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Policy Service

Documents the interface, design, and implementation of the Policy service split across PEI and DXE modules as well as any supporting libraries or best practices.


The generalized policy service, implemented in DXE and PEI, provides interfaces for components to publish and consume generic policies between components in the UEFI environment. This policy takes the form of generic data and it is up to the producer and consumer to agree upon the contents and format of that policy. This document makes recommendations as to best practices to sustainably format policy data, but the service is agnostic to the format or meaning of the policy.

Policy is a data block containing configurations or settings relating to the silicon, platform, or feature state of the system. This information can originate from PCD entries, platform/silicon configuration code, user settings, or otherwise determined at runtime. A policy may be entirely defined by a single component or it can be built and transformed by several components each further customizing or locking down the system.


In UEFI there is a need to share these Policy data blocks across components or phases. This could be specific device configuration, settings data, platform information, etc. The Policy service is intended to give an easy, abstracted, and extensible interface for accomplishing this data publishing.

Previous Technologies

There are several existing mechanisms that can be used to share configuration and data with the rest of the UEFI environment, but currently these mechanisms either don't perfectly align with the Policy Service's use case or are not suitable for adoption across all platforms. Below is a comparison to some of the currently existing methods for sharing data blocks in UEFI.

NVRAM Variables - Because NVRAM will be implemented at the platform level, leveraging across silicon or other base code causes a inverse dependency.

Hand Off Blocks - While handoff blocks can be used to share data, they only solve the particular case from where the data is sourced from PEI. HOBs do not provide any robust data management features. Additionally, HOBs can be easily misused, for example by storing direct references to the HOB across memory initialization.

Config Blocks - Config blocks serve a similar use case as the Policy service, but is not currently in a position to be used across the UEFI ecosystem. Config Blocks lack some of the features such as data management abilities, or features such as the ability to dispatch and notify on data updates. Additionally Config Blocks lack public documentation to be widely adopted.

Platform Configuration Database - PCDs, in particular dynamic PCDs, can also be used to share data across components. However, PCDs are more focused and prescriptive in the data type and use case while also lacking some of the data management features and extensibility. Due to it's dependence on the build system PCDs can also be problematic when integrating pre-compiled binary components. The Policy Service is not intended to replace PCDs, but to provide a more light weight and simple method for components to share data.

Data Format

The Policy service only implements a generic blob storage and should not be directly used in many scenarios. For managed configuration and data format, see the Policy Library ReadMe.

Policy Management Process

Policies are uniquely defined by a GUID. This GUID should only be used for a specific data type and purpose. Only one policy may be published under a specific GUID at any given time. Duplicates will overwrite the original policy unless the policy has been finalized via the policy attributes. Policies are managed through a simple Get/Set/Remove interface detailed below. After their creation, policies are universally available to all components and supported environments unless otherwise specified in the policy attributes.

Policy Components

The policy will be accessed by two types of components: producers and consumers. There may be some components that are both consumers and producers by altering an existing policy, possibly using notifications to alter the policy as soon as it is made available.

Producer - Creates original policy
  |--->[Consumer/Producer - Alters policy]
       |--->Consumer 1 - Reads altered policy
       |--->Consumer 2 - Reads altered Policy

The original policy will often be created in PEI to be available as soon as possible, and may be consumed in PEI or may not be consumed until DXE. Implementors of a new policy should consider what component is the origin of the the data, what components may need to edit the data, and what components will eventually use the data. In the sample code, the PEI sample module is the producer and the DXE sample module is the consumer for the example policy shared from PEI to DXE.

Producers may also finalize the policy to prevent future accessors from writing to the data. Finalizing will prevent specialization of a policy and so should be done sparingly in silicon or other low-level components.


Policies can be can be set with attribute flags allowing the policy provider to specify on how the policy is handled. For example, this can be used to finalize the policy making it read-only or can be used to limit access to the policy to a phase of boot. See the PolicyInterface header definitions for full list of attributes.

Policy Interface

Both the PEI and DXE implementation provide the following interfaces.


