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Open Source Coreboot BIOS Ported to MSI Z690-A Motherboard

MSI Z690-A Pro WiFi DDR4
(Image credit: MSI)

According to Phoronix, firmware developer 3MDEB has recently implemented Coreboot support -- with the help of Dasharo, to MSI's Z690-A Pro WiFi DDR4 motherboard. Coreboot is a replacement for factory UEFI's and BIOS' which promises to be a faster, more flexible, and more secure firmware for your motherboard or laptop. 

This added support by 3MDEB represents one of the incredibly few times Coreboot has come to a completely modern platform, especially on a desktop motherboard. It is also the first publicly available port of Coreboot to a mainstream Alder Lake-supported motherboard.

For the uninitiated, Coreboot is an open-source firmware platform aimed at providing systems with a lighter weight and more feature-rich UEFI/BIOS than the ones provided by OEMs. Thanks to its open-source nature, updates, and improvements to Coreboot can be worked on by a multitude of developers and can be constant. 

As such, Coreboot is promised to be a more modern and streamlined UEFI/BIOS compared to what OEMs can deliver right now.

For end-users, one of Coreboot's biggest promised features is a significantly faster boot-up times compared to OEM UEFI/BIOS, up to 70%. Making the boot-up time from power button press to the beginning of an OS startup almost non-existent. Other features include security improvements, a nearly unbrickable update process, and much more.

But in order for Coreboot to work, it needs a firmware distribution to work from. That's where Dasharo comes in, Dasharo is a company whose expertise is in making firmware compatible with certain platforms. Dasharo will integrate Coreboot's firmware, additional features, and platform support for either Intel FPS or AMD AGESA into a package that can be installed onto a system. 3mdeb's job has been to port this firmware distribution to the Z690-A Pro WiFi in particular and makes sure it's fully functional.

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For now, open-source BIOS is still in its preliminary phase, but according to a Tweet by Dasharo, a binary release will be coming soon with display, USB, and UEFI boot support.

Based on Coreboot's functionality, we hope this port to the MSI Z690-A Pro WiFi offers big improvements to security and performance over MSI's standard UEFI. However, user discretion is advised if you want to take a crack at this BIOS as it is still an unofficial port that can be prone to bugs not seen on MSI's official firmware.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • artk2219
    All those 100, 200, and 300 series Intel boards are crying out for support in order to enable skylake, kayby lake, and coffee lake to easily run on them all, as should have been the case from the get go.
    Reply
  • miczyg
    NOTE:
    lease visit the platform FAQ before proceeding with installing Dasharo: https://docs.dasharo.com/variants/msi_z690/overview/The chance to brick the system is not zero and the USB FlashBIOS for recovery does NOT yet work if you installed Dasharo!

    Also, the current memory compatibility list consists of 1 tested module, see Memory Compatibility section.

    Be sure to check out the known issues listed on the Release section. We are still working on PCIe Gen5 GPU slot support. Currently, this slot is not operational so you need a CPU with graphics (anything non-F in the CPU name).
    Reply