General Software Customizes BIOS for Windows-based HLX Hobart Scale

General Software, Inc. has been selected by Hobart to help design a customized BIOS for the Windows-based HLX Hobart scale used by grocery stores to reduce “shrink” and increase profits within deli and produce departments. By partnering with General Software, Hobart gained a huge time-to-market advantage, shaving off four months from a 14 month-long development phase.

Development of the HLX scale required Hobart to move from their existing proprietary embedded platform to a standard PC platform using an AMD LX 800 processor. With time-to-market a pressing issue, Hobart turned to General Software for help customizing a BIOS to configure the silicon components at start up; enable quick boot; and when running in MS memory, detect and prevent the Windows operating systems from locking up, increasing the reliability and availability of Hobart’s system. General Software also provided the BIOS development tools along with training and technical support.

The HLX, which is as easy-to-use as a Windows-based personal computer, lets the operator efficiently and accurately transact sales and create merchandising promotions; it features automatic database synchronization with other department scales for shorter setups and increased data accuracy.

Moreover, the operating system for the scale must handle nightly updates, for example pricing information. In the event of an operating system crash, the customized BIOS will ensure that the correct pricing is available upon restart.

As a part of its special role in crafting a unique firmware solution for Hobart, General Software also helped design a security layer that prevents rogue software from being substituted for operating system components, adding surety and trust to the increased availability. This security layer also provides protection against viruses, particularly if an employee attempted to install rogue software from home or another remote location.

The added security layer was a key development requirement for the HLX scale as it is integrated into the store(s) network. The potential for non-approved software and games to be added onto an unsecured scale’s operating system is a real threat and a huge concern for grocery store owners.

“This was our first Windows-based scale using higher-end hardware, requiring a customized BIOS that would enable us to move from an embedded platform to a PC-based platform. Just as important, it was imperative that this design provide us with the flexibility to make modifications to the product moving forward,” said Dave Miller, lead engineer, Hobart. “For example, we worked with General Software on additional security options that can be turned on as our user base grows with newer models of the HLX scale,” continued Miller.

General also provided Hobart with development support and engineering services for built-in wireless functionality and capabilities.

“Before turning to General Software, Hobart had first looked at buying a low-cost solution from a COTS supplier. They quickly realized that in order to create an elegant and custom-tailored design that would deliver the high-quality product their customers expect, they would need to develop their own board and BIOS,” said Steve Jones, General Software CTO. “General Software provided Hobart with code and a cohesive solution that is well documented and easy to modify. Additionally, our Engineering Services showcase our willingness to jump in and provide detailed advice and analysis. There are times when support for a complex or unique feature is required, or when there is a deadline and it becomes clear that the most efficient way to resolve a particular issue quickly is for General Software to take it on directly and resolve it in-house with the most experienced BIOS engineers,” continued Jones.

General Software recently unveiled its flagship StrongFrame(TM) Technology, which enables targeted cores to be created for a wide range of applications. Unlike other firmware offerings, which have a centralized proprietary core and architectural modules for CPUs, chipsets, and other components underneath it, StrongFrame(TM) Technology allows the core itself to be a pluggable module, enabling many cores to be supported within the same framework.

StrongFrame(TM) Technology then leverages proprietary programming of CPUs, chipsets, SIOs, whole boards, and other building blocks across all General Software’s specialized cores. The result is that the same set of silicon programming modules can be used across many unique applications.

With StrongFrame(TM) Technology, OEMs can quickly produce and differentiate motherboards for multiple markets, saving money and time otherwise spent on having to independently build firmware for these markets.

About Hobart
Hobart is the world leader in commercial food equipment and service for the foodservice and food retail industries. Hobart manufactures products for warewashing and waste handling; food preparation; baking; cooking; weighing, wrapping and labeling systems; and refrigeration. Hobart equipment is supported by a national network of nearly 1,700 factory-trained service technicians and 200 locations across the United States.

About General Software, Inc.
General Software provides firmware for a wide range of applications including Ultra-Mobile PCs, industrial PCs, targeted PCs, differentiated mainboards, telecom/datacom equipment, servers, blades, and embedded devices including medical, gaming, kiosks, point-of-sale, DVR, and commercial and military avionics. Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) choose the General Software® brand for the domain expertise that gets customers to market quickly, reduces project risks and enables market differentiation for highly successful products. For more information about General Software, e-mail or call us at 800.850.5755 or 425.576.8300.