First Supplement to Original Invention Entitled:
Computer BIOS Enhancements to Create and Load
Memory-Resident File Systems
for High-Speed System and Application Software
Exhibit “A” in Provisional Application
to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S., Inventor
All Rights Reserved without Prejudice
May 3, 2008 A.D.
Inventor has previously filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a Provisional Application to patent an original invention entitled “Computer BIOS Enhancements to Create and Load Memory-Resident File Systems for High-Speed System and Application Software.”
This “First Supplement” is Inventor’s separate Provisional Application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to patent an important enhancement to that original invention.
First-Time Installation of Operating Systems
The original Application made a key assumption concerning the installation status of popular computer operating systems such as Microsoft’s Windows XP/Pro. The original invention assumed that such an operating system (“OS”) had already been installed onto a rotating disk drive, and that a “drive image” file had already been created of the rotating disk partition onto which that OS was installed.
Specifically, that key step was described as follows in the Inventor’s Provisional Application to patent the original invention:
(ii) restore to that [ramdisk] partition a drive image that presently stores a stable set of XP system software previously installed onto a conventional rotating disk drive
This First Supplement to that original invention now expands upon available options by enhancing a BIOS to create a memory-resident file system before first-time OS installation is commenced. In the explanation that now follows, the Microsoft Windows Setup procedure is used for illustration purposes, and because Microsoft Windows XP/Pro is such a highly developed, notably stable and widely used OS.
Computer users who already have experience running Windows Setup will be thoroughly familiar with the manner in which that software requires a system partition to be created and formatted with the “C:” drive letter, before any files can be written to that partition.
This First Supplement dovetails with that procedure by adding BIOS support to create and format a C: system partition in random access memory (“RAM”) before Windows Setup is launched the very first time.
The sequence of OS installation, and subsequent routine startup and restart, can now be briefly summarized in the following steps:
(1) enhance the BIOS to perform at least 5 special functions not currently performed by the vast majority of BIOS software installed on existing PCs throughout the world:
(a) immediately after initial assembly of a new computer, format a user-defined subset of RAM as a standard file system partition e.g. NTFS, beginning at a physical memory address equal to zero, or greater than zero;
(b) update all necessary BIOS settings, data and logic so as to recognize this newly formatted ramdisk partition as one which can be used to install the OS the very first time, or re-install the OS after total shutdown;
(c) install the OS, e.g. using Windows Setup, by writing all necessary system files to this newly formatted ramdisk partition created at step (a) above;
(d) update all necessary BIOS settings, data and logic so as to recognize this newly loaded ramdisk partition as one which can be used routinely to boot and re-boot the OS into standard operating mode e.g. via Restart;
(e) add support in the BIOS to restore an available drive image file, in the event that the computer is shutdown completely and the contents of volatile RAM are lost (see (b) above and original invention for details).
The real beauty of this First Supplement, if implemented ideally, is that an installation program like Windows Setup need not know any of the underlying BIOS details in order to run to successful completion.
When the Windows Setup CD-ROM is inserted and launched the very first time, it should detect the newly created ramdisk like any other disk drive, and present it to the user as one among other available targets for the C: system partition. Such integration should be seamless.
Upon designating the ramdisk as the C: system partition, Windows Setup then writes all appropriate system files to that partition, in the very same manner in which the C: partition on a rotating disk drive is loaded during Windows Setup execution. Thereafter, all OS Restarts will simply boot from the system partition hosted by that ramdisk.
One of the first BIOS enhancements that can be anticipated with some foresight, confidence and precision is a BIOS “Menu Option” which permits the user to Format RAM. Invoking that Menu Option would then initiate something very much like the following dialog with the user:
BIOS Menu Option: “Format RAM” [selected by user]
Number of Ramdisks to Format:
Starting Address of Ramdisk [n]:
Size of Partition [n] (bytes):
Name of Partition [n] (15 bytes max):
After completing a dialog that is similar or identical to the above, this BIOS Menu Option formats each ramdisk partition, saves essential attributes in a list of storage device names in the BIOS settings, and then it presents that list to the Windows Setup program as existing partitions that are available to store and host all required OS files.
