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Soon BIOS Will Be Replaced and Your PC Will Boot Almost Instantly

The screen that you see when your computer first starts is known as the BIOS, and it’s based on a really old technology that is finally being replaced with something better—and it will make your PC boot faster, too.

The new BIOS replacement is known as UEFI, or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, and according to the BBC, it’s going to be the default in new PCs by 2011, bringing lots of benefits including serious speed enhancements:

the biggest obvious benefit of a machine running UEFI will be the speed with which it starts up. “At the moment it can be 25-30 seconds of boot time before you see the first bit of OS sign-on,” he said. “With UEFI we’re getting it under a handful of seconds.”

“In terms of boot speed we’re not at instant-on yet but it is already a lot better than conventional Bios can manage,” he said “and we’re getting closer to that every day.”

Change to ‘Bios’ will make for PCs that boot in seconds [BBC News]

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/1/10

Comments (38)

  1. TheBeard

    interesting. Thanks for posting

  2. Matt

    Would you have to get a new pc or could you update an old pc by takeing out the BIos and puting that in???

  3. Isaiah J

    Is it just me, or does anyone else notice that Apple has been using EFI for quite some time now? It doesn’t seem THAT much faster than a BIOS, and one can’t really configure any settings… Perhaps this UEFI will be better?

  4. Alex

    Man, i`ve been hearing about EFI for at least 5 years, every year being “next year will be the time for EFI!”
    And nothing happened.

  5. Paul

    Just like a Tandy TRS-80?

  6. BigJohnT

    My VIC-20 was “instant on”.
    C:>_
    No clunky GUI.
    Compuserv for internet @$0.26/minute dial-up and blazing 3kb/sec without clunky graphics.
    Had a big map on the wall showing the internet.
    Really fun!!
    Great dot matrix printer with a huge box of paper on the floor. Ink ribbons were really fun to install and you could refill them with stamp pad ink several times. High end printers even had two-color ribbons! Red and black. All you had to do to print was type in “open 5.1.1 ” or some such command and listen from anywhere in the neighborhood to your printer spitting out yards of tractor fed paper.
    Good old days.
    j

  7. Venom

    I hope old sysytem could be replaced with this new tech

  8. Matt

    Would you have to get a new pc or could you update an old pc by takeing out the Bios and puting that one in???

  9. Groff

    I’d like to think my twitter post linking the BBC article has something to do with this post ;)

  10. Jerry

    Good post. Hope it is updatable. Else it is waste of time on my system

  11. Camilo Martin

    What are other benefits?

    “Instant-On” means almost nothing to me, if it’s less configurable than a BIOS I stick with a BIOS. If it has more capabilities (maybe the guys behind Linux kernel can make it faster at run-time for UEFI?) then I’m in.

  12. Zack

    My BIOS isn’t that slow? It takes a couple seconds to see the “first sign of the OS” on my computer. I’m literally at the login page within about 10-15 seconds and that’s because Ubuntu is loading. BIOS is about 2 seconds before it gets to GRUB. I don’t see the advantage… Mind you my BIOS is on a computer from about 2004-2006. I just put in better RAM and hard drive, but it’s running a good ol’ P4 2.8 GHz processor.

  13. Tony H

    Pointless. BIOS starts up in about 4/5 seconds. It’s windows that take over 1 minute to start !!

  14. MaximumBob

    Just like a Linco-61?
    I agree about the configureation.
    How the heck are you going to ajust any settings.
    Also Ive heard about this a long time ago and Ive yet
    to see it!

  15. graham carr

    ide do allmost anything to get my windows xp professional to start up faster 10 to 15 mins at the momentive tried all the tricks in the book maybe

  16. David Aris-Sutton

    Seems a bit pointless, after all it isn’t the bloody bios that takes ages its windoze, my system is 9 seconds from power to ubuntu desktop, or 25 seconds to win 7 desktop.

    Graham, re-install your xp man, or just get a better pc

  17. ChildofGod60

    How will or will not this action affect pre-existing computers?

  18. la

    this wont affect preexisting pc’s because its not gonna happen

  19. la

    and i agree wwith the general consensus on this thread: there is no reason to trade current bios custom-ability for a few seconds at start-up and windows us the culprit for long “power-on to desktop” time. either way, screw osx.

  20. Wayne Lloyd

    Guys I must add that just because you don’t see the bios screen anymore it doesn’t mean that it still not working in hand with the os to help it load.

