What is the UEFI or the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface?

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UEFI is the abbreviation for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. This is essentially a replacement for the BIOS used to configure the hardware and load and boot an operating system in today’s Windows 10/8 PCs.

What is UEFI

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The ancestor of UEFI was developed by Intel for its Itanium servers. The main limitation of the BIOS was that it was a 16-bit BIOS with only 1 MB addressable space and an MBR (Master Boot Record) partitioning scheme. There were restrictions on the amount of RAM that could be used by the BIOS and it could not support a hard disk with a capacity of more than 2.2 TB. To overcome these limitations, Intel introduced the Intel Boot Initiative, which was later renamed EFI. It was then adopted by the Unified EFI Forum, which developed it into a UEFI.

The original EFI interface is used on Mac and only supports Intel processors. UEFI supports Intel and AMD processors.

Benefits of UEFI

UEFI supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. This allows it to use more RAM for more complex processes than BIOS. UEFI also supports CPU independent architecture and drivers.

Unlike BIOS, UEFI can have a more visually attractive interface that supports a mouse. See UEFI Asus interface below.

In addition to the default MBR partitioning scheme, UEFI also supports the GUID or GPT partition table. GPT allows a maximum disk and partition size of 9.4 ZB (compared to 2.2 TB MBR) and 128 partitions under Windows (compared to 4 MBR).

UEFI comes with a boot manager that eliminates the need for a separate boot loader. UEFI also supports non 16-bit extensions such as ACPI. UEFI also offers you faster starts and better network support.

With advances in the hardware industry, BIOS is becoming increasingly inadequate to manage the performance and capabilities of today’s machines, and UEFI has the ability to meet our ever-increasing thirst for computing power for at least the next two decades.

UEFI-compatible machines generally have faster start-up and shutdown times than BIOS-based machines. Here is a list of Windows 10 features that the UEFI needs:

  • Secure Boot protects the Windows 10 pre-boot process against bootkit and other malware attacks.
  • The Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) driver is first loaded by Secure Boot and checks all non-Microsoft drivers before they are loaded.
  • Windows Trusted Boot protects the kernel and system drivers at boot time.
  • Measured Boot measures the firmware components at startup and stores these measurements in the TPM chip.
  • Device Guard uses CPU virtualization and TPM support to support Device Guard with AppLocker and Device Guard with Credential Guard.
  • Credential Guard uses Device Guard and CPU virtualization and TPM support to protect security information such as NTLM hashes, etc.
  • BitLocker Network Unlocker will automatically unlock Windows 10 on reboot if it is connected to an enterprise network.
  • The GUID partition table or GPT disk partitioning is required to enable large boot disks.

Hopefully more suppliers will move from BIOS to UEFI.

Related topics:

  1. Check whether your PC supports UEFI or BIOS
  2. Manage access to UEFI firmware settings
  3. Manage EFI/UEFI boot options with EasyUEFI.

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