Intel Developing Universal Scalable Firmware As Next-Gen Firmware Platform

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 17 November 2021 at 01:55 PM EST. 4 Comments
Intel passed along news today of their development efforts around Universal Scalable Firmware, a new initiative they are pursuing to simplify and scale firmware development for hardware from edge computing devices to the cloud.

Intel has published a draft specification for the Universal Scalable Firmware (USF) that they hope will adapt well for new silicon and platform technologies. Universal Scalable Firmware builds on existing industry standards like UEFI and ACPI. USF introduces new abstractions and domain boundaries between the SoC, platform, and operating system.

Universal Scalable Firmware intends to extend its scope beyond just system firmware but is also planned for use by Intel discrete graphics processors. USF is also designed to offer greater firmware security than the status quo. The key planned features/components right now include a Universal Payload that can work across different operating systems and boot loaders, the Platform Orchestration Layer with simplified ACPI support and interfaces with the Rust programming language and configured with YAML, and the SoC FSP. Intel is hoping USF will reduce development costs, improve firmware quality and security, and push forward other new firmware innovations.

While the Universal Scalable Firmware is intended to be "open", Intel does acknowledge it consists both of an external industry specification and their own internal specification that will cover the SoC construction and internal interfaces between the hardware and firmware. As such, we are guessing no changes at this point around Intel open-sourcing their FSP or making USF a fully open-source firmware stack.

Intel has relayed words they intend to enable key open-source projects like TianoCore, Coreboot, and the SLim bootloader with USF support.

Those wishing to learn more about the Universal Scalable Firmware can see this GitHub project with the tentative public-side documentation as well as their Linux payload, Slim bootloader, and Coreboot work, among other ongoing software efforts. Those wanting to jump straight to the tentative documentation can find it at this page.
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