UEFI News and Commentary

Friday, January 24, 2014

UEFI: A Retrospective

This nifty article by my friend and co-author Vincent Zimmer takes a look at the UEFI specification from his perspective as one of its early proponents within Intel, as an author (Beyond BIOS), and more recently as a steward of the specification and innovator post-UEFI.

From my perspective as a BIOS architect, the process was never a smooth one. The rise of the industry specification bodies is something we take for granted. If you look at older PC specifications, like ACPI and APM and BBS, they were cooperatively developed by a small cadre of companies, like Microsoft, Toshiba, Phoenix and Compaq. As EFI was coming along from Intel, the BIOS vendors were also developing standards and promoting these standards. Never heard of PowerBIOS from Award? Or how about Manticore or CSI from Phoenix? With the industry standards group approach, any one of these could have become what UEFI is now. Maybe. If the originating company was willing to loosen their grip. It was, in accepting this key point, what allowed Intel and their partners like HP to gain critical agreement within the PC ecosystem.

Sometimes relinquishing control gets you what you want, but the process is more chaotic. Certainly true for UEFI.


William Thomas said...

I’ve been a casual observer of UEFI for a few years now and I’ve recently jumped into the shallow end of the pool by starting to experiment with UEFI Applications, and Shell scripts; strictly for the foreseeable future an “end user”. After reading a section in “Beyond BIOS” entitled “Embedded Systems: The New Challenge” I have a question, I hope it does not enrage the ‘mindguards’ as I’m probably addressing a mainly Intel audience.

I know that UEFI has made inroads onto the ARM processors, but do you ever think that UEFI will be successful to the point of finding its way onto non-intel platforms such as Texas Instrument DSP’s or dare I say even Freescale processors?

It would seem that if UEFI could eventually proliferate on these primarily embedded architectures where hardly any semblance of standard preboot environment exists, .... Well that would truly be a measure of success beyond anyone’s dreams.

Tim Lewis said...

Agree on your points. The main thing that is necessary is a sufficiently large user base that wants something more than single-function devices, booting a single device with a single OS target. In these cases, the software stack is pretty vertical. There isn't the interop problem, so the need for industry standards like UEFI isn't felt as keenly.

In ARM it didn't really start until people started moving out of the client/embedded space into servers. That's why, in organizations like Linaro, it is in the Enterprise group.

So for the other CPUs you mention, it needs a diverse industry base and it needs a compelling use case. There is nothing in the technology that wouldn't work, but it does take some initial heavy lifting.

Michał Ciesielski said...


I'm just starting programming in UEFI, im trying to build simple applications now.
Can you send me samples of simple applications, like 'HelloWorld' or displaying graphics?


I think that could help me a lot.

Thanks in advance.

Unknown said...