Starting with the original IBM PC, BIOS served as a basic library of input/output functions, as well as hardware configuration and Operating System (OS) boot loader firmware. The role of BIOS changed greatly over time, and along the way it also picked up functions such as power control, thermal management and hot swapping via the ACPI standard. Today, the role of BIOS has evolved to become OS-independent boot loader and video initialization firmware based on the UEFI framework.
But while BIOS is rooted in three decades of PC market evolution, non-x86 embedded systems have long relied on simpler, faster, less complex, royalty-free boot loaders. BIOS does offer increased functionality, which may be useful in certain embedded applications. But many embedded applications simply need the boot loader to configure the hardware and load the OS, so the significant up-front and per-unit costs of BIOS present hurdles to widespread adoption of Intel Architecture (“IA”, or x86) as a mainstream deeply embedded architecture.
New royalty-free IA boot loaders from ADI Engineering, based on Intel Boot Loader Development Kits (BLDK) and Firmware Support Package (FSP) can help embedded systems developers eliminate the substantial expense and time-to market challenges that BIOS has imposed on IA. ADI’s new royalty-free IA boot loaders empower customers with significant advantages in costs, boot times, simplified product development cycles, and greater control over their boot loader firmware. For many embedded applications, BLDK and FSP can replace a conventional BIOS, directly contributing to IA’s new-found competitiveness with ARM, Power Architecture, MIPs and other embedded processors.