Creates a new or overwrites and existing policy. Policies can only be overwritten if the policy has not be finalized. The policy will be copied from the provided buffer to an internal store, so all further edits must be done though additional calls to SetPolicy.


Returns a copy of the policy for the provided policy GUID and its current attributes. The caller is responsible for allocating the buffer the policy is copied into.


Removes a policy from the policy list, freeing it when possible.


Registers a callback that will be invoked when a policy is edited in some way. The reasons for the callback can be filtered through the EventTypes parameter.


Removes a policy notification callback, prevent any further invocation.

Policy Notifications

Consumers may subscribe to policy updates in multiple ways. For end-consumers of a policy they may use the policy GUID in their DEPEX for the signal final policy, and all other consumers may use the policy notification callbacks.

Final Policy Signal Protocol & PPI

When a policy is finalized a PPI or Protocol will be installed with the GUID of the policy. Consumers may use this GUID to either set Protocol/PPI notifications, or create a DEPEX dependency so that the consumer is not dispatched until the final policy is made available. The protocol/PPI will not contain any useful interface and consumers are expected to use the Policy Service protocol interface to retrieve the policy data after being notified or dispatched.

Policy Service Callbacks

The policy service supports callbacks for various types of policy events such as a policy being created, updated, finalized, or removed. Consumers may use the RegisterNotify routine to set a callback in the event that a provided policy undergoes the event specified in the callback registration. A given callbacks may receive an event with multiple events at once. For example, a finalized event will always be accompanied by a set event since a policy must be set to be finalized.

Registered callbacks will be invoked in order of ascending Priority with ties being resolved with a first-come-first-serve approach. Callbacks may make edits to the underlying policy which will result in all of the original still pending notifications being canceled and the all of callbacks being re-invoked with the new event. For example, if you have the notifications of ascending priority where B edits the policy the sequence of callbacks would be

A -> B (EDIT) -> A -> B -> C

For this reason, callbacks that edit the policy should either remove their notification first or take precautions to not create a infinite notification loop.

Policy Service Implementation

The policy interfaces use a pass-by-copy scheme to ensure that the producers and consumers cannot directly edit the policy data and all interactions are done in transactions. This also allows for attributes such as finalized to be strongly enforced. Internally the PEI and DXE phase implementation have their own method for storing policy data.

PEI Phase

Policies created during PEI are immediately stored into a HOB. All policy HOBs are given the same well-known GUID, gPolicyHobGuid, with a POLICY_HOB_HEADER header to track it's metadata. When a given policy is requested the PEIM will search the HOBs with the well-known GUID to find the matching policy header. If a policy is removed or made obsolete with a larger version of the policy, the header will be set with the removed flag and will no longer be evaluated by the service.

When a policy is created or updated in the PEI phase, a NULL PPI will be installed, or reinstalled, with the GUID of the policy. This PPI is intended to allow for notification and dispatch of consumers when the policy becomes available.

DXE Phase

During it's initialization, the DXE driver will process the HOB list to discover any valid policies that may exist. These HOB policy blocks will then be added to the DXE driver's linked list structure of the active policies on the system. Any policies created or updated in the DXE phase will be allocated in pool memory and freed when removed or expanded.

Like the PEIM, the DXE driver will install/reinstall a NULL protocol with the given policies GUID when it is created or updated to allow for notification and dispatch on the policy availability.

Traditional/Standalone MM

Like the DXE phase, the MM policy service will ingest any policies from the HOB list for architectures. The MM policy service is implemented identically to the DXE phase module with the exception of using the MM specific protocols.

Policies in the MM service are isolated from PEI and DXE. The MM module will ingest any policies available in the hob list from PEI where applicable but no policies created or modified by PEI or DXE after Traditional/Standalone MM has been launched will be available from the MM policy service. Similarly, no policy created or edited in the MM policy service will be readable from the PEI or DXE policies services.

