UEFI Architecture and Technical Overview

Home >> | Back to Courseware Access page >> | Back to Other Courseware Content page >> |


UEFI Curriculum

About UEFI

UEFI-Framework Course Contents

Introduction to PC Architecture

Beyond BIOS

UEFI Introduction

UEFI Architecture and Technical Overview

UEFI Application

UEFI Shell

UEFI Boot Manager

UEFI Services

UEFI Drivers

Framework Architecture and Technical Overview



Potential research topics


• UEFI Technical Overview

– UEFI Terminology – What is the UEFI System Table?

– What is a Device Path

– EFI 1.1 and UEFI 2.0 differences

– EFI Byte code

• Technology not addressed by UEFI

• Summary



UEFI Technical Overview

What is UEFI?

• Extensible Firmware Interface

• UEFI is an interface specification

• Abstracts the platform from OS

– Decouples development

• Includes a modular driver model and CPU-independent option ROMs

– Offers promise of improved RAS

• Compatible by design

– Evolution, not revolution

• Modular and extensible

– OS-Neutral value add

• Complements existing interfaces


UEFI Specification - Key Concepts

• Objects - manage system state, including I/O devices, memory, and events

• The UEFI System Table - data structure with data in-formation tables to interface with the systems

• Handle database and protocols - callable interfaces that are registered

• UEFI images - the executable content format

• Events - the software can be signaled in response to some other activity

• Device paths - a data structure that describes the hardware location of an entity

Objects Managed by UEFI Firmware

What is the UEFI System Table

• Firmware implementation information

– Read only for peripheral drivers

– Specification version

– Interface to UEFI protocols

– Interface to other standards…

UEFI System Table

UEFI Data Structures - EFI System Table


• “Globally” Unique Identity

– 128-bit quantity defined by Wired for Management WfM 2.0 specification http://www.intel.com/design/archives/wfm/index.htm

• Used to identify protocols

– 1:1 with interfaces

• Regulate extension mechanism

– Documented in the spec

– Added through drivers

Protocols (API)

• GUID, Interface Structure, Services





• All protocols have a handle which is associated with the protocol

• Every device and executable image in UEFI has a handle protocol in the handle database

• Every boot device must have a device path protocol to describe it

Handle Protocol Database

Legacy BIOS vs UEFI


GUID1 UEFI Specification GUID2 Framework Specification GUID3 ODM defined

GUID4 OEM defined GUID5 IBV defined


Device Path Protocol

• A data structure description of where a device is in the platform

• All boot devices, logical devices and images must be described by a device path

• 6 types of device paths:



– UID/HID of device in AML


– i.e. LAN, Fiber Channel, ATAPI, SCSI, USB


– i.e. Hard Drive, Floppy or CD-ROM

–EDD 3.0 boot device

– see EDD 3.0 spec int13 48

–End of hardware

– marks end of device path



Device Path Examples

• Acpi(PNP0A03,0)/Pci(1F|1)/Ata(Primary,Master)/HD(Part3, Sig00110011)

• Acpi(PNP0A03,1)/Pci(1E/0)/Pci(0|0)/Mac(0002B3647D69)

• Acpi(PNP0A03,0)/Pci(1F|0)/Acpi(PNP0501,0)/Uart(115200 81)


EFI 1.1 vs. UEFI

Items being changed or deprecated

UGA Protocols, SCSI Passthrough, USB Host Controller, Device I/O


New Items

Added Networking APIs, Intel® 64 binding, Service Binding, Tape I/O, Hash,

DevicePath Utilities, CreateEventEx, UpdateCapsule, iSCSI Initiator,

QueryCapsuleCapabilities, QueryVariableInfo, AuthenticationInfo


Items that are not changing

Loaded Image, Device Path, Driver Binding, Platform Driver Override,

Bus Specific Override, Driver Configuration, Driver Diagnostics,

Component Name, Simple Text Input, Simple Text Output, Simple Pointer,

Serial IO, Load File, Simple File System, File Protocol, Disk IO,

Block IO, Unicode Collation, PCI Root Bridge IO, PCI IO, SCSI IO,

USB IO, Simple Network, PXE BC, Network Identifier Interface, BIS,

Debug Support, Debug Port, Decompress, Device IO, EBC, RaiseTPL,

RestoreTPL, AllocatePages, FreePages, GetMemoryMap, AllocatePool,

FreePool, CreateEvent, SetTimer, WaitforEvent, SignalEvent,

CloseEvent, CheckEvent, InstallProtocolInterface, ReinstallProtocolInterface,

UninstallProtocolInterface, HandleProtocol, LocateHandle, LocateDevicePath,

InstallConfigurationTable, LoadImage, StartImage, Exit, UnloadImage,

ExitBootServices, GetNextMonotonicCount, Stall, SetWatchdogTimer,

ConnectController, DisconnectController, OpenProtocol, CloseProtocol,

OpenProtocolInformation, ProtocolsPerHandle, LocateHandleBuffer,

LocateProtocol, InstallMultipleProtocolInterfaces, UninstallprotocolInterfaces,

CalculateCrc32, CopyMem, SetMem, GetTime, SetTime, GetWakeupTime,

SetWakeupTime, SetVirtualAddressMap, ConvertPointer, GetNextVariable,

GetVariable, SetVariable, GetNextHighMonotonicCount, ResetSystem, ...



