Q. What actually happens when I flash my BIOS?
A. When you flash your BIOS the flash utility performs the following steps.
· Load the DOS 4G Protected Mode Drivers
· Identify the flash part (the BIOS chip)
· Identify the flash part size and programming voltage
· Identify the motherboard chipset
· Verify the BIOS checksum (makes sure that the BIOS file is correct)
- Erases the BIOS 'System Block' (writes over the data with all 0’s)
· Rewrites the 'System Block' with the new BIOS
· Loads CMOS defaults and then reboots
If an error occurs within the first five steps of the flash process them an error message will be displayed and the flash process will be aborted. Unfortunately if an error occurs after the flash utility has erased the 'System Block' then the computer will not reboot.
Q. What is a BIOS anyway?
A. BIOS is an acronym for Basic Input/Output System. It is a program that stores configuration details about your computer hardware and enables your computer to boot up. Every time your computer is switched on the BIOS loads configuration data into main memory, performs a routine diagnostic test on your hardware, then loads the operating system. Click thsi link for more details on the Basic Input Output System.The BIOS resides in a ROM chip, which is mounted on the motherboard, usually in a socket so it is removable. click for a picture
Q. What does the clear CMOS jumper do?
A. It resets the bios to the original factory default settings. Same effect as removing the battery.
Q. What does it mean when my motherboard beeps?
A. Well it depends on whose BIOS you are using. Each BIOS brand has different beep codes to designate certain types of errors. Count the beeps and see these charts for the definitions of beep codes for AMI, Award, and Phoenix.
Q. What is POST?
A. P.O.S.T is the Power On Self Test. For a very detailed description on POST click here: Power On Self Test. The POST is a set of system diagnostics that the BIOS performs before handing control to the operating system. It checks the floppy and hard disk drives; initializes chipset registers and system hardware; check memory size and test memory; setup power management; check I/O ports; display system configuration information on the screen; check system configuration information stored in CMOS.
Q. How do I remove my BIOS chip?
A. We have instructions for PLCC and DIP chips (click on the link)
Q. What is a PLCC or a DIP?
A. PLCC and DIP are two different types of packages for BIOS chips. Different motherboards use different BIOS chips.
Q: What does the BIOS do when my computer is powered on?
A: When you turn your computer on, a sequence of commands are automatically executed:
1. Information about your system configuration is loaded from the BIOS into main memory and chipset registers.
2. The BIOS executes a set of system diagnostics known as POST tests (Power On Self Test) to confirm that the various components of your system are working properly. During bootup, the BIOS will: check floppy and hard disk drives; initialize chipset registers and system hardware; check memory size and test memory; setup power management; check I/O ports; display system configuration information on the screen; check system configuration information stored in CMOS.
3. After POST, the BIOS hands control of the system over to the operating system. It searches for command lines on the hard drive or floppy that load device drivers and the operating system. After the command lines are executed the operating system loads and the BIOS jumps in the back seat.
Q. What is CMOS?
A. CMOS is an acronym for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor, (a term you really don't need to learn since it’s not a computer term but a description of a semiconductor technology). The CMOS stores pertinent system configuration information when system power is off.
Q. What does the clear CMOS jumper do?
A. It resets the BIOS to factory default settings and erases all system configuration data stored in CMOS. It is important to clear the CMOS before flashing the BIOS. Failure to clear CMOS can corrupt the bios and leave you with a disabled system until you can get a new BIOS chip. Sometimes after a BIOS update you must still clear the CMOS.
Q. How can I determine what kind of BIOS chip I need for my motherboard?
1)Look at your user manual that came with the motherboard or system. 3) Take the cover off your chassis and look at your motherboard. Most motherboards list the make and model number somewhere on the board.
3) If you can't find this info on the board, take a picture of the board and send us the picture along with any numbers you can read off the board.
4) Try running the CTBIOS diagnostic or the Sisfot sandra both on our download page. which will tell you what motherboard you have. DONT forget to REMOVE the stickers on the chip! Sticker information is useless to us.
Q. How do I remove my BIOS chip?
A. Follow our instructions here for PLCC and DIP chips. BIOSman sells 3 kinds of extraction tools.
Q: What is a ROM or an EEPROM?
A: ROM means Read Only Memory which means a memory chip that retains the data even when power is turned off. An EEPROM is an Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM, or a ROM chip that can be erased and reprogrammed electrically (as opposed to the old fashioned way of exposing the windowed chip to intense UV light to erase its contents)
Q: What does FLASH BIOS mean ?
A: The BIOS firmware resides in a ROM chip that retains the data even when power is turned off. Flash BIOS means that the BIOS is stored in a Flash EEPROM chip that can easily be reprogrammed by end users using a Flash Utility. This allows a convenient way to upgrade your BIOS as newer features are released. Virtually every motherboard built in this century has a Flash BIOS.
Q: What is AMI Quickflash and how do I use it?
A: AMI quickflash is the same as the AMI BIOS recovery method. Basically, it's a method to flash the BIOS without a flash utility. Follow these instructions:
- Copy the "ROM" file to a diskette in "A" drive.(Diskette does not have to be bootable).
- Make sure you are using the on board floppy controller.
