AMD openSIL Planned to Replace AGESA Firmware in Client and Server in 2026by Gavin Bonshor on May 5, 2023 5:15 PM EST
At a recent OCP Regional Summit held in Prague, AMD shared its plans to replace its AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture (AGESA) firmware with an open-source alternative called Open-Source Silicon Initialization Library (openSIL). The new firmware would be ready for production use in 2026, following a multi-year, four phase development cycle.
Firmware is a crucial component for modern computer systems, and on modern AMD systems, that critical code blob is AGESA. Among other things, AGESA is responsible for initializing several sub-systems of the platform, including processor cores, chipset, and memory; and it is frequently updated to support new hardware and resolve bugs.
But for all the utility that firmware brings, it can also be a weak point in a system via vulnerable to cyber attacks. So as part of their new firmware initiative, AMD has proposed making the development, architecture, and validation of the Silicon Initialization Firmware open-source to enhance security. AMD has a history of supporting open-source solutions for software and drivers, and openSIL is designed to be lightweight, simple, transparent, and secure and can be scaled easily.
As initially reported on by Phoronix, openSIL is not intended to replace the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) but rather to be integrated with other host firmware such as coreboot, reboot, and FortiBIOS. It is written in standard industry language, allowing vendors to statically link it to the host firmware and bypass any host firmware protocols.
AMD is presently testing openSIL in the Proof-of-Concept (POC) phase, and it is currently compatible with AMD's 4th-generation EPYC (Genoa) processors and related platforms. The 5th-generation EPYC (Turin) processors will also be included in the POC phase. AMD intends to make openSIL the default choice for the 6th-generation EPYC series by 2026, and AGESA will be phased out.
While AMD admits that openSIL is still a work in progress, it is very close to parity with AGESA. However, since openSIL won't be ready until 2026 and AMD's most recent roadmap shows Zen 5 for 2024, it may take until Zen 6 or even Zen 7 before seeing a finished product. AMD has not released a projected roadmap for openSIL on the client side, but it will eventually replace AGESA on all AMD products.