New firmware for Fury X and Nano cards could speed up boot times

Owners of top-end Radeons looking for the fastest possible boot times may have been stymied by those cards' firmware. Although the majority of modern motherboards include UEFI firmwares, the R9 Fury X and R9 Nano still use the legacy VGA option BIOS for maximum compatibility. This choice means slower boot times, since UEFI motherboards have to load a "Compatibility Support Module" for legacy firmware. Video cards can now use the UEFI Graphics Output Protocol for initialization, but graphics cards with UEFI-compatible firmwares don't work with motherboards that rely on the good old BIOS.

Fiji owners who are also boot-time speed freaks can now rejoice, as AMD has released a UEFI-compatible firmware for the R9 Fury X and R9 Nano cards. Since R9 Nanos and R9 Fury Xes from board partners have to stick to AMD's reference design, the company says any Nano or Fury X can be flashed with the new firmware. R9 Fury cards unfortunately get left out, although add-in board vendors such as ASUS and Sapphire have provided their own UEFI firmware for graphics cards in the past. Firmware flashing could potentially render your $650 graphics card unusable, so unless you've noticed really lengthy boot times with a Fury X or Nano installed, it might be a good idea to leave well enough alone. 

Comments closed
    • Krogoth
    • 4 years ago

    >2001+15

    >Worrying about boot times

    Unless you are running some kind of RAID controller with staggered loading on HDDs. The boot time on a modern system using a solid state media as boot device at most is under a minute.

    GPU is least of your worries on boot time.

    • willmore
    • 4 years ago

    Is it not possible to make the firmware of the card support both BIOS and UEFI? If not, that seems like an obvious design flaw of UEFI.

      • biffzinker
      • 4 years ago

      I would hope current/future cards are using a ROM on board with enough space to allow both, and the card offered BIOS/EFI leaving it up to the motherboard to detect which one is used during boot.

        • BurntMyBacon
        • 4 years ago

        If the motherboard can’t tell the video card which BOIS/EFI it needs to use, then what is the point. They could put a switch on the card for manual selection, though.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 4 years ago

      It has to initialize one way or the other. It can’t do both. You’d increase boot time if you could do both anyways (like with compatibility mode). UEFI was designed such that the onus is on the motherboard to support legacy video cards rather than the other way around. This makes sense as the motherboard initializes first and can load a compatibility module when it detects the legacy video card. The video card requires motherboard support to complete initialization, which means it is already locked in to one method or the other by time it would have a chance to check.

      That said, it shouldn’t be too hard to put a switch on the video card and let the owner manually select BOIS/UEFI.

    • Sahrin
    • 4 years ago

    Who is installing a Fury X in a Motherboard with a BIOS?

      • hansmuff
      • 4 years ago

      My motherboard is of the P67A era, running the venerable 2600k. It has UEFI functionality, but at heart the BIOS only supports some UEFI extensions.

      A Fury X paired with an overclocked 2600K isn’t really outlandish.

        • the
        • 4 years ago

        Indeed considering that once overclocking has been factored, the gains from Sandy Bridge -> Ivy Bridge -> Haswell (4770k) were relatively minor. The skull trail Haswell chips (4790k) fair a tad better and the Z97 chips was nice so it got a few people to upgrade form the 2600k. However, it really wasn’t until Sky Lake that there has been a real solid boost make an upgrade worth while.

        I’m one such 2600k owner and I’m patently waiting for Kaby Lake to (hopefully) get some L4 eDRAM and PCIe storage before I replace my 2600k in my gaming rig. While that CPU has stayed the same, it has had a Radeon 6870, Radeon 7970, GTX 770 and GTX 970 all installed in it at some point.

    • DPete27
    • 4 years ago

    I’m confused. Do most GPUs these days run on legacy VGA BIOS or UEFI?

    In other words, is AMD ahead of the game releasing UEFI for these cards or were they behind the eight ball.

      • dme123
      • 4 years ago

      My GTX680 had no UEFI BIOS although one was offered for some boards from the same manufacturer. My GTX980 was UEFI from the box.

      I suspect that AMD are behind the curve on this one. I would imagine they had a UEFI version to offer to OEM buyers though, no way would they tolerate that nonsense.

        • Sahrin
        • 4 years ago

        Saying UEFI BIOS is redundant. BIOS is the old firmware, UEFI is the new one.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago

      I think that most that are sold as separate add in boards, and not the ones OEMs buy to be pre-installed in PCs, would mostly still use the older protocol for compatibility reasons.

      This doesn’t get you a whole lot really. On most motherboards it will be the difference between choosing the fast boot or “ultra fast” boot. The latter being the one where you get no option to go into the BIOS (you have to choose the reboot into UEFI BIOS option in the OS to actually get back into it or have a button on the motherboard) and most of the POST is skipped.

      • nanoflower
      • 4 years ago

      I would think AMD was behind the times since I don’t recall seeing any warning on new GPUs that they only support UEFI. Though most manufacturers likely provide the VGA support on their shipping cards and provide UEFI firmware only through their website.

      • biffzinker
      • 4 years ago

      My Sapphire R9 280 has a button for you to push allowing selection between the legacy, and UEFI firmware.

      • Klimax
      • 4 years ago

      GeForce Titan was IIRC one of the first GPUs to actually require UEFI. It uncovered quite few bugs in UEFI firmwares.

    • DancinJack
    • 4 years ago

    I really hope this wasn’t a significant use of their resources, unless it has a much larger impact than boot times.

      • biffzinker
      • 4 years ago

      Improves overclocking stability supposedly.

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