BIOS Arcana.

The folks over at one of my favorite tech-geek sites, Ars Technica, have put up a guide to one of the lesser known aspects of PCs: The BIOS.

A word on what a BIOS is. Back in the dark days of AT and 286es, IBM were facing problems of their architecture already. Systems were implemented in different ways, and there had to be a way to make the operating system know what’s going on. Back then, we didn’t have drivers and HALs and needed something actually in hardware—the BIOS. Meaning Basic Input/Output system, it was exactly that, a standard way of getting at the hardware. Long before the term “API” was born, BIOS was a basic API. You could call BIOS ROM routines to handle video, PC speaker beeps, the keyboard, and so forth. Operating systems interfaced with the system like this for a long time.

Even for someone used to building PCs by hand, the BIOS can be somewhat daunting and cryptic, but proper adjustments to it can make the difference between good system performance and outstanding system performance. So, if you’ve ever wondered just what the hell all of those settings mean and what you might do with them then you’ll want to check out the BIOS Arcana guide.

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