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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search ' This article is about the personal computer term. For other uses, see Bios. In IBM PC compatible computers, the Basic Input Output System (BIOS), also known as the System BIOS or ROM BIOS ( /ˈbaɪ.oʊs/), is a de facto standard defining a firmware interface. The name originated as the name of a component of CP/M (circa 1973-1974), where the BIOS was loaded from disc rather than stored as firmware on ROM (because ROMs were expensive and difficult to reprogram at the time).
Phoenix AwardBIOS CMOS (non-volatile memory) Setup utility on a standard PC The BIOS software is built into the PC, and is the first code run by a PC when powered on boot firmware. When the PC starts up, the first job for the BIOS is the power-on self-test, which initializes and identifies system devices such as the CPU, RAM, video display card, keyboard and mouse, hard disk drive, optical disc drive and other hardware. The BIOS then locates boot loader software held on a peripheral device (designated as a 'boot device'), such as a hard disk or a CD/DVD, and loads and executes that software, giving it control of the PC. This process is known as booting, or booting up, which is short for bootstrapping. BIOS software is stored on a non-volatile ROM chip on the motherboard. It is specifically designed to work with each particular model of computer, interfacing with various devices that make up the complementary chipset of the system. In modern computer systems the BIOS chip's contents can be rewritten without removing it from the motherboard, allowing BIOS software to be upgraded in place. A BIOS has a user interface (UI), typically a menu system accessed by pressing a certain key on the keyboard when the PC starts. In the BIOS UI, a user can:
configure hardware set the system clock
1 Specifications . making BIOS a catch-all term for both systems.1 SLIC o 9. text display functions and so forth). enable or disable system components select which devices are eligible to be a potential boot device set various password prompts. Contents 1 Terminology 2 IBM PC-compatible BIOS chips 3 Flashing the BIOS 4 BIOS chip vulnerabilities 5 Overclocking 6 Virus attacks o 6. such as a password for securing access to the BIOS user interface functions itself and preventing malicious users from booting the system from unauthorized peripheral devices.2 Reprogrammable microcode 10 The BIOS business 11 Comparison 12 See also 13 References 14 Further reading 15 External links o 15. but BIOS remains in widespread use. will provide replacement software interfaces to applications. and these software library functions are callable by external software. such as hard-drive controllers and video display adapters. certain peripheral cards.3 Persistent BIOS infection o 6.1 and later. which provided additional functionality. The BIOS provides a small library of basic input/output functions used to operate and control the peripherals (such as the keyboard.2 Black Hat 2006 o 6. In the IBM PC and AT. The role of the BIOS has changed over time. and Mac OS X on Intel-based Macs. the Linux kernel 2.4 Mebromi 7 Firmware on adapter cards 8 BIOS boot specification 9 Changing role of the BIOS o 9. the BIOS is being replaced by the more complex Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) in many new machines. carried their own BIOS extension Option ROM. As of 2011.1 CIH o 6. designed to supersede this basic firmware functionality. the distinction between BIOS and EFI is rarely made in terminology by the average computer user. EFI booting has been supported in only Microsoft Windows versions supporting GPT.6. However. Operating systems and executive software.
There are a few alternatives for Legacy BIOS in the x86 world: Extensible Firmware Interface.COM". Boot Block DMI Block Main Block PhoenixBIOS D686. This BIOS chip is housed in a PLCC package. which is. "IBMBIO. DOS Plus. BIOS firmware was most commonly stored on EEPROM or flash memory devices. standard.SYS" or "DRBIOS. while EPROM chips need the system to be powered-down and the EPROM chips removed from the motherboard. the president of the BIOS manufacturer Micro Firmware. Prior to the early 1990s. called the DOS BIOS. which could not be altered by users. Multiuser DOS.SYS". describing the machine-specific part of CP/M loaded during boot time that interfaced directly with the hardware (CP/M machines usually had only a simple boot loader in their ROM). For example.Terminology The term BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) was invented by Gary Kildall and first appeared in the CP/M operating system in 1975. Concurrent DOS. "IBMBIO. the generic terms boot monitor. but a single. EPROM chips may be erased by prolonged exposure to . plugged into a PLCC socket. the BIOS in ROM was customized to the particular manufacturer's hardware. allowing low-level services (such as reading a keystroke or writing a sector of data to diskette) to be provided in a standardized way to the operating system. and re-programmable parts became more available. BIOS system call would be invoked to display a character at a specified position on the screen in text mode. for re-programming. Most versions of DOS have a file called "IO.SYS". System Manager and REAL/32) came with an XIOS (Extended Input/Output System) instead of the BIOS. boot loader or boot ROM were commonly used. Open Firmware (used on the OLPC XO-1) and coreboot. in turn. Flash chips are programmed (and re-programmed) in-circuit. Some Sun and PowerPC-based computers use Open Firmware for this purpose. that is analogous to the CP/M BIOS. According to Robert Braver. BIOSes were stored in ROM or PROM chips. Flash BIOS chips became common around 1995 because the electrically erasable PROM (EEPROM) chips are cheaper and easier to program than standard erasable PROM (EPROM) chips. using different display memory addresses and hardware. Among other classes of computers. IBM PC-compatible BIOS chips In principle. As its complexity and need for updates grew. Later versions of CP/M (as well as Concurrent CP/M. an IBM PC might have had either a monochrome or a color display adapter.
