General Software Unveils Embedded BIOS 2000 Version 5.2

9/12/2003 - General Software, Inc., the leading supplier of x86 embedded firmware, has released a new version of its Embedded BIOS® 2000 Adaptation Kit to manufacturers of embedded devices. Embedded BIOS 2000 Version 5.2 builds on the Company’s extensive embedded technology and advances its core functionality and features. This release includes extensive support for the industry standard Universal Serial Bus specification 2.0, in addition to general product enhancements.

Version 5.2's major offering is a full-scale pre-boot USB stack, including Legacy USB support as well as USB Mass Storage support. Based on General Software's Firmbase® technology, it has a modular firmware driver-based architecture that supports any combination of up to 8 OHCI and 8 UHCI controllers in an embedded target. The ODM/OEM can assign specific USB buses and controllers to specific functions, such as mass storage, legacy USB, and proprietary USB devices, to meet security or load balancing requirements of embedded systems.

Legacy USB provides for the emulation of a costly keyboard controller and PS/2 keyboard and mouse in embedded systems that need to cut design costs. Because some designs incorporate an 8042 keyboard controller in a legacy-free design, General Software's legacy USB feature works in designs with and without an 8042. General Software’s Legacy USB feature supports up to eight USB keyboards and at the same time.

The new USB Mass Storage feature of Embedded BIOS 2000 v5.2 can boot operating systems, including those without intrinsic USB support, from USB floppy disks, USB hard disks, USB solid state disks (i.e., "disk on key"), and USB CDROM/CDR/DVD drives. Performance of the USB Mass Storage feature is boosted significantly by the fact that the feature runs in the Firmbase operating environment, which has access to multiple megabytes of memory for caching, unlike desktop BIOS USB systems.

"The new USB architecture in version 5.2 is a real enabler for embedded systems developers, who need high configurability, low cost, and a very low footprint," said Steve Jones, Founder & CTO of General Software, Inc. "USB is a defacto standard for x86-based firmware, and all major operating systems are supporting it. Today's USB host controllers are being given away as a part of most chipset solutions, ready to be enabled by Embedded BIOS. ODMs and OEMs can now make substantial cost savings by eliminating costly keyboard and mass storage interfaces from their designs, and they can eliminate the need to license expensive USB SDKs from third parties. Embedded BIOS 5.2 has this support built-in, and we've made sure the feature is enabled for all the popular chipset support modules we sell."

The new USB features of Embedded BIOS 2000 v5.2 were developed in the Firmbase operating environment, General Software's nonstop SMM management software integrated into Embedded BIOS 2000. Firmbase runs 32-bit protected mode applications, such as General Software's USB protocol suite, from within the insulating protection of a third operating mode of the CPU-- System Management Mode. The Firmbase operating environment runs on the target during POST, while the OS is booting, as the OS is running, and even when the OS crashes or is missing from the boot device. Because it continues to run whether the OS runs or not, it is always available, making it an ideal platform solution for embedded OEMs' high availability needs.

Standard Embedded BIOS 2000 features include burn-in diagnostics, a built-in debugger, remote access disk and Flash updating, on-target BIOS re-flashing, headless and remote console operation, solid-state disk emulators, and optional multimedia (graphical and/or audio) POST. Other features provide OEM-configurable POST, dynamic OEM-written policy at the board design level, memory management, chipset, Super I/O, CPU configuration, and a comprehensive setup screen system.

With Embedded BIOS 2000, OEMs are able to boot all industry-standard operating systems on any embedded hardware that is capable of supporting those operating systems.

Embedded BIOS 2000 offers the most comprehensive, on-target features for x86 embedded systems of all available BIOS and firmware products. The modular design of the Embedded BIOS Adaptation Kit allows an OEM to support multiple, on-going BIOS adaptations while leveraging an extensive library of CPU, chipset, and board-specific features.

Embedded BIOS 2000 supports the entire lifecycle of an embedded product, from board bring-up, configuration prototyping, testing with system diagnostics, and product manufacturing to in-field diagnostics and software reload. Embedded BIOS® also serves as the HAL for General Software’s Firmbase® operating environment.

About General Software, Inc.
General Software, Inc. provides superior enabling firmware and world-class support for OEM manufacturers of telecommunications, data communications, consumer electronics, dedicated servers, and other specialized computing devices. General Software’s well-architected and reliable firmware products reduce risk and speed development. For more information about Embedded BIOS 2000 and Firmbase, visit, e-mail, or contact David Tobar at 800-850-5755 or 425-576-8300.

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