Oct 052010
 
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Those frustrating boot-up moments while we wait an absolute age for our computers to load up are set to get somewhat shorter with the impending retirement of system BIOS. Despite now being a very old technology and relatively stuck in its ways, the BIOS is still found in many modern machines. Instead of taking around 25 – 30 seconds before giving the all-clear for an operating system to start, a new kid on the block is well on its way to offering instant-on. It’s not quite there yet, but the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is getting closer.

That void before the welcome arrival of an operating system’s splash screen has caused frustration and annoyance for almost as many years as BIOS software has been running. The software is stored on a chip that sits on a computer’s main board and jumps to life as soon as the start button is pressed. The job of a computer’s BIOS (which stands for basic input/output system) is to identify and enable all of the hardware periphery attached to a computer before the operating system starts.

In addition to informing the operating system of the existence of the graphics card, keyboard, mouse, storage and optical drives and so on, the BIOS is also where the system clock is set and hardware is configured by the user. It’s been around for a long time, and the once-central role it played in the operation of a computer system has become less and less important over the years. Now, it looks set for retirement.

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