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Slow boot discussion (X99)

Korth
Level 14
(quotes moved from Arne goes mainstream - where the discussion was "wrecking" the thread, lol.)

Korth wrote:
Note to ASUS: do something about excessive startup/shutdown times on whatever flagship X299 mobo you launch, lol. It's pretty shameful to see a $500 laptop hit the desktop almost a full minute before a $500 mobo in a $5000 desktop catches up.

Raja@ASUS wrote:
Not much one can do when there are so many bells and whistles and startup routines that are mandatory for the platform to function correctly. A laptop is an order of magnitude simpler as a device.

Korth wrote:
What you say is true, and I do understand why.

It just seems like some years ago there was huge emphasis on fast startup times, CPU and chipset and BIOS and OS and drivers (and even some technical standards) all designed to get things up and running ASAP. And today you can cold-boot a lightweight PC (with a fast SSD and basically no other hardware) to desktop in less than ten seconds, almost like the "instant on" behaviour on a smartphone/tablet (which is not technically "powered off" anyhow).

I'd just think a little more focus on this woefully-neglected area might yield good results. Sure we can always "quick boot" past the memory polling and half the other usual POST stuff. There will always be essential hardware initializations for mobo-embedded hardware, gotta get all the critical Q-Codes outta the way.
But the boot process is then still entirely linear, kinda dumb in this day and age of multicore everything. There must be a point where boot processes can then proceed in parallel, especially because of some really "slow" things (like network, storage, and USB enumerations) which need to all be completed but which don't need to be completed in any particular order - running several or all of these things simultaneously (while perhaps also completing some linear boot things like IRQ allocations) could easily chop boot times down (especially when things timeout). The mobo firmware needs to only poll or monitor all "unfinished" tasks until all hardware and firmware reports ready to go. Maybe little or nothing can be done about slowness after a WinOS takes over, but not everybody runs Windows.

Imagine a BIOS which offers advanced boot options. Far more than just pick your boot drive. Pick which nonessential hardware boots at all. When, and in what order. With user-specified timeouts and priorities. Such a shame to see boot time hang for 30 seconds because the network handshake isn't friendly enough or because some troublesome USB device decides to misbehave or because Intel's latest-and-greatest storage drivers are designed to methodically plod and crawl even when provided a world-class formula one racetrack.

Maybe you can only trim boot down by about 5 seconds. Maybe not at all. But I think some sort of "ROG Boot Acceleration" technology which can slam an X299 from freezer to desktop four times faster than the competition is something that would attract serious attention. True, a stable and properly configured system doesn't need to boot/reboot itself more than a few times per day. But this is the sort of innovation everyone can enjoy, and it would be especially happy for overclockers who tend to spend so much time rebooting and rebooting as they tweak and test in small increments towards their maximum performance thresholds, lol.

It's the one (glaring) area ... aside from price ... where everyman "mainstream" computing devices are truly superior.

Raja@ASUS wrote:
I think this is an issue of external perception. The amount of requests that fly in for BOOT times always puts focus on this area. The issue is mainly people not understanding how complex a high-performance platform is to set up for operation. There are so many things that require resets and retraining that there's not much one can do without upsetting the balance elsewhere.

There's one mantra I do like when people have an unnatural preoccupation with BOOT time, and that's use suspend to RAM. Quick way back to the desktop if you're losing money during BOOT time...

Again, thanx for your response, Raja.

You're saying a "simpler" platform boots faster while the "complex" platform boots slower - because obviously the complex platform has many more complex tasks to process at startup - but it's just not realistic to provide user more options about which specific complexities are (and are not) supported at boot time?

Yes, we can skip things like memory POST, the "Quick Start" BIOS setting is wonderful. We can disable legacy USB support, PCIe slots, onboard network, onboard audio, etc ... although I'm not convinced this stuff has much impact on startups (unless they fail/timeout).

The way to clarify "issues of external perception" is to reveal internal perceptions, lol. Why, for example, can't a multicore processor be used to boot multiple devices in parallel when their (arbitrary and proven) boot order is non-sequential?

Suspend to RAM, sleep, hibernate, and other low-power states cannot cold-boot or warm-boot a system. They're of little use for pushing towards hard overclocks.

It seems I do have an unnatural preoccupation with boot time, lol. The optimist sees the glass is half full, the pessimist sees the glass is half-empty, the engineer sees the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. Excessively long/slow boots may or may not be a real issue, but surely the engineers can't continue to deprioritize/ignore it forever? ROG mobos proudly boast all sorts of innovative tech, always trying to push specs farther and faster, always trying to outclock (and outsell) the competition, no detail is ignored ... so why ignore this one?
"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams

[/Korth]
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Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Not sure they are ignoring it are they? Wasn't last RV10E BIOS an improved boot time BIOS?

