Was EFI a smart move for Apple?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hugodrax, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    It seems that for the User EFI offers nothing positive.

    #1 32/64 Bit issues making it more complex than needed. BIOS users have no concerns.

    #2 Difficulty in videocard supply for Apple, EFI cards are the black sheep in the industry, If Apple chose BIOS then apple would never have issues with sourcing the videocards etc.

    What makes EFI better than Bios?
  2. Giuly macrumors 68040


    1) The MBR partition scheme that BIOSes use can't boot drives larger then 2.1TB.
    2) You can't install Mac OS X on a machine running on a BIOS (Well, at least they thought so).
    3) Intel proposed EFI as the modern replacement for the BIOS even for PCs, even if as of now, there are like 2 motherboard which use it.

    Just read the EFI-article on Wikipedia.
  3. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    It enables things that Mac users expect and demand like target disk mode.
  4. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
  5. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
  6. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    1st, it doesnt matter much for graphic cards, because manufacturers would still have to write drivers

    2nd, is doesnt matter much for 64 bit, because it's only the kernel that enables 64-bit from EFI, and 64 bit kernel won't be that advantegous for like 10 more years

    trust me, microsoft would go EFI if they could, they are stuck with 20 year old bios crap because it would take a complete windows rebuild to enable EFI.
  7. Vylen macrumors 65816

    Jun 3, 2010
    Sydney, Australia

  8. hugodrax thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    So what is holding up EFI becoming a standard on PC motherboards?
  9. Giuly macrumors 68040


    American Megatrends and Phoenix, I guess.
    Only thing you can get at the moment are Core2-motherboard with UEFI.
  10. hyram macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2009
    Actually it's the board vendors that are dragging their feet on changing. AMI and Phoenix would love to move everyone to EFI... better profit margin for them.

    Back to the orignial question: Was it a good move for Apple? Well if Apple was looking for a firmware that is difficult to hack then I'd say they got their money's worth.
  11. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    Interesting that this topic came up.

    I was playing around with some beta stuff from MS and I wanted to update the BIOS on the old PC. The BIOS file was 2 megs.

    The ONLY way to update THAT system was by way of a 1.44MB floppy.

    Try that using BIOS.
  12. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Hmm, MSI made some recent noises that was going to change gears :



    About 2 years after MSI said they were going to start to transition to UEFI ( EFI at the time ) though. The barrier at > 2TB drives is a problem. [ similar growth was needed to kill off FAT for NTFS over time. At some point the drives got too big for the multiple decade old assumptions present in FAT. ] The board vendors don't need the "disco" UI in some of those pictures though. Something extremely simple will do just fine.

    One major problem was in part Microsoft. The mainstream version of XP that most folks used (32-bit XP ) would not boot on UEFI. Now that 32-bit XP is finally dying off there is a WinPC market for UEFI boards. As long as the vast majority if boards were being aimed at XP there wasn't.

    At this point the mainstream new system ship is rapidly becoming Windows7 64-bit. That means there is a market now. By the end of the year that should be firmly established as a volume shipping config.

    As per the wikipedia article Hyper-V also supports UEFI . If some server boards start picking it up and limited to Hyper-V then VMWare will probably get off the pot and support it too. ( works for Fusion just not in there bare-metal hypervisors . )

    It will be interesting for Apple when EFI is less of a defacto dongle. Don't think the hackintosh market really worries them much. As long as individual users have to cobble together their own solution (with help from the web and mail order vendors ) it isn't a big deal. Especially in the light of Mac unit sales growth. As long as growth continues and it is primarily the "users we don't have good product match with in the first place" building hackintoshes with retail copies of Mac OS X they won't care.

    If sales go down and there is massive pirating of Mac OS X retail copies then they'll start throwing in gratuitous changes to block folks. They will fork Darwin or start adding deeper internal ID checks.
  13. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Nothing. Quite a few PC motherboards are EFI. My Pentium 4 board years and years ago was EFI.