During execution of the current version of Microsoft Windows Setup, for example, the user typically sees the following textual information displayed on the computer’s monitor:
Windows XP Professional Setup
The following list shows the existing partitions on this computer. [underlined emphasis added]
To set up Windows XP on the selected item, press ENTER.
Then, after selecting one of these storage devices from the full list of storage devices it detects, Windows Setup assigns drive letter C: to the ramdisk selected by the user, and then it proceeds to write OS files directly to that ramdisk storage partition, to which drive letter C: was assigned by Windows Setup (the host ramdisk partition), or designated as such by another OS installation procedure.
Further to elaborate this concept, with all modern motherboards an existing BIOS option is invoked to modify “Boot Settings”. That Menu Option presents a list of storage devices and the sub-option “Boot Device Priority”. The latter permits the user to choose the storage devices that will be the “1st Boot Device”, “2nd Boot Device” and so on.
Therefore, the required BIOS enhancements must add the selected ramdisk to the list of available “Boot Devices”, and permit the user to give first priority to the selected ramdisk -- specifically by choosing it to function as the “1st Boot Device” after Windows Setup (or other OS installation) has executed successfully to completion.
Because OS files must be read initially from an optical disc drive, users who have successfully run Windows Setup are already quite familiar with the need to modify Boot Device Priority after Windows Setup has finished successfully. The optical disc drive is no longer needed as the “1st Boot Device” because that OS can then boot from C:.
Another technical detail that should be implemented seamlessly is the opportunity to load a custom device driver during Windows Setup by invoking the existing “F6” option (or similar feature for another OS).
The F6 option is most often invoked to load a custom device driver that is required to perform faster input/output operations with a custom controller that is either installed on-board the motherboard, or added by inserting a third-party controller into an available PCI, PCI-X or PCI-E expansion slot, e.g. to control RAID storage arrays.
When Windows Setup is instructed to load OS files into a ramdisk selected as the C: system partition, the F6 option presents a perfect opportunity for a custom device driver to be loaded, so as to permit standard I/O operations with that ramdisk to complete transparently to all other executing Windows Setup tasks. If implemented correctly, this custom device driver will completely eliminate the need to make any changes whatsoever to Windows Setup logic –- a key objective here.
Similarly, current market leaders like ASUS have recently begun manufacturing motherboards, e.g. ASUS model P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP, which host a custom “flash” drive or Option ROM (Read-Only Memory) where a modified version of the Linux OS is stored. This feature enables those ASUS motherboards to boot quickly into this Linux environment, thus permitting the user to do routine tasks, like checking Web email and browsing the Internet, without requiring the computer to boot fully into Windows XP mode.
Accordingly, this First Supplement to the Original Invention covers all features discussed above, including but not limited to:
developing and implementing the required BIOS Menu Option(s);
developing and implementing ramdisk device drivers to elect “F6” during execution of Windows Setup or other OS installation;
developing and implementing enhancements to executable codes stored in flash drives and “Option ROMs” that may be invoked to:
format one or more ramdisks; and/or,
modify the requisite BIOS settings, in a manner similar to “flashing” BIOS updates (e.g. see ASUS UPDATE), in order to achieve seamless system restarts using the OS files already stored in the ramdisk assigned drive letter C:; and,
developing and implementing high-level computer programs that may also be invoked from the Windows XP or other OS environment to:
format one or more ramdisks; and/or,
modify the requisite BIOS settings, likewise in a manner similar to “flashing” BIOS updates (e.g. ASUS UPDATE), to achieve seamless system restarts using the OS files already stored in the ramdisk assigned drive letter C:.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
/s/ Paul A. Mitchell, Inventor and
Systems Development Consultant
All Rights Reserved without Prejudice