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The Evolution of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface

Embedded Systems: The New Challenge

As the UEFI took off and became pervasive, a new challenge has been taking shape in the form of the PC platform evolution to take on the embedded devices, more specifically the consumer electronic devices, with a completely different set of requirements driven by user experience factors like instant power-on for various embedded operating systems. Many of these operating systems required customized firmware with OS-specific firmware interfaces and did not fit well into the PC firmware eco-system model.

The challenge now is to make the embedded platform firmware have similar capabilities to the traditional model such as the being OS-agnostic, being scalable across different platform hardware, and being able to lessen the development time to port and to leverage the UEFI standards.

Does the Boot Process Differ?

Figure 9 indicates that between the normal boot and an optimized boot, there are no design differences from a UEFI architecture point of view. Optimizing a platform’s performance does not mean that one has to violate any of the design specifications. It should also be noted that to comply with UEFI, one does not need to encompass all of the standard PC architecture, but instead the design can limit itself to the components that are necessary for the initialization of the platform itself. Chapter 2 in the UEFI 2.3 specification does enumerate the various components and conditions that comprise UEFI compliance.

[Click image to view at full size]
Figure 9: Architectural Boot Flow Comparison.


We have provided some rationale in this article for the changes from Beyond BIOS: Implementing the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface with Intel’s Framework to Beyond BIOS: Developing with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. These elements include the industry members’ ownership and governance of the UEFI specification. Beyond this sea change, we've described the migration of the Framework specifications to PI specification and the evolution of PI over the former Framework feature set; the evolution of the UEFI specification; and some of the codebase technology.

For more information on implementing UEFI with Intel's Framework, please refer to our book Beyond BIOS: Developing with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, 2nd Edition .

This article is based on material found in book Beyond BIOS: Developing with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, 2nd Edition by Vincent Zimmer, Michael Rothman, and Suresh Marisetty. More on similar subjects may be found in the Intel Technology Journal.

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