Before going into various subheads about the significance and functionalities of BIOS, it is essential to know that what BIOS is. The term BIOS is a simple acronym of firmware interface for compatible computers of IBM PC. The full form is Basic Output or Input System (BIOS). It is also known as ROM BIOS or System Bios. It is inbuilt software of PC and is the first code that is run by a PC when it is switched on.
What are the basic functions of BIOS?
The basic function of BIOS is to have a power-on self-test. This is a process where the BIOS checks in and identifies the devices like CPU, RAM, mouse, keyboard, audio devices, video display card, disk hard drive, optical disk drive and other hardware present in your system. The next function of BIOS is to locate the boot loader software in the hard disk or CD/DVD (if mounted). After it has located the software, it executes it and hands over the control of PC to that particular software. This whole process is termed as booting.
Where is BIOS stored?
BIOS is stored or rather located in a specially crafted non-volatile chip in the motherboard. Each model of the computer has its own specifically designed BIOS, thereby making it more compatible with the interface of the chipset. Some modern computers also have the ability to rewrite the BIOS chipset over the motherboard without removing it, and thus upgrading the BIOS.
What users can do with BIOS?
The user can access BIOS user interface (UI) by pressing a specific key when computer starts up. For Windows OS, we have a specific key “F8” to go into the BIOS mode. In this, the user can do the following functions:
- Configure hardware.
- Set the system’s clock.
- Enable or Disable the systems content.
- Creating or configuring password prompts, like the password to have a secured access to the BIOS UI, and thus, making your device safe from unauthorized logins.
- Select devices, which can be a potential boot device.
Features of BIOS
Though the role of BIOS has changed much over time, there are few basic features, which it performed in past and they are used presently as well. It completely varies from the functions it did in the early stages of its development to the present day. BIOS provides a small basic function (both input and output), which, on the other hand, are used to operate and control the various peripherals (including keyboard, mouse and other such output devices). This software library functions are also called external software.
Significance of BIOS in 2012
Standing in the year 2012, the role or significance of BIOS has changed all together as compared to the past. More complex Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) have taken place in some complex systems, but BIOS is still used extensively all around the world. EFI is still a part of higher versions of the Windows, Linux and Mac OS, which is compatible with it.