The Null Device

RIP OpenFirmware

Apparently another casualty of Apple's move to Intel is OpenFirmware; the standardised, portable, FORTH-based firmware used on PowerPC Macs has been replaced by Intel's proprietary, architecture-specific EFI (originally designed for the next generation of Windows machines). Which further locks Apple into one vendor (unless, of course, they further redesign their platform), and relegates OpenFirmware to the graveyard of cool technologies, alongside the likes of NeWS, Open Look, and numerous non-PC architectures.

And it's increasingly looking like the main architectural difference between the new Intel-based Macs and, say, Dells or Sony Vaios, could be the key in the DRM chip which authenticates it as an Apple, allowing MacOS X to run on it.

There are 3 comments on "RIP OpenFirmware":

Posted by: toby http:// Sat Jan 14 03:14:33 2006

In what way is EFI proprietary and architecture specific? It looks pretty open to me, as well as being architecture agnostic; there's a bytecode interpreter built into it for writing portable device drivers/POST routines.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sun Jan 15 01:46:00 2006

I take your point about the bytecode, though isn't it owned and licensed by Intel, who have a vested interest in their own architectures? As such, wouldn't EFI becoming a de facto standard in OpenFirmware's place freeze out the likes of SPARC and (what remains of) PowerPC?

Posted by: toby http:// Sun Jan 15 21:12:59 2006

I doubt it. At the worst, other architectures will continue to use other boot methods, and all the x86 world will change over to EFI. Big win for x86 hardware/OS people, no change for the rest. Apple have shown that switching architectures doesn't preclude changing boot code - in fact, apart from the TPM, I think it makes very little difference.

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