The BIOS is a critical component of any computer system. It acts as a bridge between the hardware and software, providing basic instructions to the computer’s processor and allowing the operating system to take control. BIOS is responsible for starting up the computer, controlling the hardware components, and providing an interface for installing and configuring software.
In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of BIOS, its role in the computer system, and its importance for a successful and reliable computing experience.
What is BIOS in Computer?
BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. It is a type of ROM Chip embedded in computer motherboards responsible for booting up the computer, initializing the hardware, and managing system resources. The BIOS is the first program that is run when the computer starts up, and it is stored in a chip on the motherboard.
The BIOS is responsible for performing several important tasks. It checks the system hardware to ensure it is functioning properly, loads the operating system from the hard disk, and configures the various devices in the computer. It also stores basic system settings such as the time, date, and boot order.
For example, when a computer is turned on, the BIOS will perform a power-on self-test (POST), which checks the system hardware to ensure it is functioning properly. It will then look for a boot device, such as a hard drive or CD-ROM, and load the operating system. Finally, once the operating system is loaded, the BIOS will configure the various devices, such as the keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
Main Functions Of BIOS in Computer
BIOS is responsible for providing the necessary information to the operating system to enable the computer to start up. This involves recognizing and configuring hardware, testing it and connecting it to the OS. This entire process is known as the boot process.
- POST: Power On Self Test (POST) is the primary function of the BIOS. When a computer is turned on, the BIOS performs a series of checks to ensure that all the essential hardware components are present and functioning correctly. It performs various tests to determine if the hardware components are working properly, such as testing RAM, verifying the processor’s speed, and checking the hard drive. If any problems are found, the BIOS will display an error message. If no errors are found, the BIOS will then move on to the next stage of booting up the computer.
- Bootstrap Loader: The BIOS’s bootstrap loader is the first program that runs when a computer is powered on. Its primary purpose is to locate, load, and start the operating system. The bootstrap loader begins by locating the boot sector on the system’s boot device. This is typically the hard drive, but it can also be a USB drive, CD-ROM, or other device type. The bootstrap loader then reads the first few bytes of the boot sector, which contains a specialized program used to load the operating system. Once the operating system is loaded, the BIOS relinquishes control of the computer to the operating system.
- BIOS drivers: BIOS drivers are software that allows the operating system to communicate with components found in the motherboard and other hardware components. They are responsible for loading and running the basic input/output system (BIOS) and other low-level software like device drivers and firmware. BIOS drivers are usually stored in the ROM of the computer and are used to initialize the system and provide support for hardware components. Without the correct BIOS drivers, the system will not work properly.
- BIOS setup or CMOS setup: BIOS setup or CMOS setup is the most important function of BIOS. It is the program that allows users to configure the basic hardware settings of their computer. This includes settings such as the type of processor, the amount of RAM installed, the type of hard drive, and other basic settings. The BIOS setup can also change the device’s boot order and enable or disable certain features. It is important to note that the BIOS setup is not the same as the operating system, as it is responsible for configuring the system before the operating system is loaded.
How To Access BIOS Settings/Setup Utility?
Accessing your system BIOS is a simple process, but the exact method will vary depending on the type of computer you are using.
- Start your computer. To enter the BIOS, you often have to press a key or combination of keys (e.g. F2, Esc, Delete, F9 or F10) during the initial startup sequence. This is known as the BIOS boot menu. The key used to access the BIOS may vary for different computers, so be sure to check your computer’s manual or online documentation for the correct key.
- Once the BIOS boot menu is displayed, you can use the arrow keys to navigate the menus and select the options you want to change.
- After making your changes, press the F10 key (or the key your system prompts) to save and exit the BIOS. Your computer will reboot, and the new settings will take effect.
Can a BIOS Chip Be Upgraded Or Updated?
Yes, a BIOS chip can be upgraded or updated. The BIOS chip is a computer chip that stores basic system information and settings required for the computer’s hardware and software to run. It is usually located on the motherboard and can be updated by downloading the latest version from the computer’s manufacturer’s website.
Updating the BIOS is often necessary to keep the computer’s hardware up to date-and running optimally. BIOS updates often come in the form of a software patch that can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website and installed directly on the BIOS chip. It is important to ensure that the BIOS update is compatible with the computer’s hardware before installing it.
In some cases, the BIOS chip may need to be physically replaced. This is often done if the BIOS chip becomes corrupted or if the motherboard requires a more advanced version of the BIOS. In this case, the old BIOS chip must be removed and a new one installed. This should only be done by a qualified technician, as incorrect installation of the BIOS chip can cause serious damage to the computer.
The Leading BIOS Manufacturers
The leading BIOS manufacturers are American Megatrends, Inc. (AMI), Phoenix Technologies, Insyde Software and UEFI Forum.
- American Megatrends, Inc (AMI) is one of the leading BIOS manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1985, AMI is a global leader in BIOS, UEFI, remote management, data storage, networking and server solutions for both consumer and business customers. AMI works with leading hardware, software and IT companies to develop BIOS, UEFI and data storage solutions that maximize system performance, reliability, and ease of use.
- Phoenix Technologies is one of the leading BIOS manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1979, Phoenix Technologies is a global leader in BIOS and firmware solutions, providing custom solutions for dozens of major corporations and system manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies offers a wide range of BIOS products and services, including system BIOSs, embedded controllers, mobile device BIOSs, and remote BIOSs.
- Insyde Software is a leading BIOS manufacturer that provides firmware and system software solutions for laptop and desktop computers. They specialize in UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS, a modern alternative to traditional BIOS. They also offer a range of other system software solutions, including firmware and software tools, embedded applications, and system-level software. Insyde Software is a major supplier of BIOS solutions to major computer brands such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Acer. They also work with third-party hardware vendors such as AMD and Intel to create BIOS solutions for their products.
- The UEFI Forum is a global industry consortium of more than 140 leading technology companies dedicated to developing, advancing and promoting the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) specifications. The UEFI Forum was formed in 2005 and comprises a diverse group of companies, including PC and server system manufacturers, software vendors, silicon vendors, BIOS vendors, IHVs, ODMs, IHVs, and other industry players. The Forum is dedicated to creating a secure and reliable pre-boot and runtime firmware platform.
These companies are the leading providers of BIOS firmware for computers, from consumer PCs to enterprise servers. These BIOS manufacturers are also members of the UEFI Forum, which has worked together to develop the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard. This new standard helps to improve the security and reliability of the pre-boot and runtime firmware.
History Of BIOS
In 1975, Gary Kildall coined the term BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), and it was implemented in IBM’s first personal computer in 1981. Over the years, BIOS became a widespread part of computer systems, but eventually, its popularity began to decline as a new technology, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), began to take its place. In 2017, Intel announced plans to phase out support for legacy BIOS systems by 2020 in favor of the more modern UEFI.