  21. Graham Adam

    I would suggest that this is perhaps one off the biggest moves in the operating system in a long time

  22. BigJohnT

    Linux has been doing it for years.
    For the rest of you, your chipset and Mobo must support it. There are a few Mobo’s available now.
    Read the linked article to see what this concept is all about.
    No, you can’t just throw away your bios chip and stick a new one in.

  23. ProstheticHead

    Great, I’ve just finished building my PCs and smoothed out all the creases and now this? Guess I’ll have to start all over again.. Such is the life of a geek, sigh.

  24. LEE

    Isaiah J you’re right, but don’t hope much with UEFI more than a new interface and an extra option to let
    you hate your own PC and run to the latest tech,,,slavery to the technology. Technically, I agree very well with TONI H. .

  25. Gary

    I just timed a reboot (Linux 10.04) on my P4-3G, 21 seconds to desktop. No hurry here to upgrade!

  26. Linda Higgins

    i try to get my system recovery partitions back onto my laptop so i want to format on f3 on my laptops so i deleted systems recovery partition by accident anyone who can help me get it back so my computer is vista and i got a two disc from Medion so the disc doesnt support because the recovery partition is missing on my computer so it wont let me format on F3 on the Laptops will you email me the whole step by step instruction about system recovery partitions is deleted by accident i need your help so bios is missing too so my laptops crash and freeze cos system recovery partitions is missing

  27. Ruby

    Went to turn on the computer this morning on nothing, tried unplugging, repluging, 5 second power, the green light on the back of the computer is on so its not the power supply. Tried the hp online support, they were no help and a bit rude. Any suggestions?

  28. Heinz Frick

    I have been using/repairing computers for the past 20 years. That short statement that reporter calls an article is 100% nonsense! First, there is mention of lots of benefits including reduced start up time. There was NO mention of any because there are none. I still have an old dell circa 2000, and the BIOS will complete POST in 4 seconds and go on to hand off the boot process to the MBR. Of course there were fewer on board components for the BIOS to preform POST on during start up back then but today, my UD Gigabyte motherboard will have me looking at my Windows 7 Ultimate desktop—completely booted—in exactly 10 seconds!!! 5 seconds of that is spent looking for, and adding my two Raptor 10,000 RPM HDDs to make them selves available for the RAID 0 volume setup on the ARECA PCI-X RAID Card, let me make this perfectally CLEAR—its the RAID controller that is holding up my boot for 5 seconds! The BIOS completes POST in about 1 second!!! Second, I want some control of what the BIOS settings are….all I have to say is STOP PLAYING AROUND WITH THINGS THAT WORK AS THEY SHOULD and make up LIES to back your case!!!

  29. Heinz Frick

    Let me do a PS:
    Of course moving forward with tech is wonderful, however, the average PC user (grandma doing email to heavy HEAVY Photoshop, Audodesk, Soundforge, Protools, user) can do just about ANYTHING they want with a current computer setup–BIOS has NOTHING do to with it. The only benefit so far is BIG CORP getting more control over what/how you use your computer, and at some point SOON, controlling your media content….its all about MONEY.

  30. Jefrey

    wow it must be Ubuntu fan day today looking at the amount of silly comments. Grats with your fast booting. Back to the normal world however, where nearly every major company and consumer uses windows or apple, this change (if it gets through) will be a welcome change.

  31. Rafael Minuesa

    Since 20 years ago the Amiga computer has been able to boot up and have a functional desktop before you even had time to properly sit down.

    So, no big news, really.

  32. Roger Jermyn

    I remember the vic. I still have mine, although now defunct.
    Still have my TI/44a. Damn I am old.

  33. Darryl C Gardner

    I’m thinking boot sector virus when asking this – although there are other attack modes as well, how secure is UEFI, or will it simply give hackers a faster target?

    I believe John Dvorak or Jim Seymour mentioned something else a few years ago. Knowing that general purpose memory chips are virtually dirt cheap, it should be relatively easy to save everything to non-volatile RAM when shutting a computer down, and equally easy on rebooting to return to the point at which you left off with – no saving data, reloading application and data steps required. Has anyone worked on that aspect?

    I’m one of those who happens to like reusing what still works rather than having to completely start over each time the calendar changes, or Bill Gates wants another billion, or whatever.

