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GNU is Not Unix Intel Power Hardware

Intel Announces a BIOS Implementation Test Suite 66

Posted by timothy
from the gnu-way-to-look-at-things dept.
Josh Triplett writes "Intel announced the release of a BIOS Implementation Test Suite (BITS), a bootable pre-OS environment based on GNU GRUB2 that tests how well (or how badly) your BIOS has configured your platform hardware. BITS also includes Intel's official power management reference code, so you can override your BIOS's initialization with a known-good configuration. 'In addition to those changes to GRUB2 itself, BITS includes configuration files which build a menu exposing the various BITS functionality, including the test suites, hardware configuration, and exploratory tools. These scripts detect your system's CPU, and provide menu entries for all the available functionality on your hardware platform. You can also access all of the new commands we've added directly via the command line.'"
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Intel Announces a BIOS Implementation Test Suite

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:00AM (#35310664)
  • by nabil2199 (1142085) on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:02AM (#35310674)

    It doesn't have intel VT
    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=29753 [intel.com]

  • by tropophobia (867619) on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:04AM (#35310688) Homepage
    BIOS does actually very little these days. The OS re-initializes most devices anyway on boot, using BIOS values only for reference. From first look, this release kind of makes BIOS obsolete. If it knows how to fix BIOS misconfiguration, then it can also configure it in the first place. The rest can be taken care by the OS.
  • by Cyrano de Maniac (60961) on Friday February 25, 2011 @12:56PM (#35313262)

    BIOS does actually very little these days. The OS re-initializes most devices anyway on boot

    Well, actually being a BIOS developer, I can state with absolute confidence that you're wrong about BIOS doing very little these days.

    The BIOS these days takes care of an incredible amount of work, such as detecting, training, testing, and configuring RAM, initializing the CPU state on many cores, configuring the interconnect between processors (QPI on some recent Intel processors, HT on AMD), setting up system memory maps, probing and setting up the entire IO fabric, building tables (e.g. ACPI) that fully describe every nitty-gritty aspect of the system to the OS, make your USB keyboard and mouse functional for ancient OSes, work around problems in hardware, have small drivers for accessing myriad devices for reading blocks from boot devices, in the case of EFI/UEFI manage options for boot ordering as well as bazillions of basic system settings, actually implementing each and every one of those bazillion settings, handle all sorts of hardware abstractions in the form of BIOS/EFI calls, manage and configure IO BARs, provide code to handle all sorts of potential correctable (and sadly sometimes uncorrectable) hardware errors, in some cases provide disaster fallback paths if you manage to corrupt the main BIOS image, in the case of EFI provide a runtime environment for pre-OS applications, etc. -- and do all of this with absolutely nothing underneath it other than hardware. If you think this is "very little", I'd encourage you to find a job developing BIOS code, and I think you'd be overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the codebase in a modern BIOS. Just the source code trees these days push a fair bit over the 100MB level. Seriously.

    Having also worked on OSes and kernel-level device drivers, it is true that the OS re-initializes a fair bit of the hardware, but not nearly the level of hardware the BIOS initializes (have fun trying to re-train RAM or reconfigure the CPU interconnect, for example). If anything the trend has been toward the BIOS taking on greater and greater responsibility for device initialization and provision of runtime services to make the OS less aware of "quirks" in the hardware. That's not to say there isn't a ton of work the OS still has to do, but your statement vastly over-trivializes the role of the BIOS in modern machines.

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