Award Software International Inc is celebrating the arrival of new numbers from Dataquest Inc and International Data Corp that it hopes will give it a much needed profile boost. The figures show that, not counting its Macintosh and PowerPC business, Award won over 50% of the Intel x86 desktop and server BIOS market last year, putting it significantly ahead of Phoenix Technologies Ltd, its far better known rival. It made some 28 million BIOS shipments out of a total of the 53 million desktop and server systems sold. As Dataquest points out, this puts Award behind only Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp in the extent of its penetration of the x86 world. Why the low profile? According to vice president of marketing Laurent Gharda, it’s because Phoenix captured all the tier one systems vendors, leaving Award with the much harder job of mopping up the second tier vendors and motherboard suppliers. They have the first tier, but we have everybody else, says Gharda. That includes 90 to 95% of the Asian market, including mountains of motherboards that are finding their way back to the US in numerous lesser-known system packages. But Award has been getting a few higher profile deals as well of late, and last month signed up AST Research Inc, which is to use Award’s desktop BIOS in its new Adventure! Product line. It hopes to start winning more systems business, where it can earn a few more pennies per BIOS. The company also works with Cyrix Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc – AMD has an equity investment in Award – and the Award BIOS was used in the reference board for the newly announced AMD K6 chip. At the WinHEC hardware engineering conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week, Award will be boasting that it already has in place Remote PreBoot Access extensions to the BIOS functionality that is a key requirement of Microsoft Corp’s NetPC initiative. Remote preBoot will activate a modem for remote fault-finding when a personal computer goes dead. Award says its software will only need minor tweaks to conform to the Microsoft proposals. It also sees applications for the technology in intelligent terminals and embedded headless devices such as set-top boxes, an area the company is increasingy interested in. Earlier this month, the company created a new division to focus on the embedded systems market, which will customize its BIOS software for the embedded market and handle the APIAccess application programming interface software it acquired recently from Willows Software Inc (CI No 3,114). APIAccess enables Win32 applications to run on real-time operating systems and Unix systems. Award went public in October of last year.