MicroStar International (MSI), one of the world’s largest makers of computer mainboards and other components, plans to start transition to Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) in February of 2008. It is unclear how long the transition takes, but once it kicks off, there will hardly be a way back to Basic Input Output System (BIOS) used today.
The first mainboard from MSI for the channel market to use EFI will be P35 Neo3, which is powered by Intel P35 core-logic and supports Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel Core 2 Extreme as well as various other LGA775 central processing units (CPUs). According to a news-story by HKEPC web-site, MSI P35 Neo 3’s EFI will support several languages and more precise system settings for tweaking. In order to further popularize EFI, MSI reportedly even embedded three simplistic games into EFI to allow users to play them while the operating system is loaded by the PC.
UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) will be a specification detailing an interface that helps hand off control of the system for the pre-boot environment (i.e.: after the system is powered on, but before the operating system starts) to an operating system, such as Windows or Linux. UEFI will provide a “clean” interface between operating systems and platform firmware at boot time, and will support an architecture-independent mechanism for initializing add-in cards.
EFI is already supported by a number of 64-bit operating systems and platforms, and is an emerging interface for 32-bit operating systems. The inclusion of UEFI in operating systems and platforms will advance interoperability between platforms and add-in cards and pave the way for improvements in boot performance and robustness. The Forum will review the present EFI 1.10 Specification, which was developed by Intel Corp. for any required changes, and intends to publish the first Unified EFI specification by the end of 2005. The Forum will also make available test suites for the UEFI Specification based on contributions from member companies.
Currently the list of UEFI Forum participants includes AMD, American Megatrends, Dell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Insyde, Intel, Microsoft and Phoenix Technologies.
MSI P35 Neo3 mainboard is due in February, however, it is unclear whether it will cost more or less compared to similar motherboards that feature BIOS. It is claimed that once P35 Neo3 proves to be viable in retail, MSI starts to manufacture wider range of mainboards featuring EFI instead of BIOS.