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Is this what a hyperspace warp drive looks like?
Firmware offers alternative to Windows headache

Phoenix Technologies Ltd., the world’s leading BIOS provider, has unveiled a new head turning product called HyperSpace.  No, it is not a new warp drive to allow Han Solo to break his record setting spice run from Kessel to Corellia. It is a virtualization product that claims to provide a faster, more secure and battery efficient alternative to Microsoft Windows. 

HyperSpace is a layer of BIOS embedded software that makes it possible to instantly run applications independently of Windows.  These “instant-on” applications will be truncated versions of open-source programs and that are available before, during and after Windows boot up and shut down.

Phoenix is targeting the portable PC market and seeks to capitalize on what critics say are the major faults of Windows: its size, speed, inefficiency and poor security.  HyperSpace allows users to bypass the boot up process and instantly access their favorite applications, such as internet browsers, media players and word processors. It also promises to conserve battery life since Vista is notoriously power intensive. 

HyperSpace will add value to PC vendors by allowing them to remotely trouble shoot and restore customers’ computers.  It also promises to deliver a layer of embedded security that is stronger than the current standards. 

The product is based on a form of virtualization, called a hypervisor, that allows a machine to simultaneously run multiple operating systems.  Phoenix calls this HyperCore, and it is essentially a pared down hypervisor that uses a Zoned Virtual Machine Monitor (ZVMM) to run their core applications along side Windows.  Since HyperSpace is written into the BIOS firmware, its code is essentially secret and more secure argues Woody Hobbs, Phoenix CEO, in an interview with ComputerWorld

In the same conversation, Hobbs said Phoenix Technologies is working with unnamed PC vendors to make HyperSpace enabled computers available by the second quarter of 2008.  Phoenix has partnered with both Intel and AMD to take advantage of built-in
processor virtualization capabilities.  HyperSpace will be compatible with AMD Opteron, Athlon and Intel Core 2 Duo, vPro and Centrino processors.


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Wow
By Procurion on 11/7/2007 11:08:55 AM , Rating: 5
Everyone knew this was coming. I hope the implementation is smooth. How many times a week do we glance at the computer and decide it is not worth the time to wait for a boot-up?

I understand all the reasons people keep their computers running 24/7, but the most effective way for me to insure security is to make the computer unavailable, ie, shut down when not in use-it is also a "green" thing to do! Being able to get small pieces of info when needed would be great.




RE: Wow
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 11:17:54 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't know this was coming, and I don't think it will be successful. Except for a few niche applications, what companies (or individuals for that matter) are going to invest in writing software against a stripped-down proprietary "OS" (and I use the term loosely) that is only available on a small number of Phoenix hypervisor-equipped machines? Maybe I just don't get it.


RE: Wow
By Micronite on 11/7/2007 11:34:01 AM , Rating: 2
Depending on how successful it is, I bet you'll see Microsoft's next OS including a boot-up feature that gets you into IE by just loading simple drivers for standard graphics, network, and hard drive.

That said, I put my home PC into suspend mode religiously. It takes very little time to come out and power consumption is significantly reduced. The only place I can see this being successful is in battery-driven applications like notebooks. Even then, it would get annoying to click on a pdf link and then realize you're in reduced functionality mode and can't launch acrobat.


RE: Wow
By Noya on 11/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: Wow
By Newspapercrane on 11/8/2007 9:52:21 AM , Rating: 1
Yes.

Not everyone uses firefox, you know.


RE: Wow
By murphyslabrat on 11/7/2007 12:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's ingenious. You would not only be "instantly on" (like a console), but you would be unhampered by Window's crappy memory management (not talking Vista's super-fetch, I am talking about their whole memory management sub-system).

BTW, a typo in the text: "paired down OS" should be "pared down OS"


RE: Wow
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 12:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about - what is wrong with Windows memory management system, and how does this solve that "problem"?


RE: Wow
By SavagePotato on 11/7/2007 12:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
I would assume this refers to the address space issue which in fact was already solved via hotfix.


RE: Wow
By tedrodai on 11/8/2007 9:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
I admit, you would be unhampered by Windows' memory management system when using this, but you know nothing about HyperSpace's system. How do you already conclude it is better than Windows'?


RE: Wow
By Great Googly Moogly on 11/7/2007 11:21:01 AM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't it be more along the lines of "how many times a week do we decide it's not worth the time to wait for a reboot"?

I only reboot my computer when I need to change hardware or drivers, and any reboot turns out to be highly annoying.


RE: Wow
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/7/2007 11:24:56 AM , Rating: 3
How many times a day to you reboot your DVR? This is more geared at embedded applications, at first I think.


RE: Wow
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 11:27:24 AM , Rating: 2
The article talks a lot about using it for PCs.


RE: Wow
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/7/2007 11:42:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but the PC is everywhere now. Did you see the announcement earlier this week for Windows Home Server? Bye bye DVR!


