What is UEFI?

The well-known BIOS is more and more being replaced by its successor UEFI. So it’s time to take a closer look at this UEFI and its benefits.

The abbreviation UEFI stands for "Unified Extensible Firmware Interface". It is the successor to the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) and much easier to use. UEFI is an interface between the firmware, the individual hardware components of the computer and the operating system. UEFI has the same basic functions as the BIOS. It initializes the hardware, tests the individual hardware components and initiates booting the operating system.

How was UEFI developed?

BIOS was developed in the seventies for the first IBM PC released in 1981. So it’s not surprising that it’s already getting old. Since it is not 64-bit-compatible and because of other reasons, BIOS no longer meets the requirements of newer hardware. As a result, Intel took the first step and developed the successor EFI, which was specified in 1998. To further develop EFI, the Unified EFI Forum was founded. Among Intel, AMD and Microsoft, also other manufacturers belong to it. The first version of UEFI was released in 2006. Since Windows Vista it is supported by Windows.

What is Secure Boot?

Probably the most important new feature of the UEFI is Secure Boot, which increases the security of booting. It prevents malicious software from being loaded during the boot process, which then manipulates or attacks the computer. This is done via a digital key, the bootloaders and programs must identify with. If software exits, which cannot be authenticated, the start of the system is prevented.

What are the benefits of UEFI?

  • Graphical user interface, which – unlike the BIOS – can also be operated by mouse instead of just by keyboard.
  • 64-bit support
  • Drivers can be integrated directly or reloaded as a module.
  • The PC boots faster, since the hardware components are prepared parallel during initialization and not one after another as with the BIOS.
  • Booting from hard disks larger than 2 TB is possible.
  • Network support: The UEFI can go online and like this, for example, be updated to a newer version.
  • Certain functions can be used even before the operating system starts.
  • Several operating systems can be installed parallel.
  • The user can choose which parts of the operating systems should load.

What are the disadvantages of UEFI?

  • 64-bit are necessary.
  • Virus and Trojan threat due to network support, since UEFI doesn’t have anti-virus software.
  • When using Linux, Secure Boot can cause problems.

How do I get into UEFI?

If you want to get into the UEFI, on most computers you have to press the “delete” Key several times in quick succession directly after switching on the PC. If this does not lead to success, it is worth looking into the manual. Sometimes it is another key that allows access to BIOS or UEFI.

More on this topic

2 May 2016 Array ( [id] => 186 [title] => What is BIOS? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => In the first part of our BIOS-series we explain the terms BIOS and UEFI. We also talk about the tasks of the BIOS and we answer the important question of how to actually get into the BIOS. [description] =>

What exactly is BIOS?

The abbreviation BIOS means “Basic Input/Output System”. It is the firmware of a PC –  A software which is built integrated into the hardware. The BIOS is stored on a small chip in the mainboard of the computer and is always preinstalled. There are motherboards, which also have a second chip, that acts as backup. The BIOS is the link between the software (OS) and hardware components such as hard drives, keyboard, mouse and printer. The navigation in BIOS is only possible with a keyboard.

And what is this UEFI?

The new version of BIOS is called UEFI, which means unified extensible firmware interface. UEFI looks like an operating system, can be controlled by mouse and is capable of executing programs.

What is BIOS responsible for?

The main tasks of the BIOS are a self-test and the initialization of the hardware as well as the communication between the operating system and other components. When a computer is turned on, the BIOS starts and prepares the PC for booting. First it performs the power-on self-test (POST). The computer checks one by one whether the basic hardware components such as CPU and RAM are working properly. If errors are found, the BIOS displays them by specific sounds or on screen, if the graphics have already been tested successfully.

Following this self-test, the booting process starts. For this, the hardware must know from which component it should boot the operating system. The BIOS searches the operating system in the available devices (hard drives, USB, DVD) following a specific order. As soon as it finds software, the PC is booting automatically. The order of the drives, on which to search for the operating system, can be set in the BIOS. For instance if you want to delete the existing OS and install a new one via DVD, it is necessary to set “CDROM” as first boot device. Other tasks of the BIOS are managing date and time as well as the temperature monitoring of the processor and the mainboard.

How do I get into the BIOS?

To enter the BIOS, a certain key must be pressed (multiple times!)  right after  turning on the PC and even before the operating system  is booted. It depends on the manufacturer which key: usually - and also at all spo-books – the BIOS is accessed by pressing the key "F2" or "Del".

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know-how

What is BIOS?

In the first part of our BIOS-series we explain the terms BIOS and UEFI. We also talk about the tasks of the BIOS and we answer the important question of how to actually get into the BIOS.
14 Jun 2016 Array ( [id] => 192 [title] => Should I take an actively cooled or passively cooled Mini-PC? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => It’s underestimated quite often how important it is to make the right choice regarding the cooling architecture of your Mini-PC. Especially location and operation purpose play an important role here. What you definitely should know in any case about the two different types of cooling and which advantages and disadvantages they bring along, you will learn here. [description] =>

Active Cooling

This option is the most common type of cooling. One speaks of an active cooling of your PC if the hardware is cooled down by a stream of air from one or more ventilators. The faster the rotational speed the cooler the hardware. The air ventilation automatically adapts, thanks to “SmartFan”, to the capacity utilization of the PC and rotates, as necessary, sometimes faster and sometimes slower.

Advantages of active cooling:

  • Even if the air needs to have some room inside of the computer, in order to circulate properly, actively cooled systems are generally slimmer than fanless systems.
  • You can achieve good cooling results, even with high-performance hardware.
  • It is a cheap solution compared to passively cooled PCs.