Policies are not shared with the traditional/standalone MM module after initialization. Any policy created in MM will not be readable by DXE and PEI, and any policy made after MM initialization will not be readable from MM.

YAML Based Policy Definition

This section provides an overview of YAML based policy definition and how platform can integrate them.

YAML Definition for Policy Structures

When used, the YAML based policy definition is treated as the ground truth of policy structure and default data. The YAML parser is largely inheritted from Intel's slim bootloader. Thus, the YAML syntax follows the specification defined in slim bootloader as well.

Such YAML definition will be used to generate header files and the field accessors for platform consumption.

MU Added Rules

In addition to aforementioned YAML specification from slim bootloader, a few extra rules was added to the existing specification to facilitate the adaptation of policy specific usage. These rules will be enforced by a Pre-Build plugin, more details in its implementation section.

  1. Each policy definition group must include a POLICY_HEADER_TMPL section, as provided in this template here. This section should include a 64-bit signature, an expected major version, an maximally expected minor version and a size of such structure. This data will mainly be used as metadata instead of policy data. Platforms could !include the provided template for easier inclusion.

  2. For each non-header fields defined in the YAML policy file, developers could optionally add a minver field, which denotes at which minor version this field is added. If not added, this field will be treated as 0 for default value.

  3. Under the same major value, all new minor fields should only be appended after the fields with lower minor version values, otherwise the build will break.

  4. This YAML definition is not created to support UI configuration features, thus no UI related configuration fields will be recognized in the context of policy YAML definition.

Field Accessors

For each fields defined in YAML structures, 4 accessor functions will be created. These functions will cover the functionality of setting this field to target value or default value, get current or default value from policy handle.

All autogen functions will be created under the naming scheme of SET_POLICY_STRUCTURE_NAME_Field_Name, SET_POLICY_STRUCTURE_NAME_Field_Name_default, GET_POLICY_STRUCTURE_NAME_Field_Name and GET_POLICY_STRUCTURE_NAME_Field_Name_default.

The internal implementation of these functions are dependent on PolicyLib, specifically the verified policy related functionalities.

In order to simplify the usage of policy initialization, a function of SET_POLICY_STRUCTURE_NAME_default is created. This function could be invoked for a platform to initialize the newly created policy handle.

Pre-Build Plugin

A pre-build plugin is created to enforce rules indicated in the previous section.

This plugin requires 3 build environment variable to execute properly:

  • BUILD_OUTPUT_BASE: This is used to create a temporary folder to contain intermediate files
  • UPDATE_SETTINGS: Setting this to false to disable this plugin
  • POLICY_REPORT_FOLDER: This optional variable can be used to indicate where the plugin should output the report.
  • POLICY_IGNORE_PATHS: This optional variable can be used by platform to specify which directories or files the autogen should ignore. Each entry should be relative UEFI path separated by colons (';'). If not supplied this report will be save to the same folder of ACTIVE_PLATFORM.

A policy report is the collateral output after codebase analyzing:

  • During pre-build, this plugin will search through all the included package paths for files ending with _policy_def.yaml or _policy_def.yml. Each policy component should have its own *_policy_def.yaml file. i.e. USB_policy_def.yaml for USB policies and PCI_policy_def.yaml for PCI policies.

  • For each discovered policy definition, the plugin will compute a hash value of each defined minor version with the structure and its content. This value will be compared to the value from previously output report, if this report does not exist, the plugin will create one.

  • If the any of the rules does not meet, or any field change is detected, the build will halt and notify the developers to fix the unexpected and update the report file.

  • The plugin will also generate the header file from this YAML definition automatically, which includes the header structure and its accessors.

Platform Integration

For a platform to integrate the changes, the following needs to be satisfied:

Silicon Packages

  • Define and create component policy defintions in YAML.

  • Use autogen accessors and PolicyLib to consume policy values.

Platform Packages

  • Use autogen accessors and PolicyLib to publish and/or override policy values.

  • Include POLICY_REPORT.xml for version tracking purpose.

  • Add PolicyLib instances to platform descriptor file.