bare metal

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bare metal

(1)
New computer hardware, unadorned with such snares and delusions as an operating system, an HLL, or even assembler. Commonly used in the phrase "programming on the bare metal", which refers to the arduous work of bit bashing needed to create these basic tools for a new computer. Real bare-metal programming involves things like building boot PROMs and BIOS chips, implementing basic monitors used to test device drivers, and writing the assemblers that will be used to write the compiler back ends that will give the new computer a real development environment.

bare metal

(2)
"Programming on the bare metal" is also used to describe a style of hand-hacking that relies on bit-level peculiarities of a particular hardware design, especially tricks for speed and space optimisation that rely on crocks such as overlapping instructions (or, as in the famous case described in The Story of Mel, interleaving of opcodes on a magnetic drum to minimise fetch delays due to the device's rotational latency). This sort of thing has become less common as the relative costs of programming time and computer resources have changed, but is still found in heavily constrained environments such as industrial embedded systems, and in the code of hackers who just can't let go of that low-level control. See Real Programmer.

In the world of personal computing, bare metal programming is often considered a Good Thing, or at least a necessary evil (because these computers have often been sufficiently slow and poorly designed to make it necessary; see ill-behaved). There, the term usually refers to bypassing the BIOS or OS interface and writing the application to directly access device registers and computer addresses. "To get 19.2 kilobaud on the serial port, you need to get down to the bare metal." People who can do this sort of thing well are held in high regard.

bare metal

(1) Hardware. A "bare metal computer" is one without any software (OS or applications). See bare bones system and bare-metal server.

(2) A "bare metal" virtual machine monitor, correctly called a "hypervisor," directly controls the hardware without using device drivers from another operating system (see virtual machine). See bare-metal switch.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sierraware offers a bare metal hypervisor for ARM processors.
Type-1 bare metal hypervisor or type-2 hypervisor on the client?
Ironically enough, the client bare metal hypervisor is based on Xen.
Sophos is committed to supporting current and emerging security and compliance customer needs within virtualized environments, and we are excited to announce our collaboration with Virtual Computer, a leader and innovator in bare metal hypervisor and virtual desktop management technologies.
XenClient, a bare metal hypervisor which is built on the same proven virtualization technology as Citrix XenServer[R], is the first solution to offer the no compromise control and security that IT demands and the performance and flexibility users expect.
XenClient Bare Metal Hypervisor - Based on the proven Citrix XenServer technology, and leveraging Intel virtualization technology, XenClient is a new bare metal client hypervisor that enables each virtual machine to run side-by-side directly on the hardware, rather than hosted within the installed operating system.
These leading cloud providers are committed to Xen as a fast, secure, bare metal hypervisor, but want the richness of a dedicated virtual infrastructure layer that offers great performance for both Windows and Linux, high availability, live relocation, dynamic workload provisioning and other powerful management features provided in the full XenServer product line.
By applying a breakthrough approach to virtualization that includes an innovative Type 1, bare metal hypervisor, Neocleus introduces a new security and IT management framework that establishes a completely separate virtual trusted environment outside of Windows.
They designed and built it in two months, with the last couple of servers, running bare metal hypervisors, provisioned in two hours.