Phoenix toughens up BIOS

The software that sits between the operating system and a PC's hardware hasn't changed much in decades. Now, Phoenix Technologies wants to introduce greater security, usability and copy protection. Phoenix, one of the biggest makers of BIOS (basic input/output system) software, has released the first entry in a line of next-generation products that it promises will drive utility computing and prevent unauthorized users from misusing protected intellectual property.

The Core Managed Environment (CME) TrustedCore NB for notebooks and tablet PCs, announced this week, is the first product in Phoenix's Core System Software (CSS) category, designed to extend the usefulness of the humble BIOS. TrustedCore NB is meant to allow businesses to keep their mobile computers safe from identity theft, unauthorized network access and data loss. Future versions will take aim at servers, blades, desktops and embedded systems such as consumer electronics, with plans to introduce digital rights management (DRM) and more closely integrate the BIOS with Windows.

A BIOS is the software that ties the operating system to a PC's hardware. It carries out basic tasks, such as hardware and system configuration, and has been standardized and made simple enough to allow the installation of alternative operating systems, including Linux. Phoenix's CSS is a next-generation BIOS with a more sophisticated integration of operating system and hardware, making it easier for system administrators to remotely monitor the hardware configurations of their systems, for example. It is built on a framework Phoenix that calls Device-Networked Architecture, or D-NA, and is part of a trend on the part of information technology powers such as Microsoft and Intel to introduce "trustworthy computing" into their products at a more basic level.

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