When we wrote about Intel's new floppy-free BIOS update utility last week, we said we'd tell you how we got on.
So we will.
The new Express BIOS Update allows users to update the BIOS on an Intel VC820, D815EEA or MO810E mobo from within Windows. The utility is 1.2MB in size and can be downloaded from Intel's support Web site. Over the weekend we tried it on a Vancouver VC820 and it worked perfectly, and very quickly.
After downloading the self-extracting utility, Express BIOS Update automatically shuts down the system, updates the BIOS, and reboots. There's even a friendly little message to tell you it's all gone to plan. It's certainly a lot simpler than the previous mechanism, complete with its dire warnings about doom and destruction if the machine powers down for any reason during the update.
Things we'd like to see included in the next version are to separate the utility and BIOS image - the current VC820 BIOS is a shade over 600KB in size, while the Express Update version of it is more than twice that.
Separating the two components would enable integrators to download the utility once and have a much smaller download each time the BIOS moved to a new rev. It would also be nice if the utility were enhanced to report the current BIOS version and settings from within Windows.
The new VC820 BIOS also includes Intel Rapid BIOS Boot (RBB) which streamlines Power On Self Test (POST) running tasks in parallel, eliminating redundant code and reducing legacy features in a bid to meet the PC2001 Design Guide which specifies a seven second POST and HD spin up.
RBB is optimized for Windows ME and Intel claims it reduces the combined BIOS and OS boot time from 35 to 20 seconds. Windows 98 boot comes down from just over a minute to 45 seconds.
Intel doesn't quote the CPU used to achieve these times, but on our Win2K box (Pentium III 933, 256MB PC700 RDRAM), total boot time from cold, including loading all the network gubbins, came down from 78 to 65 seconds, of which 12 seconds was accounted for in synching up the monitor.
Hard drive spin up times and monitor sync-up rates can add an extra 30 seconds to boot time - a 10,000rpm drive may take as much as 25 seconds to spin up compared with a 5400rpm drive which can be ready for use in as little as five seconds.
All future Intel mobos will feature RBB. ®