Device VM, a startup based in Silicon Valley, has recently released a tiny piece of software that is integrated with a PC's motherboard. The software gives users the option to boot either Windows or a faster, less-complex linux based operating system "SplashTop".
SplashTop users can start surfing the Web or watching a DVD in less than 20 seconds, and, in some cases, in less than five. Splashtop is embedded in the motherboards BIOS, so it starts before the operating system is up and running. The user will see a simple menu screen offering a handful of options, including launching the Firefox Web browser, a media player, Skype, or an instant-messaging program, or allowing Windows to boot.
The applications are stored in a flash-memory chip on the motherboard, so they can be quickly accessed--even if the hard drive fails. And since the software is linux based it is inherently safer than surfing the web with a slimmed down version of windows. The threat of viruses or hacking would be minimal.
Splashtop is currently available on motherboards from Asus. David Speiser, director of business development at DeviceVM said, "within the next couple of months, desktops and laptops with Splashtop-enabled hardware will be available to consumers."
DeviceVM is not the only company looking to cut boot times. BIOS company Phoenix Technologies announced a technology called HyperSpace, which is expected to be available in laptops in the second half of this year. And Intel is developing both hardware and software that will shorten boot times. They are currently shipping Intel Turbo Memory, which boots Windows faster by caching data in flash memory instead of on the hard drive.