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Merced: what meaneth the Extensible Firmware Interface?

Or how to boot your IA-64 chip into shape

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Intel Developer Forum Intel programme manager Mark Doran outlined the spec for the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) at IDF in Palm Springs last week. This will replace the current system for booting PCs. The EFI spec is superior because it's implementation-agnostic; it separates the BIOS from the operating system; it is modular and extensible and complements existing interfaces. EFI will use high level language protected mode code, and provide a level of abstraction as an OS loader, according to Doran. The new partition structure will allow 64-bit sizes, an unlimited number of partitions and will co-exist with legacy MBRs (master boot records). EFI will also support multiple OS installs and multiple system partitions. EFI will support boots from hard drives, removable media including CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, floppies, the LS-120, the Iomega Zip and Fujitsu magneto-optical (MO) drives, as well as booting from the network using the PXE BIOS support spec. Run time services will include boot time and runtime, a wakeup alarm, and system reset, while boot services will include image loading of drivers, applications and the OS loader, as well as a so-called watchdog timer. Console services will be abstracted for flexibility and will include both graphics and CLI based console services. These, and other facilities of EFI, are likely to be available in the first quarter next year, he predicted. AMI and Phoenix will both support EFI, while all of the IA-64 operating systems will be released with support. The code will be released with a simple shrinkwrap licence, while there will also be downloadable code for the implementation. ® Full IDF Summer 99 coverage

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