RE: Wow
By Homerboy on 11/7/2007 11:53:02 AM , Rating: 1
Not sure how a WHS machine replaces a DVR... its just a storage device.


RE: Wow
By pattycake0147 on 11/7/2007 12:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
Just hook it up to a HTPC for almost unlimited recording.


RE: Wow
By OrSin on 11/7/2007 12:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
Windows home server sucks as DVR.
It dont support most cards and software is jsut made for the its limited functions. After playing with this I went back to my MCE PC very fast. MS really dropped the ball with not include MCE funtions. Basic Media home is just file server with a few free utilities most of which you can download 3rd party apps that do the same thing.


RE: Wow
By djc208 on 11/7/2007 1:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
SageTV offers a WHS version.

It's a great program that supports lots of tuners, media extenders, transcoding, MP3/Media/Picture libraries, Google and YouTube videos, and even a placeshifter client for accessing your media through just about any internet connected PC. They have good user support and excelent forums and are always fixing/improving the software.

If you prefer the MCE interface they have a free interface pack that offers a similar look and feel (free). There's lots of user created add-ons to extend the functionality, such as commerical skipping, web-based interfaces, and external interfaces. It can even be set up to record from certain cable boxes in HD.

I plan on converting my current Sage HTPC into a WHS setup and use the upcoming HD-Extender on my HDTV. All my hardware will be in the closet with all the wiring and I'll just have a small, quiet STB to stream all my media through, and all the benefits of WHS for my other computers.


RE: Wow
By Samus on 11/7/2007 2:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
Rumor is Beyond TV 5 will support WHS as a storage container as well.


RE: Wow
By fleshconsumed on 11/7/2007 12:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
I usually turn on mine when I come home from work and keep it on. However, with that said I shut it down when I go back to sleep. Like it or not computers cost money to run 24/7, no reason to keep them idling 16 hours a day when nobody is using them anyway.


RE: Wow
By Screwballl on 11/7/2007 2:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
thats what Folding@Home is for... all in the name of science


RE: Wow
By Dribble on 11/7/2007 11:42:50 AM , Rating: 2
Why not use standby?
It takes a few seconds to get going and has everything you wanted already loaded.


RE: Wow
By SavagePotato on 11/7/2007 12:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Really, more exciting and featured prospects are already in use. Like the Linux based splashtop boot on some Asus motherboards.

I have heard people speculate that the bios could evolve and become far more interactive and usable by integrating it into a solution like splashtop, giving you full bios control, network connectivity, and thus superior troubleshooting ability right off the mainboard.

Even still useful as they may be. These integrated solutions are hardly likely to ever replace an OS in my opinion.


RE: Wow
By fleshconsumed on 11/7/2007 12:18:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Really, more exciting and featured prospects are already in use. Like the Linux based splashtop boot on some Asus motherboards.


Actually it's less exciting. If I remember correctly with Asus motherboard you could only use embedded operating system OR windows, but you couldn't run them simultaneously. If I read this announcement correctly, you could use both at the same time. I don't know how it's going to be accomplished, but it would be really cool if that was true.


RE: Wow
By murphyslabrat on 11/7/2007 12:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
No, not replacing the OS, just giving you an alternative for extreme performance or for extreme light-weight. All of the day-to-day stuff is what the OS was intended to handle.


RE: Wow
By SavagePotato on 11/7/2007 12:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
Having a separation of tasks is something that was an idea of Microsoft's during Vista development that ended up a dropped feature.

At one point there were plans to my knowledge to have a "gaming mode" in Vista that would boot the system with very minimal resource use or services simply for enhancing all out speed for gaming or specific software. What happened to those plans is simply a guess, but no doubt it went the way of many planned Vista features that didn't make it in the time frame to actually get the OS out.


RE: Wow
By AlphaVirus on 11/7/2007 12:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
How long does it actually take to boot up though? I am running on Vista with a 3800X2 and 1GB of ram and it only takes a few seconds to boot up, at most 45sec including all apps up and running.

Usually booting up is done when I get home from work in which I dont even sit there and watch the screen.
-Get home
-Press power button
-Go get food, drinks, use restroom, change clothes, etc
-Gaming on PC

quote:
shut down when not in use-it is also a "green" thing to do!

Yeah I think about this too, I try to "help the earth" as much as I can and turning my computer off is simple enough.

Also a computer emits heat which causes your A/C to run longer which causes my electric bill to go up and thats one thing I do not like.

I still want to try this new thing, seems pretty cool.


good idea
By Moishe on 11/7/2007 11:42:00 AM , Rating: 3
I like the idea of getting quick email access or access to a few small items without a bootup. This need happens to me frequently and I hate having to boot just to send an email.

However, this statement:
quote:
Since HyperSpace is written into the BIOS firmware, its code is essentially secret and more secure argues Woody Hobbs...

