Intel is working to provide the Linux kernel with the ability to allow BIOS updates without a reboot.
Certain compute systems require high Service Level Agreements (SLAs) where fewer system reboot firmware updates are required for deploying firmware changes to address bug fixes, security updates, and to debug and root cause issues. Ever since BIOS updates became possible, the process required rebooting the PC.
Intel is now changing that, thanks to a new part of the ACPI specification called Platform Firmware Runtime Update and Telemetry (PFRUT). This allows for firmware updates to a PC’s BIOS or UEFI without forcing a reboot. The idea is to reduce downtime, especially for servers that should ideally remain available 100 percent of the time.
Intel’s been working on PFRUT for some time, previously under the moniker “Seamless Update.”
So, Linux kernel 5.16 is now available, and Intel aims to merge this new addition with the upcoming Linux kernel 5.17 stable release. Right now, the driver update is in the “linux-next” branch.
pfr_update driver is set to be introduced in Linux kernel 5.17. Sources say it appears to be designed for system firmware updates in cases of critical bugs or security issues, allowing server administrators to patch their hardware without downtime. The operating system will be responsible for executing the entire update process.
PFRUT should give systems the advantage of not requiring a system restart when you update the BIOS. This feature will be very useful in server deployments where downtime can hinder business operations.
We can’t fail to mention that one of the biggest surprises to come along with PFRUT, is that it will only be available for Linux. That said, the intent of this is for servers, so it remains to be seen if this functionality will come to desktop PCs or Windows.