Software

NEWS BRIEF

Intel Opens BIOS to Industry

Intel announced today it is working with CollabNet to release the Foundation code of Intel’s next-generation firmware technology under the Common Public License (CPL) later this year. More than 20 years old, the BIOS — the Basic Input-Output System — is one of the oldest software technologies in the PC platform. It operates in the preboot environment, which is the first few seconds after a PC is turned on and before the operating system loads.

Intel’s firmware Foundation code — a result of the project codenamed “Tiano” — provides that the successor to the BIOS will be based on up-to-date software. According to Intel, the move is designed to help extend BIOS software with new features and services, such as improved platform manageability, serviceability and administrative interfaces that are too complex to implement in the old BIOS environment.

Complete firmware products based on this technology are available from participating BIOS vendors American Megatrends and Insyde Software.

Preboot Firmware

“Because preboot firmware is a vital ingredient in all modern platforms, silicon vendors and system manufacturers require stability in the Foundation code to protect their investment in innovation,” said Will Swope, vice president and general manager of the software and solutions group at Intel. “They expect unfettered access and collaborative control of changes so that interoperability can be maintained.”

Intel will release core Foundation code from its firmware technology as well as a firmware driver development kit. The Foundation code released by Intel will help ensure that modular firmware drivers written in C support silicon from multiple vendors and can be integrated together. Under the CPL, any change in the Foundation code itself and the development kit made by one company will be visible and available to all.

Intel’s firmware project is an implementation of the Extensible Firmware Interface. The EFI specification details an interface to help hand off control of the system from the preboot environment to next-generation operating systems. EFI is supported by most popular 64-bit OS implementations and platforms, and is an emerging interface for 32-bit operating systems.

Intel, CollabNet and the CPL

The project represents more than 200 person years of development by Intel’s China Software Center in Shanghai, and Intel software labs in Oregon and Washington. CollabNet is a leading provider of Internet-based technologies for collaborative development for standalone software, firmware, chipsets and systems.

CPL is an approved open-source initiative license, allowing for a collaborative industry development while preserving participants’ ability to create commercial products. Additional information on CPL is available at www.opensource.org.

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