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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An End Of An Era

Computer technology as advanced as far as it can go with the current chip technology. The amazing thing is that although the chips has reached maximum speed and capabilities, all that can be done now is make them smaller for cellphones, tablets and other uses. However, in a few short years a new breed of computers will start to appear - quantum computers that uses laser technology and a cube styled chip that is way more powerful than even IBM's Watson.

 The laptops currently available marks the end of the era when end users were allowed to modify the machine in any way they liked. All computers sold since Windows 8 comes with Secure Boot installed (all laptops have Secure Boot enabled). Because of this, any changes to the physical hardware will result in the computer becoming locked up by Secure Boot. Once this happens, it becomes bricked.

The way Secure Boot works is very simple - everything except the laptop battery has a unique certificate that is stored in the modern version of the BIOS, called UEFI. Whenever any certificate does not match the UEFI list, booting up of the computer is halted. Even if the part with the unlisted certificate is removed the computer will continued to be bricked. Because of this, laptops are now designed to prevent changing the RAM, hard drive, sound card, network cards or video cards.

During the summer I learned that Secure Boot may be placed in setup mode where the computer operator may delete any certificate or add their own certificates. The trick is knowing which "F#" key to press repeatedly during the boot-up process.