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Intel to push BIOS replacement with 'Centrino 4'

EFI to be used in 'Santa Rosa' reference boards

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Intel will drive the adoption of the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) with the introduction of 'Santa Rosa', the next generation of its Centrino notebook platform, it has been claimed. So far, the only Intel-based machines on the market that use EFI instead of older BIOS technology are Apple's latest desktops and notebooks.

Come Q1 2007, that situation may change. According to BIOS specialist American Megatrends, its EFI-compatible Aptio system has been selected by Intel as a key component of the chip giant's Santa Rosa reference boards. In the short term, the company said, Intel will "test and validate" Aptio for compliance with both EFI, Unified EFI (UEFI), and the Intel Platform Innovation Framework, the chip giant's own implementation of EFI and UEFI.

Santa Rosa first emerged earlier this year, but was confirmed by Intel at its Spring Developer Forum in March. Intel's official timeframe for Santa Rosa calls for an H1 2007 introduction, though industry sources have suggested a late Q1 2007 window.

Santa Rosa will incorporate 'Merom', the upcoming dual-core mobile chip derived from Intel's next-generation processor archictecture, along with 'Crestine', the notebook version of the 965 chipset family due to ship next quarter. Completing the Centrino triad is 'Kedron', the platform's wireless adaptor, which is set to support high-speed 802.11n.

Current versions of Windows do not support EFI, which is why Intel-based Macs require extra code if they're to run the Microsoft OS. It has been said that Windows Vista will not support EFI - the pre-release versions certainly don't seem to - but given the proximity of its early 2007 debut and the launch of Santa Rosa, that may change. ®

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