Is utter foolishness and arrogance. The security through obscurity method doesn't cut it. This is the kind of crap that gave Microsoft such a bad name for a long time. On top of that, if Hyperspace runs open-source programs there is not much preventing someone from using security holes in the program to gain a foothold. In security the weakest link defines the security of the entire platform. If they have no true security and they run OSS programs, then the code is wide open and vulnerable.

This is just another "OS" that will need security patches. Fixing the boot time = GOOD
Giving me another insecure OS to worry about = BAD

Windows is secure and slow to boot, this thing will be the opposite. Frankly I'd rather wait for the boot and be more secure.




RE: good idea
By fic2 on 11/7/2007 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
security through obscurity
is BAD
quote:
OSS programs, then the code is wide open and vulnerable.
is BAD

So, if it is closed source security is bad and if it is open source security is bad?

Nothing like arguing both sides.


RE: good idea
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 12:04:00 PM , Rating: 4
The OP is making the point that security by design is what is needed with a product like this.


Turn in your geek card, please.
By Trippytiger on 11/7/2007 11:34:33 AM , Rating: 2
Warp drives are from Star Trek, while Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon are from Star Wars.




RE: Turn in your geek card, please.
By aos007 on 11/7/2007 4:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently, this is a "hyperspace warp drive" so it's both Star Wars and Star Trek at the same time.


By Scrogneugneu on 11/7/2007 7:34:12 PM , Rating: 2
So Chewie was a Klingon?


By masher2 (blog) on 11/7/2007 11:50:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Since HyperSpace is written into the BIOS firmware, its code is essentially secret and more secure argues Woody Hobbs, Phoenix CEO.
The old "Security Through Obscurity" fallacy makes a proud recurrence...




By James Holden on 11/7/2007 12:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
I can tell you used to read a lot of slashdot :)

There's nothing wrong with security through obscurity, if taken in conjunction with other best practices.

I worked in military research my entire life ... if you could only imagine what protects (or, doesn't protect) our nation's secrets you'd be appalled.

Afterall, isn't every cipher method known just a mathematical obscurity?


By SurJector on 11/7/2007 1:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Afterall, isn't every cipher method known just a mathematical obscurity?

No it's (usually) not. The security of the cipher is not the cipher itself but the key. If someone knows the key, the encrypted message is not safe anymore but the next one encoded with a different key is still safe. The security through obscurity has been used for all long time but it's not safe: if you know that a message is coded with Caesar's cipher, then the key (and the language in which it is written) can be rather easily guessed. If the message is encoded using RSA, you can break the key, but it's as expensive as the receiver of the message want (barring unpublished factorisation methods); and breaking the key will help you for one or a series of message(s), not for all of them (contrary to Caesar's cipher in which knowing the cipher allows you to break every message).

SurJector


Intel, AMD, Intel
By Screwballl on 11/7/2007 2:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
So is this a fault of DT or someone else?

quote:
Phoenix has partnered with both Intel and AMD to take advantage of their processors’ built-in virtualization capabilities. HyperSpace will be compatible with Intel’s Core 2 Duo, vPro, and Centrino processors.


So they havepartnered but the prefered method is Intel? Wheres the mention of Athlon64, Athlon X2, Phenom, Opteron all with (certain models that have) Virutalization built in? Or was Intel only mentioned because of their size?

I just don't see the point mentioning one side without bias.




RE: Intel, AMD, Intel
By sweetsauce on 11/7/2007 6:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
Wow some readers on here nitpick the smallest things to start flame wars, pretty pathetic. WHO CARES!!!


Wow 4.7
RE: Wow 4.7
By TomZ on 11/7/2007 5:39:05 PM , Rating: 2
What is the relevance of these links to the article, besides the obviously wide topic of virtualization?


Already Done?
By noirsoft on 11/7/2007 12:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Dell do something like this already for their notebooks to launch their proprietary media player?

It also seems a lot like what Windows SideShow is suppposed to do, but on a larger scale...




Grammar Nazi.
By ElFenix on 11/7/2007 12:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
"Pared down," not "paired down."

I'm about to be modded down.




Maybe
By Spivonious on 11/7/2007 12:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
Could this be used for that secondary screen idea in laptops? (Can't remember the name, was it Sideshow?)




Cool but any news on EFI?
By tonjohn on 11/7/2007 6:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
This is neat and all but I care more about BIOS's replacement - EFI. All Intel based Apples have EFI and Vista SP1 will offer out-of-the-box EFI support so when will we start to see EFI on PC motherboards?

Companies can add all the neat little things they want to BIOS technology but, at the end of the day, it is an old, outdated tech and EFI finally needs to replace it.




more info from Invisble Things blog
By bnoise on 11/8/2007 7:25:33 AM , Rating: 2
Evolution of the rootkit?
By Rav3n on 11/8/2007 3:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope Bio-Shock 3 commandeers the Hyper OS and installs an application to make sure I bought the game!

Maybe Microsoft can put in some WGA features? That would be money!

Oh, and of course... DD-WRT for the Hyper Bios? Custom bios flashing on the mobo? Anyone?




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