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BIOS boots Atom from SD

Mar 13, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Eltan announced BIOS extensions aimed at letting embedded devices based on Atom processors boot unattended from SD, SDHC, MMC, or eMMC (embedded multimedia card) storage. The “Boot from SD card” technology is available standalone, or as Phoenix or Award BIOS modules, says Eltan.

While some BIOSes already allow computers to boot from SD or MMC devices, they often require these devices to be interfaced via USB or IDE. In addition, even when SD/MMC booting is possible, it may require a user to make a menu choice manually — literally a non-starter when it comes to unattended, embedded devices.

Eltan claims its “Boot from SD” technology gets around this problem by leveraging the SDIO support built into the SCH US15W, the combination northbridge/southbridge chip that's used by devices employing Intel's Atom Z5xx processor. With Eltan's BIOS extensions, these systems can boot directly from SD or MMC storage, without the additional cost of a USB card reader, the company says. The technology apparently doesn't work with Intel's netbook-style Atom, the N270, and its 82945GSE/ICH7M chipset, however.

Touting Boot from SD as enabling a “breakthrough price performance ratio,” Eltan notes that SD, SDHC, and eMMC [see a PDF link, here, for background on the latter] devices are low-cost, and available in a wide range of capacities. Driven down in price by mobile phone developments, these components allow board manufacturers to add memory as affordably as possible, Eltan claims.

Based in Holland, Eltan describes itself as specializing in embedded PC and communication technology, hardware design, BIOS, drivers, and operating systems, and in bringing products to market. Since its inception, it has been an independent engineering company for Phoenix BIOS implementation, the company says.


Eltan says Boot from SD is available as a complete BIOS ROM, or in the form of code that can be integrated into Phoenix and Award BIOS code bases. Pricing was not released, but the technology appears to be on sale now.

As a BIOS-level technology, Boot from SD should be operating system-agnostic, and most likely supports Windows XP Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard 2009, Windows CE, and any other x86 operating system.

Recent stories: Z5xx boards with SDIO:

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