Disadvantages of active cooling:

  • Since the fans are most likely affected by wearing, they have, depending on use, a relatively shorter life.
  • The noise level: Even at low utilization the fan will always be audible.

How do I know if active cooling is the right choice for my purpose?

Mostly active cooling for a PC is useful if the environment of the site allows the warm air to go out in order to prevent heat accumulation. For instance this can happen if an Embedded-PC is mounted in steles, tables or walls.
Also active cooling is useful when processors and graphic cards experience a temperature rise above-average, due to applications which need a lot of hardware resources.

Passive Cooling

First of all the most striking contrast to the active cooling here is that there is no fan used for a passive solution.
Due to heat sinks which are integrated in the systems, like thermally conductive metal, the produced heat is transported to the outside, via lamellar cooling fins on the housing of the computer.

Advantages of passive cooling:

  • Silent working with simultaneous use of an SSD (See: “Shall I go for an HDD or SSD?”).
  • Robustness by massive PC cases and compact constructions.
  • High durability of the systems.
  • Systems are often completely closed and not prone to dust, sawdust and the like.
  • Extended range of temperature.
  • Above mentioned advantages both count for outdoor and vehicle installations.

Disadvantages of passive cooling:

  • Performance of the systems is limited (compared with actively cooled PCs of the same size), since high performance requires a bigger heat sink.
  • The environment has, to a certain degree, to provide thermal discharge in order to prevent heat accumulation.
  • More expensive compared to actively cooled systems.

How do I know if passive cooling is the right choice for my purpose?

There are so many opportunities that we actually don’t really know where to start. Wide application areas are rough environments like factory work rooms, workshops or production facilities since the fanless computers are less prone to dust or similar. Even installations in, for instance, steles, walls or in the open air where it sometimes can be a bit colder than usual, but you nevertheless have to rely on the computer. Not to mention in open-plan offices where every little noise reduction is a boon for the staff, passively cooled systems are always welcome.

Conclusion

If you attach importance to an increased durability and robustness of your product, we recommend to invest some extra cash and to opt for a passively cooled solution. Those who don’t want to lower their sights regarding performance and size of the Mini-PC are well served with the classical actively cooled alternative.

##spo-comm PCs with active cooling

 

##spo-comm PCs with passive cooling

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know-how

Should I take an actively cooled or passively cooled Mini-PC?

It’s underestimated quite often how important it is to make the right choice regarding the cooling architecture of your Mini-PC. Especially location and operation purpose play an important role here. What you definitely should know in any case about the two different types of cooling and which advantages and disadvantages they bring along, you will learn here.
20 Mar 2019 Array ( [id] => 399 [title] => What’s new? The 5G standard, a new AI and USB 4 [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => Our tech news in March: Two interfaces will become one and the 5G standard is on its way. In addition, we have discovered a fascinating AI and tell you about our exhibition visits. [description] =>

Bye Thunderbolt 3, Hello USB 4

The USB Promoter Group recently announced the new USB 4 standard. This version is based on Thunderbolt 3 and allows sensational data transfer rates of up to 40 GBit/s, which is twice as much as the current version USB 3.2 Gen2x2. The background: Intel hands over its Thunderbolt specification to the Universal Serial Bus Implementers Forum (USB-IF). In the future, manufacturers will be able to produce suitable chips without paying the license fees that Thunderbolt requires. So far, it is also certain that USB Type C is required in any case. In exchange, the new port can also transmit DisplayPort 1.2 as well as HDMI signals and charge devices with up to 100 watts. It is still unclear, when the first devices with USB 4 will be developed. Maybe with Intel’s new CPU generation Ice Lake, which should come in late 2019.

Sources: golem.de, heise online, GameStar.

10 times faster: The new 5G standard

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the new 5G mobile communications standard was one of the big topics. Samsung, Huawei, LG and other manufacturers have already introduced smartphones that support 5G. But what is the current status? The 5G standard is the successor of 4G/LTE and builds on this. With data rates up to 20 Gbit/s, 10x LTE speed will be achieved. In Germany, there will be the first mobile networks from 2020 onwards, but the priority is initially to open up remote locations. A faster mobile network is less important at first. To make matters worse for the expansion in Germany, the auction of 5G frequencies is delayed. Due to the strict supply requirements, the major mobile operators Telefónica, Vodafone and Telekom have requested to stop the auction.

Sources: golem.de, heise online.

Embedded World and Internet World: spo-comm at exhibition visit

In the last few weeks, two exciting fairs took place in our area, which we didn’t want to miss. At the end of February, several colleagues from sales, marketing and technology visited the Embedded World in Nuremberg. There we learned about the latest trends in the industry and met a few of our customers and partners.

In mid-March, our marketing team went to the Internet World Expo  in Munich. Here we mainly used the extensive lecture offer and heard great speakers on topics such as SEO, SEA, UX and content marketing. We took many new ideas and suggestions with us and will definitely implement some of them in the coming weeks.

Fake faces nonstop: The possibilities of AI

At the end we want to tell you about a topic that shows the exciting possibilities of artificial intelligence and has fascinated us very much: the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. With each refresh it shows a new face, that was artificially created using AI, but looks so realistic, that it cannot be distinguished from a real photo. The algorithm used here uses a so-called GAN (generative adversarial network), which creates new fake examples from a large set of real images. The StyleGAN algorithm was developed by NVIDIA and published last year as open source.

Source: The Verge.

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know-how

What’s new? The 5G standard, a new AI and USB 4

Our tech news in March: Two interfaces will become one and the 5G standard is on its way. In addition, we have discovered a fascinating AI and tell you about our exhibition visits.