'windows' were hardcoded menus mostly, but still it did the visual trick.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:16PM (#34130550)

    That's pretty big for a driver. It would take me months to write something that big.

  • Drivers? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:18PM (#34130578)

    > boot from drivers larger than 2 TB

    Just what we need, more and bigger drivers!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:25PM (#34130664)

    When will the code bloat stop? What are they doing, including a look-up table for every memory address?

  • ..the ability to boot from drivers larger than 2 TB and faster boot times.

    That's some work to be able to load a +2TB driver and still have faster boot times. No how much RAM did I need for this?

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:27PM (#34130680) Journal

    Uneeffied Ixtenseeble-a Furmvere-a Interffece-a nemed heur tu tudey's beseec inpoot ooootpoot system thet elloos intrunce-a in iernest veet zee loonch ooff Intel Sundy Breedge-a et zee ind. Bork bork bork! UEFI kun leeknes feed itt nedbuntet oopereteefsystem sum öferkummer många ef de-a begränsneenger sum feenns i det uråldreega BIOS. UEFI is leeke-a a sceled-doon oopereteeng system vheech oofercumes muny ooff zee leemiteshuns ooff zee ege-a-oold BIOS.

    Noo in UEFI

    * Ebeelity tu mudern grepheecel interffece-a
    * Uppstert från legreengsenheter större-a än 2 TB Buut frum sturege-a defeeces lerger thun 2 TB
    * Snebbere-a uppstertsteeder Fester buut teemes
    * Flexeebel uppstert från oobegränsed mängd källur Flexeeble-a buut frum un unleemited fereeety ooff suoorces
    * CPOo-ooberuende-a erkeetektoor CPOo ercheetectoore-a independent
    * Foollt utbyggd prugremmeeljö Foolly fledged sufftvere-a infurunment
    * Stöd för dreefrootiner Sooppurt fur dreefers
    * Stöd för 32/64-beeters meennesedressering Sooppurt fur 32/64 beet memury eddresseeng
    * Efuncered säkerhet inklooseefe-a kryptereeng Edfunced secooreety incloodeeng incrypshun

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:47PM (#34130870)
      ... but how easy is it to recover when it gets bork, bork, borked?
    • by MBCook (132727)

      I would like to take this opportunity to point out that once, I believe in season 2 of The Muppet Show, it was revealed that the Swedish Chef was only faking speaking Mock Swedish., and that his primary language was actually Mock Japanese.

      And know you know, the rest of the story.

  • Microsoft (Score:3, Funny)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:34PM (#34130736) Journal
    I heard Microsoft is already working on a competitor to UEFI. It's called UFIA. ;-)
  • Eufi is not a BIOS, (Score:4, Informative)

    by Snufu (1049644) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:40PM (#34130824)

    It's just a Swedish cooking term.

    "Eufi deufi, peurfi dur." means "Add meatballs and simmer for 20 minutes."

    Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY_Yf4zz-yo [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mikael_j (106439)

      Actually, "Add meatballs and simmer for 20 minutes" would translate to something like "Lägg i köttbullar och låt sjuda i 20 minuter.".

  • by Snorbert Xangox (10583) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:19PM (#34131110)

    More than a decade after hard drives stopped internally using a fixed cylinder/head/sector geometry, we finally get mass market deployment of a partitioning scheme that completely gets rid of this big, dumb lie.

    All the hoo-haa over new drives with 4kB sectors and the way that DOS-compatible operating systems partitioning tools want you to lay out your disk has actually already been experienced by sysadmins for years, when they attempt to come up with partitioning schemes for those operating systems that align filesystem blocks with the underlying geometry of SSD write blocks or RAID 5 stripe segments.

    Next time you buy an SD card or thumb drive, stick it into a box with a decent formatting tool and look at the actual start sector for the partitions. You will find that the manufacturers have quietly been using sane partition start sector values (i.e., power of two, not "first sector of second track of cylinder 0") because they know that the performance of the device would be horrible if almost every VFAT cluster write spanned multiple flash write blocks.