    I’m thinking of motherboards requiring a minimum version OS, say XP or later, to operate, when asking this, what does UEFI mean for those of us who may upgrade our system piecemeal and aren’t likely to buy a whole new computer every year? Will any of our old equipment still work, or do we have to replace our OS, keyboard, mouse, video cards, hard drives, flash drives, etc., i.e everything but the power cord.

  34. Darryl C Gardner

    @Graham Carr:

    My 5-year old Athlon64-based system starts in about a minute or so on XP Pro, and about half that on Ubuntu 10.04. By “starts” I mean reaches the point where you must choose a user and enter a password.

    Incidentally, I do not dual-boot. Each OS is on its own physical hard drive, a lesson learned more times than I care to remember because each time Windows crashed it took the whole world down in the process, including messing Linux up so badly it had to be reinstalled (even though it was on a separate partition as required), and having to reinstall Windows and all its applications – as well as go through resetting all my preferences – single click, etc. It doesn’t take many times of doing that to get OLD.

    Each computer has to follow a routine when booting, but 10+ minutes? I’m surprised at your system taking so long. The list of suspects can be long, but the ones I suspect most are:

    1 – you have an “older” computer,

    2 – at startup you are trying to load every application you’ve got,

    3 – are getting clobbered by anti-virus software delays, or

    4 – some combination of the above.

    By older, I am referring to a 486 or earlier CPU. Linux performs acceptably well with a middle-speed 486-based system, but despite Microsoft’s claims to the contrary, Windows demands lots of horsepower – processor, RAM, an storage.

    If your computer is more than 5 years old, seriously consider a new computer. I’ve seen decently equipped barebones ones in the $400 to $600 range. I recommend a minimum of dual-core, 64-bit processor, 500Gb hard drive, 3Gb RAM, DVD burner, and separate video card. They usually include an operating system.

    Unless you are extremely cramped for space, get a large case so you’ll have room to add something later without having to go external. And get at least a 500-watt power supply regardless of how few things you will have. All electronic equipment needs stable operating voltages, and operating equipment near its limits is a good way to shorten its life drastically – maybe in minutes instead of years.

    Why? Sooner or later you will want to do more than one thing at a time, 64-bit applications will arrive within a couple of years, and don’t ever skimp on storage or memory, unless I’m badly mistaken. I thought I was wrong once, but as it turned out I was mistaken.

    Since RAM is dirt-cheap, if you haven’t done so already, populate your present computer’s memory slots with all the RAM it will address – check the motherboard’s specs. Incidentally, XP-32′s limit is 3GB of RAM regardless of anything else. XP-64 can address lots more, I believe a terrabyte or more. Don’t ask me what terrabyte is, but it’s a little smaller than a gazillion.

    Be careful of costs when adding memory to an old computer. Since earlier memory is not the most popular now, you may have to pay more for memory than the old beast is worth.

    If you’re trying to run XP on less than a “586″ invest in something a lot faster than you presently have.

    Anytime your computer has to load software, it takes up space in RAM and requires timing cycles for anything to happen. Generally the larger the program, the greater its requirements.

    As an aside, not too many years ago someone suggested the amount of memory that AutoCad and PhotoShop could handle was UNLIMITED. Go figure.

    I won’t elaborate here, but check sources to see what is being installed at startup and see if some programs can be eliminated. But be careful to not remove anything mandatory.

    Also make sure the “swap space” is at least 10% of the total hard drive capacity. And make sure the hard drive is not close to full. If its anything over 70% to 75%, get out the checkbook.

    Incidentally, audio and video files take a ton of storage space. If you add a hard drive, get a big one (500Gb or 1Tb are reasonably priced) and put such files on the new one. I know, practically everyone says the opposite, but I believe this will work well and that way you only have to move them one time to a new drive rather than copying them again after each crash.

    Anti-virus software is notorious in fighting other similar software, at least to the extent of causing extremely long boot times if you are running more than one such software. I guess each of them considers the other to be the devil’s work and refuses to get on with the task at hand.

    Lastly, make sure your anti-virus software has the latest files. Hackers are sneaky. They create and unleash new viruses each minute, 24/7.

    If you are familiar with doing so, I suggest running a test. Install and use a separate hard drive (freshly formatted to get rid of EVERYTHING, at least 10Gb will do nicely for the first step, but you may need 20+Gb if you are going to add many applications), set it up as primary channel, master. Don’t have any other hard drives attached for this, and don’t be part of a network.

