EFI and You

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EFI and You

Just before the first IntelMacs came out, Apple announced that its systems would boot up using something called EFI rather than the good old BIOS.

What is EFI? EFI is Intel’s successor to BIOS. EFI will make booting up better and faster while making it easier for hardware folks to write firmware code for their devices. Go here if you want to know more than that, and here for even more.

Certain Intel motherboards already have EFI as an option in place, and EFI was scheduled to start replacing BIOSes in PCs during 2006. Apple is just the first to implement it as the norm. Yes, AMD is in on this; you might want to look here for additional information/contact points on this.

To make EFI work:

  • the motherboard must support it and
  • the OS must either support it, or . . . .

    For those drooling over dual-booting, regular 32-bit Windows XP doesn’t currently support EFI. All 64-bit OSs can. Vista will.

    Can an EFI motherboard boot an OS that doesn’t support it? Yes, it can, provided the motherboard contains in its ROM firmware a Compatibility Support Module, which basically makes EFI look like BIOS to the OS.

    At least one OEM has written such a thing, Gateway, so it’s certainly doable.

    Or the OS writer can make the OS EFI compatible.

    The issue is not can this be done; it certainly can, but rather will it be done, it almost certainly will not, officially.

    Apple/whoever makes the ROM for them would have to provide a CSM; they seem to have zero interest in that.

    Conversely, from what MS has said on the subject at various conference, the attitude at Redmond is: “We’ll do it with Vista. If you want it before then, go write yourself a CSM.” Someone did recently ask MS about this, so you might want to check the site sometime soon for a fresh opinion.

    A good possible reason why neither party is too interested is that neither wants to jeopardize future Virtual PC sales**

    This leaves as the only real possibility before Vista some, well, unofficial, CSM writing. Frankly, I’m clueless as to how possible this will be, but something tells me that if it gets done, these folks will find out about it and mention it.

    Because, frankly, legalities aside, the typical person interested in this who goes to this website is less interested in bringing Windows to a Mac than bringing MacOS X to his PC. 🙂

    ** The article says that the MS people are going to have to start from scratch with Virtual PC. Well, obviously they’ll have to toss the PowerPC stuff, but how hard can it be to emulate an x86 processor on an x86 processor? Obviously, you still need code to run Windows on MacOS X, but even that should be somewhat simpler, if new.

    What I think these two ought to be thinking more about is less emulation and more virtualization. Or will that not require a separate program at all?

    Ed


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