UEFI 2.1 Published 2007

• A smaller update than the 2.0 iteration

–Backlog that needed more gestation time

–Aiming for mid year 2006 completion

• User interface presentation

–Aiming to define interfaces that support integration of setup/configuration functions for motherboard and add-in devices

• Security/Integrity related enhancements

–Provide service interfaces for UEFI drivers that want to operate with high integrity implementations of UEFI

• Various other subject areas possible

–More boot devices, error reporting, etc.


What’s supported?

• The community is in the progress of switching from EFI 1.1 to UEFI 2.x.

–EFI 1.1 protocols –UEFI 2.0 protocols starting to replace EFI 1.1 protocols –New UEFI 2.1 protocols have been added



EFI Byte Code Overview

• Single image supports multiple platforms

• Code is interpreted on Intel Itanium® Architecture and IA-32 systems

• IHVs develop only once

Technology not addressed by UEFI

Why Do More Than UEFI?

• EFI Sample Implementation on IA32 too large for today’s desktop, mobile and handheld flash allotment.

• Opportunity to drive C-code and modularity much closer to Si with all architectures in mind.

• Make IA firmware development competitive with RISC implementations.


UEFI on BIOS is NOT Good Enough


• Memory Initialization

• Recovery

• FLASH update


• Platform Initialization

• System Management Mode (SMM)

• Setup

UEFI Separates BIOS and OS



UEFI Firmware Software Stack


• UEFI on top of Legacy isn’t good enough.

• Inherit the same issue

• Legacy is still the heart of the system

• BIOS’s between teams not standardized

–Changes like this mean major overhaul of System BIOS

–Much rework


• Foundation lets different teams share code

• Developers can easily move between projects

• Chipset code enabled by Silicon vendor

• Standardization benefits the industry

• IBV provides value add

• Glue code is Open Source




• UEFI as an interface is settled –firmly on the Industry’s Roadmap

• UEFI breaks through fundamental BIOS barriers

• UEFI Solves Option ROM problem

• The Framework is not just another “core” code base … It’s a new purpose-built architecture for firmware

– UEFI / EFI on top of BIOS is not a good solution

For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.


anonymous's picture

Can anyone out there help me on how to upgrade BIOS to UEFI only , im doing a study on UEFI BIOS and the differences it has to the original BIOS in my undergraduate degree major project at university. Im using Intel Dq45cb board and would like to know if I can run just the UEFI BIOS on this motherboard, if yes how can I flash this boards BIOS to UEFI or what upgrade would be best.

anonymous's picture


From what version HII support is added to UEFI?

anonymous's picture

Hi Wolfgang-

What does the x58 translate to in terms of 5000, 5500, 5520, etc.?

It's a mystery to me why motherboard manufacturers are so negligent in pointing out this support. Try going to just about any motherboard manufacturer's website and searching for uefi. Prepare to be underwhelmed.


anonymous's picture


Is there any way to find out whether this particular system supports EUFI(EFI) standard?


wolfgang-rosenbergsr (Intel)'s picture

Experts told me that all Intel server boards starting from 'Nehalem' x58 have UEFI 2.x support. Hope this helps. Regards WR

anonymous's picture

All Intel's x58 motherboards use Tiano firmware and UEFI, right?

wolfgang-rosenbergsr (Intel)'s picture

(Shell application is not built into the flash. Whoever needs the Shell, should download it from Tianocore.org and put it on a USB flash device that is FAT formatted or on a CDROM)
Regards WR

wolfgang-rosenbergsr (Intel)'s picture

Here are a few of commercially UEFI supported systems (mostly UEFI 2.0 compliant).
1. Desktop board DQ45CB will boot to an EFI Shell application HP EliteBook 8530p.
2. HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation, Notebook PC and Tablet PCs (e.g., 8530p, 8530w, 8730w, 6930p, 2530p, 2730p, etc)
3. HP Integrity Servers and Server Blades
4. HP Compaq NoteBook PCs (e.g., 6735s, 6535s, 6735b, 6535b, 6730s, 6830s, 6530b, 6730b, 2230s, etc.)
5. MSI Wind (Netbook)
6. Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1 (Atom UMPC)
7. Sony M750 (Notebook)

Hope this helps
Gegards WR

anonymous's picture

I am also interested in the list of motherboards that support UEFI 2.0 and allow access to the UEFI Shell.

anonymous's picture

I am looking for UEFI 2.0 or 2.1 compliant systems. Can you please let me what Intel chipsets support UEFI 2.0/2.1 and also has an inbuild UEFI shell?


Add a Comment

Have a technical question? Visit our forums. Have site or software product issues? Contact support.