ASRock UEFI grabs updates over the Internet

Motherboard firmware has come a long way. We used to be confined to text-only interfaces, keyboard input, and flashing via bootable floppy disks. Modern implementations are much better, offering graphical interfaces, mouse support, and integrated flashing utilities that can apply updates stored on USB drives. Now, ASRock has made the flashing process even easier. According to EXPreview, the motherboard maker’s latest UEFI firmware is capable of updating itself over the Internet.

Obviously, you’ll need a working network connection. The firmware reportedly supports DHCP and PPPoE setups. Users can also choose between four different firmware servers based on their geographic location. The whole process, which EXPreview lays out in a series of screenshots, looks pretty simple to me. Unfortunately, there’s no word on which ASRock motherboards will include this functionality. I’d expect any UEFI-equipped model to at least be compatible with the new feature, if not eligible for an eventual upgrade.

Last October, our roadmap for next-generation motherboard firmware called for the integration of Internet-based flashing utilities. Perhaps someone at ASRock was listening. Let’s hope that they’re also working on other items from our wishlist, like a file recovery tool for hosed Windows installations and a system stability test for overclockers—and that other motherboard makers have similar efforts underway.

Comments closed
    • d0g_p00p
    • 7 years ago

    I just picked up a z77 Extreme4 and it has this feature. Works perfect.

    • eloj
    • 7 years ago

    I think integrating OS specific features, such as some sort of “Windows File Recovery” into the “BIOS” is a bad idea. If I grab a board for a server I don’t want to pay for that crap.

    • DPete27
    • 7 years ago

    My z77 pro4-m has this option in the uefi but I’ve yet to get it to work

    • pikaporeon
    • 7 years ago

    Still waiting on Windows for UEFI

    • Game_boy
    • 7 years ago

    Anything internet connected will have vulnerabilities and require constant patching, no matter how small the benefit is.

    Adobe Reader supporting some little-used hyperlink features caused that.
    MS Office’s Online Help caused this. At least, Help is all I ever saw of the online part but it must have hundreds of patches related to the internet by now.
    Windows 98’s Active Desktop caused no end of problems.
    Consoles need constant firmware updates just for security since this gen.

    I know UEFI is shiny, but I’d rather have a simple black and white boot menu and options that is rock solid and never changed. If Windows or Linux don’t turn on fast enough to perform the functions of UEFI it is those that need changed.

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      uefi isn’t shiny, it just enables shiny interfaces easily, you could do very fancy pre-boot environment without uefi.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      UEFI addresses many of the known shortcomings of BIOS and it doesn’t require an internet access to update nor a GUI to use.

      The whole GUI is just motherboard crowd catering towards the eye-candy crowd.

      IHMO, the two key points for UEFI are native GPT support (if you want to boot off partitons greater than 2TiB) and UEFI secure boot (big win for enterprise market).

    • JohnC
    • 7 years ago

    Probably won’t work for people (like me) who uses WiFi network adapters…

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Man, there are so many ways for this to go wrong. You know what they say…

    The more you overtake the plumbing…

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Exactly, firmware with internet connectivity:

      DO NOT WANT

    • Draxo
    • 7 years ago

    This is where we can test the kill switch.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      I can’t see any way this could be negatively used or compromised by malware. /sarcasm.

    • ew
    • 7 years ago

    FWIW there have been graphical PC BIOS implantations with mouse support for over a decade.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      BIOS implantations?

        • ew
        • 7 years ago

        Arg, that’s the second one of these in as many weeks. My brain is officially rotting.

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          Maybe you could get your brain augmented with a BIOS implant.

          I would turn down the internet connectivity option, though. That’s just asking for trouble.

        • Firestarter
        • 7 years ago

        I’d like a BIOS implant

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Implantations?

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      I have an old pentium 3 board (840) that has mouse support and looks like windows. Runs my old games pretty good.
      [url<]http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/840/?iid=PCG+devleftnav&[/url<]

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        I’ll one-up you: we had a 486 that had a GUI with mouse support and icons. It was definitely sharper than Windows 3.1, though I believe it was (quite slowly) running Windows 95 at the time.

          • bthylafh
          • 7 years ago

          I saw a few old Craphard Hells with mousey GUI BIOSes in the mid ’90s. They simply knew their market.

    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    5+ years ago, Asrock used to be the Hyundai/Kia of the mobo manufacturers – budget boards with very little in the way of upper end technology or gadgets.
    Now, just like Hyundai/Kia, they have dome a complete about-face and have become some buyers first choice when looking for a quality board at a good price.

    I’m still rocking an Asrock Dual SATAII 939 board with an AM2 upgrade riser card – back when they only offered oddball boards for someone looking to prolong the inevitable upgrade cycle.

      • dmjifn
      • 7 years ago

      Eh… you know they’re originally an offshoot of ASUS, right?
      Yeah, they’re cheap and a bit “that’ll do”, but they had decent genes. I’m not sure it’s exactly an about face as much as successfully leveraging their heritage.

      • Washer
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve always had good success with ASRock motherboards. I’ve now owned four of their motherboards and using two at home currently.

      My first was a s754 board paired with an A64 2800+. Bought it because I had an AGP graphics card at the time but planed on upgrading to PCIe for the next card (and still keeping my CPU). Worked wonderfully, moved from a 9700 Pro AGP card to a PCIe GeForce 6800GT. Board was great besides the inability to OC.

      Next was a LGA775 board for my new C2D E6300. The ASRock board supported both DDR and DDR2. I brought over the DDR from the above A64 system and as well my 6800GT. Eventually moved to DDR2 on the board and it worked wonderfully.

      I now have an mATX ASRock for my main computer based on the Z77 chipset and a mITX board based on Z68 that’s being used as a VM lab/file server. I might find another home for the mITX board as the CPU (2500K) is missing some features I want in a lab system (actually considering an AMD rig because of that). Regardless, I’ve clearly had good success with my ASRock boards. No problems, worked as well as any Asus or Gigabyte board I’ve owned over that time frame.

    • Ryu Connor
    • 7 years ago

    I hope ASRock is digitally signing their firmware.

      • Philldoe
      • 7 years ago

      I do too. I just bought a new ASRock mobo 🙁

      • Washer
      • 7 years ago

      It would be concerning but I’m not too worried if they don’t. Chances of me using this features on my ASRock boards (if offered) is very slim.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Not like signing really means much lately.

      There are plenty of examples of signed malware, some of which had certs from other far east vendors that ship in just about every desktop already. (cough realtek cough) Heck, take a look at the CAs your browser trusts, “honest achmed’s used cars and certificates” indeed.

      Microsoft can’t even keep all its keys proper (md5 root cert = sigh) do you really expect all those small fry hardware outfits to be secure? They already have a hard enough time writing stable drivers…

        • Ryu Connor
        • 7 years ago

        Two of your examples are describing Stuxnet and Flame. I’m not saying you’re wrong mind you, I’m just saying you’re examples are pretty high end. You’re using two vectors designed by two nation states for cyberwarfare.

        PKI is not a magic bullet, but it’s better than nothing at all. It’s not as if firmware vulnerabilities haven’t been revealed before.

        [url<]http://arstechnica.com/business/2011/11/hp-printers-can-be-remotely-controlled-and-set-on-fire-researchers-claim/[/url<] A lack of digital signature verification was considered one of the failings of the firmware update mechanism.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      >implying that there aren’t already backdoors within the firmware

      >implying that backdoors didn’t exist before UEFI

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