A legacy BIOS for Minnowboard Max will soon be available. This is good news for Minnowboard Max users, as the legacy BIOS supports all operating systems. Better yet, our Minnowboard BIOS boots a lot faster than any other BIOS even though all hardware are initialized. Furthermore, with our BIOS you can run tools like memtest that doesn't work with UEFI.
So run your favorite DOS, LINUX, Windows or any other legacy OS on Minnowboard Max. The BIOS will soon be available for download on our site.
Feel free to ask any questions.
We are currently making the final touches to the Bay Trail BIOS in general. After we need to validate the SD card boot support. It will be available within 2-3 weeks for the dual core board. Will notify you when it's available.
The first shot of of our legacy BIOS for Minnowboard Max (E3825) was run successfully today. The POST times below was measured with SATA mechanical drive populated with MSDOS 5.00. The time is measured after the MBR has been read and only a RETF CPU instruction from running the boot sector code.
Best results (powering off, then immediately powering on)
Cold boot.......................: 0.585 seconds
CTRL+ALT+DEL boot....: 0.211 seconds
Worst results (powering off, then wait 10 seconds before powering on)
Cold boot.......................: 0.906 seconds
CTRL+ALT+DEL boot....: 0.517 seconds
Need to do further verification before the BIOS will be in production state. Think it will be ready next week. Included video clip from first MSDOS and Tiny Core Linux boot.
As soon as the licensing model framework is finished it will be published on our website. It will be free for non commercial use, so we are currently working with the documentation and forms required.
For Minnowboard Max there are no Intel legacy BIOS. The Intel firmware is a 32-bit or 64-bit UEFI image without the CSM (Compatibility Support Module). The CSM part supports the software APIs and boot technique of the legacy BIOS. The Sage BIOS are based on coreboot, Intel FSP (Firmware Support Package) and uses SeaBIOS as payload, providing a legacy BIOS compatible environment.
The legacy BIOS compatible is a good thing, as it enables you to run any OS from 16-bit to 64-bit. Our BIOS is legacy BIOS developed from the ground in assembly language for the embedded market. It has many features and can appear as simple boot loader with no sign of being a BIOS. It initializes and enumerates all the hardware before giving control to the OS and on Minnowboard Max the OS boot loader will be able to run in less than 600 milliseconds from power on.
The BIOS have the standard APIs and also have some extended functionality to use for boot loader or operating systems that uses the BIOS for I/O. For example there are functions for buffered interrupt driven UART communications, functions for loading kernel and ram disks above 1MB boundary and functions for rapid boot media I/O etc. Implementing a super fast boot loader are easy and straight forward as you can focus on the file system to support and use the APIs for all I/O. The boot loader can run entirely in 16-bit mode which will be very fast, convenient and resource efficient.
The boot loaders for Linux are generally too bloated and complex. They are more like an operating system. The ideal boot loader for me would be started from the boot record of the boot partition, not having any fancy menus, run in 16-bit mode real mode and use BIOS APIs for all the I/O. It's only task is to load the OS kernel and ram disk as quickly as possible. For debugging I would use the UART APIs in the BIOS to provide log messages to a terminal.
Okay, have to go back to work now!
The site are prepared for the BIOS now. The SD card support will be completed today or the beginning of next week. If you register on our site now, we can send you a BIOS without SD card support immediately or you can wait for the real one published next week.
The general BIOS for Bay Trail technology are finished now. The POST times below was measured on a E3845 Com Express board and eMMC boot with MSDOS 5.00. The time is measured after the MBR sector from the media has been read and the last CPU instruction (RETF) before invoking boot sector code.
Cold boot with memory training........: 1.621 seconds (includes flashing of memory training results)
Cold boot without memory training...: 0.989 seconds
Warm boot using reset button..........: 0.945 seconds
Warm boot using CTRL+ALT+DEL..: 0.468 seconds
We will now adopt our Bay Trail BIOS to Minnowboard Max. Expect it to be available very soon.