Phoenix plans BIOS-based virtualization platform

— 7:00 AM on November 8, 2007

When Asus introduced its P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP @n motherboard based on Intel's new X38 Express chipset, the motherboard maker added an unusual extra: a tiny Linux distribution with copies of Skype and Firefox embedded straight into the motherboard. According to a report by ComputerWorld, this trend of rolling Linux software in motherboards is just beginning.

As ComputerWorld reports, BIOS maker Phoenix has announced HyperSpace, a Linux-based virtualization platform that's designed to be built into and run from the BIOS. HyperSpace is based on Phoenix's HyperCore hypervisor, and it's essentially a software layer on which open-source software can be loaded and run without interaction with Windows—or any other operating system installed on the host system. Users can reportedly toggle quickly between Windows and HyperSpace, as well.

According to Phoenix CEO Woody Hobbs, HyperSpace apps aren't as resource-hungry as their Windows counterparts, which makes HyperSpace a good solution for increasing notebook battery life. HyperSpace presents advantages from a security standpoint, as well. Hobbs tells ComputerWorld the platform could play host to subscription-based antivirus software, which would be more impervious to tampering than similar, Windows-based tools. "By putting software in a completely unpublished environment, you'll be able to eliminate the blue pills and rootkits," he explains.

Phoenix is already working with PC makers to implement HyperSpace in upcoming products, and Hobbs says notebooks with HyperSpace might hit store shelves as soon as the second quarter of 2008.

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