BIOS - A Quick Recap

The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is the first software to run when the PC is powered on. The function of the BIOS is primarily focused on setting up your initializing hardware and identifying peripherals.

More recently, BIOS updates have allowed updated code to be written onto the hardware chips to support new processors and peripherals that previously were undetectable. This benefits users by keeping their existing hardware up-to-date and supporting newer coding standards or detection methods.

The biggest feature of the BIOS is the ability to manipulate and change key system settings to cater to your individual needs. This is also where overclocking saw its inception. By adjusting to higher clock rates than factory presets, users were able to push their system to new heights and gain significant performance boosts.

Enthusiasts began to flock to the motherboard manufacturers who enabled as many advanced features as possible for overclockability, e.g., voltage adjustments (which could compromise system stability). This led to the BIOS being a very marketable tool and a key differentiator between what higher end boards could do from their lower priced counterparts. However, the BIOS is now reaching 30 years old and the age is starting to show.

For starters, it only has 1,024 KB of execution space. This is extremely limited in a world where gigabits of data are being transferred simultaneously and will only continue to get faster with next generation devices and connectivity.

There is also an issue with device initialization. The abundance of onboard peripherals and controllers makes the boot up process take more time because of limited instruction space and lack of optimization.

On a larger scale, security has been a bigger issue in the computing world, and the BIOS is a major culprit in terms of managing and securing systems. Prior to booting to the OS, there is no built-in troubleshooting or in-depth security measures. The BIOS only provides basic password functionality which requires additional software installations in order to remotely monitor and secure PCs.

These key issues have long been overlooked in favor of other technologies, and it is time that they are addressed.

Rajiv Kothari is an industry insider who moonlights as a computer enthusiast, providing a different perspective and insight to new technologies.