    And all this stuffing around has been forced upon us because Microsoft never had the balls to say, "you want to rock out with Borland Sidekick or Netware 3.0? Sure, use a frickin' VM, or use a new version of DOS that speaks native LBA to the BIOS. Those are your choices."

    All the brainpower and effort that has been wasted on workarounds for the effects of the brain damaged MBR partitioning table could have been much better used actually improving how computers worked, rather than treading water.

  • I saw nothing new in the video clip; just the same old configuration options as before, except with a new, flashy interface. I don't see why that's necessary, but I suppose we should be grateful that they aren't foisting any animated paperclips on us.
    • by DarkXale (1771414) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:24PM (#34132036)
      Its less about appearance and more about adaptability. UEFI software is not as strict about which motherboard it runs on - and you can implement significantly more functionality into it, helped by the fact that its much easier to code for (C++ rather than Assembly). The fact that its capable of handling more than 64kilobytes of RAM helps for this as well. Its not based on code thats older than quite a number of posters here. Dozens and dozens of difficult (thus costly) modifications have had to be made to BIOS in order for it not to break modern systems. I remember when more than 128gb was unusable on a lot of machines because of BIOS; and frequently forced a complete motherboard replacement because BIOS just could not be reliably updated on a broad scale. The fact that its adaptability also permits greater ease of use is merely a bonus; its not its purpose. And it boots faster too. BIOS has been horribly mutilated and twisted into something it was never meant to do. It should've been replaced years ago.
  • by Hazelfield (1557317) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @07:01PM (#34131490)
    Hello and welcome to Sweclockers! Today we're looking at UEFI, the boot software that is the successor of the old but still very popular BIOS. UEFI has become a hot topic recently as it's going to be used extensively in the next generation of Intel processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge. So let us have a look at what it has to offer.

    The biggest difference between UEFI and BIOS is that UEFI gives motherboard manufacturers much better possibilities of implementing their own software. Our test motherboard comes from Asus, and the Taiwanese manufacturer has put in several exciting new features. To begin with you can use your mouse, which wasn't possible in BIOS, and there's also the possibility of running in several different modes. For example, there's this simplified mode that greets you when you enter UEFI. Here you can choose between power saving, normal setting or some kind of optimal setting. All settings are then adjusted automatically and you don't have to worry about it. Then there's this simple drag-and-drop system to choose boot order and some panels are available that show fan speeds and the like. Very simple and absolutely enough for anyone without any desire to dig into it.

    There's also a more advanced mode available through the menu here, and now it looks more familiar compared to BIOS. It works more or less the same way except the graphics are updated and there are more options. There are several menus available where you can change language, security settings, and there's this "AI Tweaker" where you can overclock the processor, just as you're used to from BIOS. The usual advanced settings for integrated components such as the processor etc. are there, and they work just as usual. The monitor settings where you can see temperature, fan speeds, set fan profiles and so on, also work just as in BIOS except it looks better and you can use your mouse which makes it easier to navigate. The boot settings contain some new features, for example you can just click one of the alternatives and the computer boots from that device, you don't have to enter a special menu or anything. Finally in the last menu, there are some tools, Asus' flash tool to update the BIOS, which itself is also updated with new features. You can easily use your mouse to pick a BIOS version from hard disks or USB storage that you want to use on your motherboard.

    Well, that's just a quick look on an implementation of UEFI for the next generation Intel platform. With the possibilities offered by this new system we will likely see new interesting solutions in the near future. We at Sweclockers will of course cover this development and report as much as we can until the final release.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      UEFI gives motherboard manufacturers much better possibilities of implementing their own software.

      That is not a plus.

  • One thing that disappoints me about current UEFI motherboards is that you still need to have certain files at certain locations on your primary hard disk. Specifically my new EFI based system required me to partition my hard drive so that there is an EFI System partition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EFI_System_partition [wikipedia.org]

    This EFI System partition is a variant of the FAT file system that contains the EFI bootloader. When i heard of EFI i assumed there'd be a bit of flash on the motherboard to store the EFI bo

  • Is it going to need the sacrifice of a megabyte of my harddisk - just like EFI ? Or will it be content to live in its own solid state somewhere. Didn't RTFA by the way, it probably shows.

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