    Do a full format, and a fresh install of XP. When you are done, reboot as required. Don’t connect to the Internet. In fact, be sure the modem/ethernet cable is not connected. The fewer variables the better.

    Microsoft will worry the crap out of you trying to get you to register/activate the new installation. Don’t do either, and don’t get online period. Don’t worry about not having Microsoft’s latest updates. You’re trying to solve problems without unnecessary complications.

    Don’t install any anti-virus or other malware checking software. You’re offline and shouldn’t be susceptible.

    Play with it a few days, adding one application at a time, and each time check the results. Keep a written list of what is installed and the boot time for each set of software. I suspect you will either find one application is causing the delay, or a combination of anti-viruses.

    After you’ve done all that, go back to your present installation and see if

    If you aren’t familiar with doing any of the steps above, by all means get someone knowledgeable to help you.

    In case you haven’t already suspected, I’m a Linux fan, although I still have to use Windows for some applications. It is not perfect, but I’m sold on its benefits, mostly without the nonsense associated with Microsoft’s 800-pound gorilla. And, of course, Linux like any other OS, benefits from bigger and faster everything as well.

    Hope this helps, and best wishes.

  35. Darryl C Gardner

    @ Graham Carr (cont’d)

    While rearranging sentences in my previous comment, I inadvertently cut off something important.

    The 4th paragraph from the end should have stated: After you’ve done all that, go back to your present installation and see if you can change the settings for the program you found was causing the huge delay.

    “Windows XP MVP, Most Valuable Professional” by John Barnett is quite helpful. Starting page 590 is a section entitled “Speeding Up Boot Time”. I hope the author doesn’t mind; two items are shown:

    - Older device drivers can greatly slow down boot time.

    - Programs can slow down boot time.

    The moral of this story: Make sure your device drivers (MB, Video Card, Printer, Scanner, possibly Keyboard, Mouse, and others) are up to date.

    You can see what is trying to load at Startup by clicking on: Start | Run | type in msconfig to get to the System Configuration Utility. Headings thereunder are: General, System.ini, Boot.ini, Services, and Startup.

    “Startup” lists programs that run at startup. If you earlier determined which program(s) were running in molasses, one-by-one uncheck their box and keep track of what happens. MVP cautions to “be sure that you know what programs you are disabling before doing so. Some of the programs that you see here affect other programs, and so you should do a little homework.”

    One other possibility, which I doubt applies as you are not dual-booting, nevertheless I will pass it on. Use Notepad to open your boot.ini file, usually in C:boot.ini and usually hidden. It may contain a line about timeout. If it does and the value is significantly larger, change it to 10, save the file and reboot.

    I highly recommend MVP to all XP users who want to dig into their ‘puter. It is 621 pages, plus index. I bought mine on Amazon a couple of years ago, about $10.00 including shipping. At the time Vista was becoming the hot ticket and XP books were becoming inexpensive, so I got a couple of others as well.

    As with all books, MVP is not perfect but it does an excellent job (and it isn’t 1000+ pages like a lot). I highly recommend it, and NO I don’t get anything from recommending it except in hopes it will help someone solve a problem or make their ‘puter work better.

    I should clarify something else. As far as I know any 32-bit OS can address a maximum of 3Gb of RAM, and any 64-bit version can address up to I think a terrabyte. Similarly, the 64-bit version can address much more hard drive space than the 32-bit one.

    Best wishes.

  36. Darryl C Gardner

    @ Graham Carr (cont’d)

    I found more info in a couple of other books: “Hacking Windows XP”, by Steve Sinchak, and “Windows XP Solutions, 2nd Edn”, by Neil Randall, of PC Magazine.

    I won’t elaborate, but each has useful info in setting up your XP-based ‘puter and avoiding problems. As with MVP in my previous post, I’ve had mine a couple of years, got them at Amazon.

    I’d recommend both of them, and MVP, if you plan to keep using XP. I haven’t priced them in a long time, but having printed info at hand beats trying to get online with a misbehaving machine and trying to get answers.

    And, the authors could probably use the cash.

    Best wishes.

  37. Mott

    @Matt

    You can pull out the old BIOS and put the new one in, all you need is a hammer

  38. Ayam

    What is the “real” benefit of this? As if this “NEW” technology can/will increase productivity/efficiency/profitability.

    Yeah, our profit has increased by 200% in a week since our servers and desktops use UEFI. Our staff work faster by being able to login to their dekstops 3 seconds faster than it used to.

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