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coreboot moves into 32bit protected mode (without paging) within ~30 instructions after power-on. Contemporary PC firmware now does as well, or even moves to 64bit long mode.

For BIOS services, there's SeaBIOS (www.seabios.org) which we can run as a payload. DOS works fine with it.

The fastest entry into pmode I've seen is InsydeH2O BIOS which does it in <10 instructions.

I'd be more interested in how many cycles it takes. I mean at 2 billion instructions per second, do you really notice a difference between 30 and 10 instructions? However, if any/all/many of the stall on data or something, then yes, it matters.

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