I just see it as McDonalds vs Epicure...sure McDs serves you fast but it's not the same thing as what they are serving at Epicure...and that takes time

But you're right....you do have an unnatural preoccupation LOL 😉

Korth
Level 14
It's not perfect until it's perfect, lol. Brilliant engineering is about challenging assumptions and defining new paradigms. Maybe a 1-second boot time will never be physically achievable - imagine how revolutionary it would be to do away with "sleep/hibernate" nonsense altogether! - but trying to overcome the impossible can result in narrowing the gap, and again, who wouldn't want 10-second X99 boot times?

More to the point, I am (sometimes) a platform engineer who designs/prototypes complex systems. Never anything as complex as a true x86/x64 PC. But complex enough that I think I see possible methods to use "ready" hardware to speed up "unready" hardware ... and I wonder if my idea is simply ludicrous (bona-fide reason it's never been done) or if it's simply just not an aspect of the platform anyone bothers to take a more serious look at improving.
"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams

[/Korth]

Korth wrote:
Maybe a 1-second boot time will never be physically achievable - imagine how revolutionary it would be to do away with "sleep/hibernate" nonsense altogether!


I think we may come to a point where there is no difference. Once non-volatile memory tech catches up there will be no need to "boot" as your session will start from the same state as the last.
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station…

Brighttail
Level 11
If you simply look at the CODES on the motherboard as it boots, each code is a separate test or something loading up from what I understand. I also don't believe that a multi-core CPU has the capability to be using those cores to the extent you want outside the Windows environment while booting up. When you press start that is all the BIOS. Once your screen comes on and Windows starts loading, for me that process is under 10 seconds which I think is pretty good. It is the 10 seconds before the screen comes up that I think you are having issues with. I have to say Raja pretty much nailed it saying that more bells n whistles requires a longer time to boot. The things you can turn off to keep them from being checked/loaded will help.

I have a ROG laptop without NVME m.2 but an ACHI Samsung sm951. It has a lot less when it comes to bells n whistles and from the moment I hit power to the time I'm in windows is right 10-11 seconds. Compared to the x99 R5E10 board, my ROG g751 is a kitten when it comes to available features.

Just sayin'.
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I think this is an area where *intels optane technology can really shine.

Korth
Level 14
@Brighttail

You may be correct about multicore CPUs on PCs. PC architecture has evolved into a very formal and complex mess, and I think nobody dares to tamper with what's proven to work because they fear compatibility (with something, somewhere) will be broken.

I've worked with dual-core and quad-core ARM parts which (supposedly) can do this, after the critical power/memory/hardware checks the bootloader starts running embedded firmware ("BIOS") in the primary core ("CPU"), and the next task is to start initializing secondary cores (sub-processing units, "SPUs") during boot ... each additional SPU that comes online is tasked with booting another SPU, freeing up another "idle" SPU to boot some other dedicated hardware/firmware device.

We don't actually do things this way in our platforms, but it is technically an option.

My (not expert) understanding of detailed PC hardware/firmware suggests that if this is possible with a multicore PC CPU then it could chop boot times down by a significant margin.
"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams

[/Korth]

Raja
Level 13
As I said earlier, suspend to DRAM is a cool option for logical minds (and it works with a well-tuned overclock)... I guess that doesn’t apply here, so we move to rule two: People with unnatural preoccupations are best left alone. 😄

Raja@ASUS wrote:
As I said earlier, suspend to DRAM is a cool option for logical minds (and it works with a well-tuned overclock)... I guess that doesn’t apply here, so we move to rule two: People with unnatural preoccupations are best left alone. 😄


Assuming X299 will fully support all aspects of Intel's Optane technology, one of the key benefits I see for desktop enthusiasts would be a combination of suspend to DRAM with Hibernation.

The functionality of Hibernation with almost the speed of suspend to DRAM. With power still present, it would act completely like suspend to DRAM. On the flip side, since 3D XPoint is solid state, when the power is disrupted for any reason it would act like Hibernation. Of course, the system would still need to run its POST in this scenario, but once that is done you're back to the desktop just as you had it before powering off.

Silent_Scone
Super Moderator
Yes, we can skip things like memory POST, the "Quick Start" BIOS setting is wonderful. We can disable legacy USB support, PCIe slots, onboard network, onboard audio, etc ... although I'm not convinced this stuff has much impact on startups (unless they fail/timeout).


I think this basically says enough, and goes back to the laptop tangent. If these things are really that important to you then you can suspend the system as Raja has mentioned or buy a motherboard sporting the least functionality as possible.

To me, (as much as I hate using car analogies) this is like buying a luxury sedan, only to strip out all of the electronics, sound deadening and interior just so you can arrive to work 3 minutes faster.

Or, you can suspend to DRAM. You'd be much better off using this, and making sure your overclock is stable so that the system can resume as you'd like.
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