- With system powered off and diskette with "ROM" file in "A" drive.
- Hold down on the "CTRL & HOME" keys and then power on system.
- There will be no video and notice floppy drive being accessed.
- You should hear 1 beep let go of keys.
- Then you will hear 2 beeps and then 3 beeps.
- System should reset and notice new BIOS release date at top of screen.
- Enter BIOS SETUP run the OPTIMAL SETINGS OPTION.
- Change BIOS SETTINGS for your configuration.
Q: When should I upgrade my BIOS?
A: The process of flashing the BIOS is only about 98% foolproof. Every time you flash your BIOS there's a small chance that you'll end up with a corrupted BIOS and a system that is disabled until you can buy a new BIOS chip. So we recommend flashing your BIOS only when necessary to solve a compatibility issue, solve a technical glitch, or to support new features that you need. A new BIOS revision rarely enhances performance.
Q: Where can I download the latest BIOS version for my motherboard?
A: Every motherboard manufacturer has a BIOS download area in their Support section. See BIOSman's links page to find the appropriate page for your motherboard manufacturer. You can also just do a Google or Yahoo search for them. Type in your motherboard name and usually you will get a link.
Q: What is BIOS shadowing?
A: Shadowing is when at bootup, your system copies all your BIOS settings into main memory. This may help your system perform slightly faster since it can access main memory much faster than the BIOS ROM. Shadowing should normally be enabled, but should always be disabled before flashing. BIOS Shadowing is also sometimes called Cache System BIOS.
Q: How do I flash my BIOS?
A: First you need the right BIOS data file and flash utility program. Some motherboard manufacturers recommend using a specific utility to flash. If they do, it's a good idea to follow their recommendations. Disable the 'Cache System BIOS' option, and always run the flash utility from DOS, not Windows. Run the utility and follow prompts. If the Utility gives you the option (as most do) to save your current BIOS to a floppy we strongly recommend doing that so you can flash back to the original version if needed.
Q. What are the possible problems with flashing my BIOS?
A. The road to flashing your BIOS is full of pot holes. It's very easy to disable your system by committing a minor mistake. But before you panic, read on'- You absolutely must use the correct BIOS (usually a .rom or .bin) file. Double check that you have the correct BIOS file before flashing as this is one of the most common mistakes. If you complete the flash process without errors, but your system will not boot up afterwards it's probably because you used the wrong file.
- Using an incompatible flash utility can also crash your flash. That's why we recommend using a flash utility that is recommended by the motherboard manufacturer for your board, or use the flash utility on BIOSman.
- If you flash in a DOS window (with the Windows O/S loaded), or over the internet you are begging for problems. Always flash from a bootable floppy that contains no device drivers, autoexec.bat, or config.sys files.
- Always save your old .bin or .rom BIOS file to a floppy.
- You could have a defective BIOS chip. BIOS chips vary widely in quality, and some brands are notoriously bad. If you get a write error half way through the flash it's probably due to a faulty chip. BIOSman uses only high quality chips and we guarantee our chips for one year.
Q: How can I recover my system from a bad flash?
A: Clear your CMOS (see instructions for this above), go into your BIOS setup and reconfigure the BIOS for your system, reboot and see what happens.
Q: What is a "Hot Flash"?
A: If the system still will not boot up and you happen to have another motherboard with the same chipset lying around you can boot up in DOS with the good BIOS, then pop the bad chip in (with the system running) and try to repeat the flash procedure. This procedure is known as a hot flash. This often works, but you risk corrupting both BIOS chips, damaging both motherboards and buying two chips from us insted of one.. BIOSman is not responsible in any way shape or form if you attempt this procedure!!
Q: Why doesn’t AMI and Award support their BIOS's?
A: AMI, Award, and Phoenix sell BIOS firmware to motherboard manufacturers under OEM license agreements. Most motherboard manufacturers ship a modified version of the OEM BIOS. The motherboard manufacturers are responsible for supporting their customers. Just like if you bought a Ford car that had a broken Delco radio you couldn't contact Delco directly for support.
Q: Will a BIOS from a different motherboard work in my motherboard?
A: We don't normally recommend it, but in many cases yes. If two random motherboards have the same chipset and super I/O chances are their BIOS chips are interchangeable. See hot flash.
Q: What can I do if I forgot the password to my BIOS setup?
A: Clear the CMOS (see instructions above). If this does not solve the problem try these passwords: "AWARD_SW" (for Award BIOS only) AMI (for AMI bios only) also try 'BIOS'. If that still fails to work you may have to replace your BIOS chip.
Q: What is Overclocking?
A: By definition, overclocking is running your system components above their rated specifications.
Q: Why would I want to Overclock?
A: People overclock for a lot of reasons. Most people know that CPUs, motherboards and memory can run much faster than their rated speeds—in fact, fast and slow CPUs are built identically, then speed-binned as part of the testing process. Overclocking gives you more performance for your dollar. Some people just overclock for fun or to see how far they can push their hardware.
Q: So why WOULDN’T I want to Overclock?
A: Overclocking can damage your hardware, void your warranty, shorten component life by causing components to run hotter, and can cause your system to be less stable than you might like. