3.5 GUIDs

A UEFI programming environment provides software services through the UEFI Boot Services Table, the UEFI Runtime Services Table, and Protocols installed into the handle database. Protocols are the primary extension mechanism provided by the UEFI Specification. Protocols are named using a GUID.

A GUID is a unique 128-bit number that is a globally unique identifier (a universally unique identifier, or UUID). Each time an image, protocol, device, or other item is defined in UEFI, a GUID must be generated for that item. The example below shows the structure definition for an EFI_GUID in the EDK II along with the definition of the GUID value for the EFI Driver Binding Protocol from the UEFI Specification.

Example 1-EFI_GUID data structure in EDK II

/// 128 bit buffer containing a unique identifier value.
/// Unless otherwise specified, aligned on a 64 bit boundary.
typedef struct {
UINT32 Data1;
UINT16 Data2;
UINT16 Data3;
UINT8 Data4[8];
/// 128-bit buffer containing a unique identifier value.
typedef GUID EFI_GUID;
/// The global ID for the Driver Binding Protocol.
{ \
0x18a031ab, 0xb443, 0x4d1a, {0xa5, 0xc0, 0xc, 0x9, 0x26, 0x1e, 0x9f, 0x71 } \

TIP: New GUID values can be generated using the GUIDGEN utility shipped with Microsoft compilers, or the *uuidgen command under Linux. Other GUID generation utilities may be found using internet searches.

Protocol services are registered in the handle database using the GUID name of the Protocol and Protocol services are discovered by looking up Protocols in the handle database using the GUID name associated with the Protocol to perform the lookup operation.

UEFI fundamentally assumes that a specific GUID exposes a specific protocol interface (or other item). Because a protocol is "named" by a GUID (a unique identifier), there should be no other protocols with that same GUID. Be careful when creating protocols to define a new, unique GUID for a new protocol.

Put another way, the GUID forms a contract: If the UEFI Driver finds a protocol with a particular GUID, it may assume that the contents of the protocol are as specified for that protocol. If the contents of the protocol are different, the driver that published the protocol is assumed to be in error.

In some ways, GUIDs are can be viewed as contracts. If a UEFI Driver looks up a protocol with a certain GUID, the structure under the GUID is well defined. If the GUID is duplicated, this 1:1 mapping breaks. If a GUID is copied and applied to a new protocol, the users of the old protocol call the new protocol expecting the old interfaces or vice versa. Either way, the results are never good.

Caution: There are improper practices to create new GUID values. For example, cutting and pasting an existing GUID, hand-modifying an existing GUID, or

incrementing/decrementing fields in a GUID creates the opportunity to introduce a duplicate GUID. These practices can cause catastrophic failures. Typically, a system containing a duplicate GUID may inadvertently find the new protocol and think that it is another protocol, which mostly likely crashes the system. Another possible failure is a data-loss failure caused when a duplicated GUID is a data-handling GUID (such as a disk I/O, file-system or NVRAM-handling GUID). Always use a GUID generator utility to create new GUIDs.

TIP: Bugs caused by duplicate GUIDs are typically very difficult to root cause and many developers do not check the GUID when debugging. If the root cause for a hang has not been found in a reasonable amount of time, check to make sure the GUID for each relevant protocol is unique.