Friday, September 16th 2011

Finally, Gigabyte Goes UEFI

Gigabyte surprised many last year, when it broke its decade-long tradition of blue-colored PCBs to unveil its first black ones. Pictures of the first black PCB Gigabyte boards were first dismissed as Photoshop jobs, but after some confirmation, news posts carried quite some shock-value. It's such small things that Gigabyte has known to be quite particular about. Not that it's bad, Gigabyte is the second biggest motherboard vendor because many of its rigid design policies paid off, but some of these could work against the company.

One such has been the company's reluctance to use UEFI firmware on its motherboards. With socket LGA1155 and AM3+, we saw motherboard vendors of all shapes and sizes, including much smaller ones such as BIOSTAR adopt UEFI. Besides allowing vendors to deploy mouse-driven graphical user interface for the CMOS Setup program, UEFI addresses many glaring limitations of legacy BIOS, which hasn't changed much over decades. UEFI allows you to boot from volumes bigger than 2.2 TB in size. Eventually, storage volumes several terabytes in size will become mainstream, and that's when the ticking time-bomb that is BIOS, will blow.

Gigabyte tried to address the limitation with what it calls "HybridEFI", which is nothing to do with UEFI, but is rather an address-space tweak for existing AwardBIOS code that allows you to boot from large volumes. That still leaves out the problem of Gigabyte's notably slow and convoluted CMOS setup program navigation. One genuine upside of HybridEFI is that Gigabyte has been able to provide BIOS updates to many of its older motherboards with 16 Mbit EEPROMs, that give them the feature. Gigabyte is hence the only motherboard vendor with socket LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1366, and AM3 motherboards that can boot from >2.2 TB volumes.

Finally, it seems like Gigabyte broke another big "tradition", that of using AMI BIOS over AwardBIOS. Award doesn't seem to have a template UEFI firmware that vendors can work their own UIs on. Gigabyte's BIOS team is known to have programmers who have had first-hand experience in programming AwardBIOS, which could explain the company's slow transition to UEFI. Spotted on working models of Gigabyte's LGA2011 X79 motherboards on display at IDF, Gigabyte is using an AMI UEFI BIOS with its own GUI. Add to this, Gigabyte found a way to give its AMI BIOS the huge advantage of its patented DualBIOS technology, an automatic redundant EEPROM switching technology that protects from damaged BIOS or failed BIOS flashing.Source: LegitReviews
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38 Comments on Finally, Gigabyte Goes UEFI

#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Added a note in third paragraph about the upside of HybridEFI.
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#3
LAN_deRf_HA
Looks a bit like the styling MSI just abandoned for looking like crap.
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#4
random
Can't wait for this, was trying to find a reason to change motherboards but now I have none since they've released the new BIOS update for 22nm CPU support and PCIE3.0 and now I am hoping this UEFI becomes a BIOS update for us P67 users.
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#5
de.das.dude
Pro Indian Modder
that mobo looks sexy!
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#6
XoR
what a ugly board :wtf:
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#7
twicksisted
wow they sure took their time to go UEFI! thats why I bought an Asus board when i upgraded to P67
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#8
Thrackan
UEFI will be a definite argument for my next upgrade
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#9
twicksisted
those screenshots of Gigabyes UEFI interface look a bit meh in comparison to the Asus IMO

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#10
RejZoR
I don't see this as anything good to be frank. If anyone remembers what kind of interfaces asian companies produce, i'm not looking forward to it at all. It's usually all bling and nearly zero functionality.
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#11
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
ASUS has the best setup program home-screen. Internal setup pages are barely different between any of the AMI UEFI implementations out there today. A distant second is MSI's new screen home-screen.



It even has a web-browser.
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#13
Steevo
I had a windows 95 machine with a mouse driven BIOS at work years ago. Some older Compaq's had mouse menus as well.

Congrats the rest of the world on catching up to 1994.
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#14
Thrackan
by: Steevo
I had a windows 95 machine with a mouse driven BIOS at work years ago. Some older Compaq's had mouse menus as well.

Congrats the rest of the world on catching up to 1994.
You might also remember that back in 1994, there was still proper rock music on the radio. Wonder if that will catch up too:rockout:
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#15
random
by: RejZoR
I don't see this as anything good to be frank. If anyone remembers what kind of interfaces asian companies produce, i'm not looking forward to it at all. It's usually all bling and nearly zero functionality.
Both MSI and ASUS are asian companies along with GIGABYTE. If you are referring to UEFI in general then that is debatable I guess.
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#16
RejZoR
I'm talking to asian products in general. But they are sorting it out slowly. In the past they couldn't get past flashy colorful uncompressed bitmap based massive interfaces for everything.
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#17
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Steevo
I had a windows 95 machine with a mouse driven BIOS at work years ago.
I had that, too. That wasn't an embedded BIOS. The machine would have Compaq's own BIOS without a CMOS setup program. The BIOS would detect new IDE, PCI and ISA devices on each boot. The mouse-driven setup program you're talking about would come on a bootable floppy. The bootable floppy is a DOS boot disk that would autorun a program. So basically, that was an OS-based setup program, just like Gigabyte's TouchBIOS.

