Every PC builder has had to interact with the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) at some point in time, becoming an integral part of the process. Mac users wouldn’t have a clue as Macs always used UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). The BIOS, however, is set to become obsolete by 2020, according to Intel. According to a statement by Intel at the UEFI Plugfest (yes, we’ve never heard of it either), Intel announced that it was going to transition to UEFI completely, phasing out the last remaining devices that still relied on BIOS.
UEFI and BIOS essentially act as an interpreter between the operating system and the computer firmware. Both are initialized at startup to identify the hardware and start the operating system from the drive it is stored in. BIOS has been around for the past thirty or so years, first developed in 1981 for IBM’s personal computers. Hence it still works in a 16-bit mode, greatly limiting the amount of code that can be read or executed from the device firmware. The BIOS user interface looks like the following and is fairly limited in terms of what it can do.
UEFI is a relatively new technology developed by Intel as a replacement for the traditional BIOS. The eliminates the limitations imposed by BIOS such as support for a maximum of 2TB hard disk size with only 4 partitions. With UEFI, the system can easily support 128 partitions of 8ZB (Zettabytes, which is 1-billion Terabytes). Boot times are also reduced as UEFI is platform independent, allowing it to run a wide range of hardware. Here’s how a typical UEFI menu looks like.
As you can see, UEFI is clearly superior, offering a much larger feature set than BIOS. UEFI is now being used by most major manufacturers for their hardware, but BIOS still persists in some of the older systems. BIOS is all set to join the long list of legacy features which have already been or will be scrapped, thanks to newer alternatives.