SOURCE: General Software

April 03, 2007 15:05 ET

General Software, Inc. Announces Faster Boot Time for Windows Vista With Its Embedded BIOS Firmware and Microsoft's Windows ReadyDrive Technology

"Power On" to Desktop Display Measured at 24 Seconds, Compared to 72 Seconds With Traditional BIOS

SAN JOSE, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 3, 2007 -- EMBEDDED SYSTEMS CONFERENCE SILICON VALLEY -- General Software, Inc. demonstrated what it believes is one of the world's fastest boot times for Windows Vista, using a commercially available VIA mainboard and a Samsung Hybrid Hard Disk Drive accelerated by General Software's Embedded BIOS® firmware with StrongFrame™ Technology, at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose today.

The boot time for Windows Vista on the motherboard, from power on to the desktop display was measured at 24 seconds, contrasted to 72 seconds (over a minute) with the traditional one-size-fits-all BIOS installed on the board. The time achieved for resume from hibernation is 11 seconds.

Fast boot time is important to PC users, who want to be able to turn on their PC, laptop, or Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) and begin using it immediately. The same "boot time" principle also affects productivity when a PC resumes from hibernation, a process that can be as lengthy as booting the PC to begin with.

As a part of optimizing the boot time experience for its users, Microsoft worked with General Software to prototype its Windows ReadyDrive feature in Windows Vista, which takes advantage of a special kind of hard disk called a Hybrid Hard Disk Drive, or H-HDD.

"General Software's expertise in BIOS and hardware allowed us to quickly demonstrate the advantages to be gained by modifying BIOS post times. Their embedded BIOS in our proof of concept platform permitted the Windows ReadyDrive technology to be readily optimized to enhance the boot performance," said Mika Krammer, Director of Windows Client Mobility at Microsoft Corporation. "The Windows ReadyDrive software plus fast BIOS post times can significantly enhance the user experience for booting PCs with the Hybrid Hard Disk Drives."

Quickboot for Windows Vista is available now through General Software to ODM/OEMs.

The H-HDD operates similar to a traditional hard disk drive, but avoids the time it takes for the drive to spin-up after being powered on, before its data can be accessed. In traditional drives, this "power on time" can be expensive -- 10 to 20 seconds, depending on the mechanics and diagnostics performed by the drive each time it starts.

"General Software has produced one of the fastest BIOS boot and resume-from-hibernate in the world for Windows Vista running H-HDD on commonly available hardware. We also optimized the BIOS in other ways, including optimizing its disk I/O services, so that when Windows Vista resumes from hibernate, it will be at the maximum transfer rate allowed on the hardware," said Steve Jones, General Software CTO.

"These innovations create a compelling demonstration of Windows Vista booting from an H-HDD, while showcasing how you can eliminate the delay associated with a typical hard drive's spin-up before POST can begin reading data from it," continued Jones.

H-HDD drives augment their mechanical storage with Flash memory, which is ready within milliseconds from "power on," in contrast to the seconds it takes to prepare the rotating storage for access. In order to achieve this, Microsoft developed Windows ReadyDrive, a feature of Windows Vista that, among other things, causes key files within Windows Vista to be placed in the quick-access Flash memory on H-HDD devices, bypassing the slow spin-up time.

Samsung's MH80 Series hybrid hard drive is offered in 80GB, 120GB and 160GB capacities. Optimized to work in conjunction with Windows Vista capable notebook PCs, Samsung's MH80 is a 2.5-inch hybrid hard drive with 256 megabytes of flash memory. The hybrid hard drive preserves the high densities of magnetic storage technology, while the advanced NAND flash technology enhances the overall value with lowered power consumption, higher reliability and faster read/write access than traditional hard drives.

During development, H-HDD drives became ready long before traditional PC BIOS was able to get through POST, or Power-On-Self-Test. Microsoft engaged General Software, a Windows Embedded Gold Partner, to produce BIOS firmware that could get through POST quickly, so that the H-HDD could be accessed early.

General Software's special Embedded BIOS firmware was able to achieve a POST time of 0.838ms, well under one second.

In addition to saving the 20-30 seconds normally spent by the BIOS and hard disk to spin up, Microsoft and General Software looked for additional ways to optimize boot-time performance of Windows Vista, including the time after POST, where Windows Vista cooperates with the BIOS to load its key files into memory. In a traditional BIOS this early file loading is performed in a slower "compatibility mode" that is not optimized for today's standard hard drives.

To further optimize boot time, General Software added the same high-speed Ultra DMA (UDMA) technology in its BIOS that Windows Vista uses during its normal operation, allowing Windows Vista to boot at the full speed afforded by today's modern hardware.

General Software recently announced its StrongFrame technology that creates targeted firmware cores for a wide range of applications. StrongFrame leverages proprietary programming of CPU, chipset, SIO, whole boards, and other building blocks across all General Software's specialized cores, so that the same set of silicon programming modules can be used across unique applications.

With StrongFrame, OEMs can quickly produce and differentiate motherboards for multiple markets, saving money and time otherwise spent on having to independently build firmware for these markets.

About StrongFrame™ Technology

StrongFrame Technology is the framework that enables targeted cores to be built for every application, while leveraging common libraries of software across those cores. Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) choose StrongFrame cores to gain the strength, flexibility, and long life expected from firmware supporting targeted applications that have special requirements, such as targeted PCs, mobile PCs, differentiated mainboards, industrial PCs, servers, telecom/datacom equipment, and embedded devices with unique needs.

About Embedded BIOS with StrongFrame Technology

Embedded BIOS with StrongFrame Technology is the leading firmware offering ODM and OEM manufacturers unsurpassed configuration flexibility, rapid and risk-reducing deployment tools, deep compatibility with x86 industry standards, support for the widest range of embedded chipsets, CPUs, and SIO building blocks, and support for multiple core versions and module versions within the same architectural framework. Embedded BIOS with StrongFrame Technology addresses the entire lifecycle of products, from board bring-up, configuration prototyping, testing with system diagnostics, and product manufacturing to in-field diagnostics and software reload.

About General Software, Inc.

For nearly 20 years, General Software has provided firmware for a wide range of applications including Ultra-Mobile PCs, industrial PCs, targeted PCs, differentiated mainboards, telecom/datacom equipment, servers, blades, and embedded devices including medical, gaming, kiosks, point-of-sale, DVR, and commercial and military avionics. Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) choose the General Software® brand for the domain expertise and experience that gets customers to market quickly and reduces project risks. For more information about General Software visit www.gensw.com, e-mail sales@gensw.com, or call us at 800.850.5755 or 425.576.8300.

About Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2006 parent company sales of US$63.4 billion and net income of US$8.5 billion. Employing approximately 138,000 people in 124 offices in 56 countries, the company consists of five main business areas: Digital Media, Telecommunication Network, Semiconductor, LCD, and Digital Appliance. Recognized as one of the fastest growing global brands, Samsung Electronics is a leading producer of digital TVs, memory chips, mobile phones, and TFT-LCDs. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.

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