Edit. Wait, I think you're right. AMI did have a GUI mouse-driven embedded setup program back in 1993. I remember seeing them on some 80486 (pre-Pentium!) boards. I think it was canned because it needed a big, expensive EEPROM chip.
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#18
tilldeath
I'm not really up to date on the uefi, but will this be a possible upgrade to existing motherboard bios with a flash? Or does it acutally have to be built into the bios at factory?
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#19
XoR
by: Steevo
I had a windows 95 machine with a mouse driven BIOS at work years ago. Some older Compaq's had mouse menus as well.

Congrats the rest of the world on catching up to 1994.
I had such thing too for my Pentium 166. It looked somewhat similar to GEM (and with that to Win3.1x too) but you really couldn't move any windows around :)

I was pretty disappointed that later computers had normal ugly bioses but eventually got used to them :)
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#20
xBruce88x
i think uefi requires more space due to all the images and whatnot, so many current boards may not be able to load UEFI even if the manufacturer wanted to. unless some boards have socketed bios chips that the manufacturer could send as an upgrade that have more storage room for the UEFI software rom

^ @tilldeath

@xor and steevo. I was thinking the same thing. I think it was a packard bell that i used with a s7 166cpu. the interface reminded me of an early mac os. it was pretty cool though at the time. (still is really). too bad there were no OC settings, o wait that's what jumpers were for back then ;)

as for the built in web browser... that's pretty neat. will come in handy if you need to google settings or forgot to get drivers (at least one would hope you can dl files to a flash drive)
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#21
yogurt_21
this annoys me actually, there's a reason server bios's are still all text based. We want function, not pretties. Pretties are for clients that hit the applications hosted on the server.


I like function in my bios, pretties in my OS. prettying up my bios and losing relevant and necessary features isn't my idea of advancement.
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#22
XoR
by: xBruce88x

@xor and steevo. I was thinking the same thing. I think it was a packard bell that i used with a s7 166cpu. the interface reminded me of an early mac os. it was pretty cool though at the time. (still is really). too bad there were no OC settings, o wait that's what jumpers were for back then ;)

as for the built in web browser... that's pretty neat. will come in handy if you need to google settings or forgot to get drivers (at least one would hope you can dl files to a flash drive)
my motherboard wasn't HP branded (there were no HP logo) but where from it was I don't realy know cause I bought it used. It was probably generic thing on AMI BIOSes of that time...

as for web browser in bios asus boards with linux inside could write on flash drives :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#23
Steevo
by: btarunr
I had that, too. That wasn't an embedded BIOS. The machine would have Compaq's own BIOS without a CMOS setup program. The BIOS would detect new IDE, PCI and ISA devices on each boot. The mouse-driven setup program you're talking about would come on a bootable floppy. The bootable floppy is a DOS boot disk that would autorun a program. So basically, that was an OS-based setup program, just like Gigabyte's TouchBIOS.

Edit. Wait, I think you're right. AMI did have a GUI mouse-driven embedded setup program back in 1993. I remember seeing them on some 80486 (pre-Pentium!) boards. I think it was canned because it needed a big, expensive EEPROM chip.
Hells yeah, the machine shipped with 3.1, it had a whopping 32MB of RAM and a blistering fast 66Mhz processor DX-2.
Posted on Reply
#24
twicksisted
by: yogurt_21
this annoys me actually, there's a reason server bios's are still all text based. We want function, not pretties. Pretties are for clients that hit the applications hosted on the server.


I like function in my bios, pretties in my OS. prettying up my bios and losing relevant and necessary features isn't my idea of advancement.
Yes i do agree with you, though with my upgrade i was presented with a choice of Asus with its slick UEFI bios option or Gigabyte with its half assed attempt at UEFI with possible future updates... you can guess which way I went ;)
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#25
WarraWarra
by: Thrackan
You might also remember that back in 1994, there was still proper rock music on the radio. Wonder if that will catch up too:rockout:
+1 @ Steevo and Thrackan.

The UEFI is nice enough and the asian bios layout is well not very western world "nice" especially the hello kitty and other stuff they love over there.

Look at tomato firmware layout very nice 95% there / what would be ideal.
Look at dd-wrt firmware layout very nice, mix of tomato and dd-wrt would be perfect.

I can also remember the compact gui bios before the bios firmware wars started.
Must be the extra gimmicks in their gui bios that led to HP buying compact and now HP well, not computing anymore. Maybe Gigabyte can learn from Compact gui bios and not follow Compact to HP to dissolved.
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