[coreboot] "How come it's so slow?"

ron minnich rminnich at gmail.com
Fri Mar 5 17:58:20 CET 2010

Just got a new nehalem box in for test yesterday. Experiences so far:

1. POST from power-on takes 45 seconds. *45 SECONDS*. Now, I had it
said to me at SCALE7x last year from someone from Intel that all new
BIOSes on Intel chips are really EFI underneath -- is this indicative
of what we are to expect? If so, it's awful. It's 15 times slower than
what we had ten years ago, and 50 times slower than what we can do
today on coreboot.
2. POST from reset took infinity, sometimes, and 60 seconds others.
3. With no keyboard attached, we got the 'Hit any key to continue'
message. I can't this problem still occurs.
4. No PS/2 connectors, which might be ok, except:
5. USB keyboard doesn't work well enough to get to the config screen.
Oh, it works, just not right away. We can't get to the BIOS setup.
6. It's too dumb to realize that if there really are no storage
devices attached, it really ought to try the network. And we can't
force the 'boot from net' setting yet. See (5).

Experiences on a MAC with EFI
1. "How come it's so long to be responsive?"
2. The only way to make it bearable is to load REFIt.
3. there's a file on the "EFI FLASH partition". It defines the
partition tables. Yep, you might think that it could just read the
drive, and no, that's not good enough: it can't boot an installed
linux unless you rebuild this file too.

So, the score so far: we've had a superior open source solution for 10
years, and there are lots of sectors starting to listen (I hear from
more each week), but we're still stuck with Old Fashioned BIOS on our
desktops and servers. :-)

I expect this problem to change this decade, just not sure when :-)


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