ATI Jumps On Board Intel's New BIOS Replacement

BIOS has traditionally been written in assembly language, but Intel’s Framework uses C.

Taipei-based BIOS maker Insyde Software said it will work with ATI to enable the company’s chipsets for Intel CPUs to support its InsydeH2O BIOS, a new BIOS that supports Platform Innovation Framework for Intel’s Extensive Firmware Interface.

ATI manufactures chipsets for third-party motherboards and recently has been supplying chipsets that Intel uses in its branded desktop motherboards.

Stephen Gentile, president of Insyde Software’s U.S. operations in Southborough, Mass., said Framework has two key advantages over traditional BIOS technology. The first is its pre-boot features. “There is a fairly robust pre-boot environment that doesn’t exist in a traditional BIOS solution.”

Among the improvements in the pre-boot environment are better diagnostics and antivirus features, image recovery, and a built-in network stack that allows administrators to browse the Web without operating-system support, Gentile said.

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The other key benefit is the programming language used to develop Framework, he said. BIOS has traditionally been written in assembly language, but Framework uses C.

Insyde Software and ATI announced their collaboration at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco earlier this month.

Intel’s Framework technology has been in development for several years and is expected to show up in systems in 2006 and 2007.

Gateway is one of the first vendors to support the technology in select systems. And Apple Computer’s new systems based on Intel’s x86 CPUs also use Framework, sources said.

Though Intel and others have been talking up the Framework technology for years, it appears to lack solid recognition among system builders. Many had still not heard about the upcoming BIOS but thought it sounded promising.

James Huang, product marketing specialist at Amax Information Technologies, Fremont, Calif., said none of the motherboards the system builder and distributor uses or sells supports Framework, but he thinks it is a good concept.

“The pre-boot features sound helpful,” he said. “We would just want to make sure the added functionality does not drain resources or slow down the system.”