    The problem really is Windows. Windows didn't support EFI for the longest time... even though it now does, no manufacturers are installing it in EFI mode, and if they did, it wouldn't be backwards compatible with non-EFI hardware in some cases.

    Really there just isn't any momentum on the Windows side to move off of EFI. Eventually the wheels will come off of BIOS (like with the 2.1 TB boot drive limit), and there will be a big emergency on the PC side, and everyone will have to switch over. Meantime us Mac users can be smug throughout.

    I'm really glad they went with EFI. Going from Open Firmware on the PowerPC to BIOS would have been a massive downgrade. EFI can do everything Open Firmware could, and more.

    Erm. EFI isn't the only requirement for booting OS X. There are already checks beyond just needing EFI. OS X won't boot on vanilla EFI.

    My Pentium 4 box that I already mentioned, for example, could not boot OS X without needing the hackintosh treatment, even though it was EFI (and SSE3).
  14. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    EFI is more commonplace than you'd think, a lot of Sony machines (including the one I'm using right now) use AMI Aptio.. which to my surprise IS EFI. Hahaha. :D
  15. slughead macrumors 68040


    Apr 28, 2004
    ... And then they promptly dropped firewire from their Macbooks.
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    As usual, Apple was ridiculously early to the party.

    Once you start seeing 2tb drives as commonplace, you'll start seeing the major OEM's using UEFI instead of BIOS. This will push the major motherboard vendors to transition mostly to UEFI, and sites like newegg will have a major glut of UEFI boards.

    It's far from an emergency like some would say *cough*goMac*cough*. It's just like Windows existed in a 64 bit form for years without being popular, until all of a sudden computers started coming with 4gb of RAM, and then everyone transitioned. It's the same thing that will happen, only with motherboards instead of OS's this time around.
  17. tjernis macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2007
    First 3 TB consumer drives are external ...

    Anandtech's recent review of the external Seagate 3 TB drive, highlights the reason for EFI (page 2):

  18. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If Microsoft (who helped co-developed) EFI was more forthright in pushing computer manufacturers to adopt EFI then yeah, I'd say it was a smart move.

    I've often wondered by apple went with EFI instead of BIOS. My paranoid nature leads me to believe that the move was done because they could maintain an isolated platform to some degree.
  19. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Hence my writeup to dismantle them and throw them into iMacs and MacPros.
    That's one point, the other one is that OpenFirmware already was more modern than BIOS.
    The Apple-EFI has a BIOS emulation layer, and it runs XP fine via Bootcamp, so this can be ruled out.
  20. netkas macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    3tb argument for efi is kinda lame

    bios can access up to 2tb on 3tb hdd.

    All you need is booter and osx located bellow 2tb barrier, but even then, you can integrate ata driver (its not hard) into booter and use all 3tb+ jsut fine from booter, which could be small enough and be placed in first 2tb of hdd space.

    so, a simple solution to this - create gpt on 3tb disk, place smart booter to hiden efi partittion (first 200mb always), and u done, 3tb on bios :p
  21. Giuly macrumors 68040


    GPT is indeed the solution, the point is that it's part of EFI. MBR and it's 32Bit-LBA is the bottleneck.
  22. netkas macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    gpt/mbr is not tied to any boot rom (bios or efi)

    you can use any with any.
  23. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I said eventually it would be an emergency, not that it is one now. :p

    The real issue with the BIOS emulation layer (which a lot of PC's are actually using right now), is that as long as people are still using it, vendors have no reason to ship EFI hardware and can continue shipping BIOS hardware.
  24. gkolotelo macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2010
    Where is EFI Framework located anyways ?
    I know that BIOS is located on a chip onto the Motheboard, is this the case with EFI ?

    Other thing I don`t get is how can OS X work with BIOS based systems (Hackintosh) if it`s made for EFI systems. Although hackers modify the kernel, isn`t it supposed to interact with the Framework, instead of directly interacting with the hardware ?

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