Phoenix Sounds Death Knell for BIOS

Phoenix Technologies is sounding the death knell for BIOS - the bread and butter of its current operations. While Phoenix is comparatively the "Microsoft" of the BIOS world, it has spent years endeavoring to modernize the aging standard.

If all goes according to plan, a new product the company dubs Core System Software (CSS) will serve as the foundation of PC architecture.

By design, Phoenix's CSS transfers digital security, network management and disaster recovery away from the control of software to hardware, truly differentiating itself from legacy BIOS.

For developers, Phoenix's Device-Networked Architecture (d-NA) serves as a structured framework, and is composed of a set of interoperable software building blocks designed to allow for the construction of highly differentiated solutions.

As part of the "trustworthy computing" model established by Microsoft, Phoenix d-NA will leverage support for Redmond's CryptoAPI (CAPI) to deliver intrinsic security on systems running Windows and .NET applications. In addition, a variation of digitally signed core system software will allow the integration of devices serving as network endpoints - a step the company bills as the "critical first link in a 'chain of trust'."

Due to CSS, Phoenix is predicting a new breed of intelligent devices and servers that provide self management, self-healing and self-authentication. This opens up scenarios for developers to deliver rights management and digital asset solutions whether they are Liberty Alliance, Microsoft, or OASIS.

CSS will also extend into the emerging realm of grid computing, blade-centric computing and machine to machine computing by allowing for standard driven, always-on communications for operating systems and network devices.

"One of the great computing challenges of this decade is to bring all network-connected devices to common management standards and interfaces," said Martin Reynolds, vice president at Gartner. "Without such technology, device and network management becomes impossible."

On the consumer end, CSS extends usability for OEMs to deliver critical protected applications which include system recovery, antivirus protection and device synchronization.

"Through our Core System Software, Phoenix is making a dramatic change that will become the basis of networked computing for the next two decades," said Albert E. Sisto, Chairman, President and CEO of Phoenix. "For the past two decades, BIOS has been all about PC compatibility based on the original IBM standard. As such, it provided only limited security, no network awareness, and no network connectivity at the core of the PC architecture."

"Today, nearly all digital devices are connected to a network, whether to conduct global commerce or just to access email. This requires an advanced foundation for implementing an extensible and flexible architecture designed specifically for the age of networked computing," said Sisto.

Phoenix is not alone in moving toward such changes. Chip giant Intel has pushed for a successor to BIOS it calls the Intel Platform Innovation Framework for EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface).

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