By using QNX fastboot technology on Intel Atom processor based ultra-small nanoETXexpress computer-on-modules, systems designers can achieve instant-on functionality while taking advantage of the x86 compatibility and high performance per watt of Intel Atom processors. Developers can achieve dramatic boot-time and performance gains by replacing the BIOS with customized early initialization of peripherals. Furthermore, QNX fastboot technology helps developers to profit from the low power efficiency of nanoETXexpress technology by extensively using the zero power S5 sleep state (off) instead of power consuming sleep modes (S1 " S4) at comparable wake up times.
Traditionally, x86 systems have relied on boot firmware called the BIOS (Basic Input Output System), which provides a wide range of device compatibility and detects the system configuration at boot time. However, neither of these capabilities rank high in embedded application requirements. Embedded solutions are typically niche, purpose-specific, or mass-produced devices with the exact same configuration for each device. Some of these applications require boot-times in milliseconds. So the question is: How can developers achieve a fast, BIOS-less boot on open x86 processors, rather than on dedicated controllers? Such an approach would be ideal for:
• real-time control and communication in automotive and security applications
• machine controls such as soft PLCs and HMIs
• mobile applications for measurement and diagnostics
• mobile medical applications, and
• all other "sleeping" (Sleep state S5 = off) applications with a wake-on-x functions
In the automotive sector, instant-on is advantageous for a range of applications, i.e. when a driver turns on the ignition, he wants to have all the vehicle's functions displayed instantly. This is not just a desirable goal for applications such as media consoles or navigation systems which have to instantly start. Car status data is an even more important application area, as data has to be shown on the PC display when the car is started or for real-time car control, which is realized via an embedded PC. Furthermore, instant-on is important for business applications, where data has to be available immediately without the driver having to use the ignition key, e.g. fork-lift truck drivers, courier service drivers, bus and lorry drivers etc. as even when a vehicle is stationary, work processes have to be carried out in order to save valuable time. Additionally, when the system switches itself off when not in use, energy and costs are being saved. This is where instant-on is an absolute must. Furthermore, applications which require regular updates, i.e of traffic data, even when a vehicle is switched off, could also profit from instant-on, as the on time is reduced saving battery operating time.
BIOS boot time
The BIOS can be seen as a miniature operating system responsible for interfacing with the hardware. The portion of the BIOS that has the greatest effect on boot time is the boot code. This code, which executes on system power up, detects and initializes devices attached to the system.