following a new standard implementation known as "firmware hub" (FWH). BIOS versions are upgraded to take advantage of newer versions of hardware and to correct bugs in previous revisions of BIOSes. or a reflashing operation might be needed to fix a damaged BIOS. and the capacities of the ROM. such as some Linux distributions. In 2006. Starting in 1997. allowing the contents to be replaced or 'rewritten'. Flashing the BIOS In modern PCs the BIOS is stored in rewritable memory.ultraviolet light. PCs supported a hardware clock settable through BIOS. It had a century bit which allowed for manually changing the century when the year 2000 happened. A BIOS might be reflashed in order to upgrade to a newer version to fix bugs or provide improved performance or to support newer hardware. 1999. Electrically erasable (EEPROM) chips allow BIOS reprogramming using higher-than-normal voltage. This can be done by a special program. the BIOS flash moved to the LPC bus. EEPROM and other media it may be stored on. and the BIOS flash moved again. BIOS chip vulnerabilities . Chip manufacturers use EPROM programmers (blasters) to program EPROM chips. or at POST. a functional replacement for ISA. December 31. BIOS versions now exist with sizes up to 16 megabytes. has increased over time as new features have been added to the code. the first systems supporting a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) appeared. usually provided by the system's manufacturer. The first flash chips were attached to the ISA bus. A BIOS may also be "flashed" by putting the file on the root of a USB drive and booting. Most BIOS revisions created in 1995 and nearly all BIOS revisions in 1997 supported the year 2000 by setting the century bit automatically when the clock rolled past midnight. The size of the BIOS. some recent ASUS motherboards included SplashTop Linux embedded into their NAND flash memory ICs. with a BIOS image in a hard drive or USB flash drive. This rewriting of the contents is sometimes termed flashing. which accessed the chip via the window. Beginning with the IBM AT. A file containing such contents is sometimes termed 'a BIOS image'. For example. Some modern motherboards are including even bigger NAND flash memory ICs on board which are capable of storing whole compact operating systems.
If the boot block detects any corruption in the main BIOS. Overclocking may. CIH was also called the "Chernobyl Virus. seriously compromise system reliability in insufficiently cooled computers and generally shorten component lifespan. Overclocking. Chen Ing Hau. however. infected computers could no longer boot. targeting Chinese users. incorrectly performed. two of which were for demonstration purposes. may also cause component temperatures to rise so quickly that they destroy themselves. However. improve compatibility and remove bugs. .An American Megatrends BIOS showing a “Intel CPU uCode Loading Error” after a failed attempt to upload microcode patches into the CPU. It was able to erase flash ROM BIOS content. a portion of the BIOS which runs first and must be updated separately. CIH targeted the then-widespread Intel i430TX motherboard chipset. this advantage had the risk that an improperly executed or aborted BIOS update could render the computer or device unusable. the 13th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. CIH Main article: CIH (computer virus) The first BIOS virus was CIH. it will typically warn the user that a recovery process must be initiated by booting from removable media (floppy. Virus attacks There are at least four known BIOS attack viruses. CIH appeared in mid-1998 and became active in April 1999. CD or USB memory) so the user can try flashing the BIOS again. an action in which the CPU is adjusted to a higher clock rate than its factory preset. whose name matches the initials of its creator. Often. Some motherboards have a backup BIOS (sometimes referred to as DualBIOS boards) to recover from BIOS corruptions. EEPROM chips are advantageous because they can be easily updated by the user. To avoid these situations. The first one found in the wild was Mebromi. The then-widespread Windows 9x operating systems allowed direct hardware access to all programs. and people had to remove the flash ROM IC from the motherboard and reprogram it. Overclocking Some BIOS chips allow overclocking. This code verifies if the rest of the BIOS is intact (using hash checksums or other methods) before transferring control to it. more recent BIOSes use a "boot block". hardware manufacturers frequently issue BIOS updates to upgrade their products." because its payload date was 1999-04-26.
We even have a little code that can remove or disable antivirus. In 2006. As a result. however. Windows XP and newer. even before the operating system is booted. Ortega underlined the profound implications of his and Sacco's discovery: “We can patch a driver to drop a fully working rootkit. Also. OS X. use a backup BIOS." It appeared in 2009 at the CanSecWest Security Conference in Vancouver. Thus. Persistent BIOS infection The third BIOS virus was a technique called "Persistent BIOS infection. Other BIOS viruses remain possible. The proof-of-concept does not exploit a flaw in the BIOS implementation. Despite these requirements. demonstrated how to insert malicious code into the decompression routines in the BIOS.Detached BIOS Chip Modern systems are not vulnerable to CIH because of a variety of chipsets being used which are incompatible with the Intel i430TX chipset. or for the user to be root. do not allow user-mode programs to have direct hardware access. a modern CIH-like virus could in principle still gain access to hardware. it requires physical access to the machine. all modern operating systems such as Linux. at worst causing annoyance by infecting executable files and triggering alerts from antivirus software. in the event of a crash.” . and at the SyScan Security Conference in Singapore. at the Black Hat Security Conference. using malicious procedures that replaced normal ACPI functions stored in flash memory. and also other flash ROM IC types. principal security consultant for UK-based Next-Generation Security Software. Windows NT-based Windows OS like Windows 2000. Black Hat 2006 The second BIOS virus was a technique presented by John Heasman. he showed how to elevate privileges and read physical memory. since most Windows home users without Windows Vista/7's UAC run all applications with administrative privileges. but only involves the normal BIOS flashing procedures. allowing for nearly full control of the PC at every start-up. from Core Security Technologies. as of 2008. There is also extra protection from accidental BIOS rewrites in the form of boot blocks which are protected from accidental overwrite or dual and quad BIOS equipped systems which may. CIH has become essentially harmless. Researchers Anibal Sacco and Alfredo Ortega.
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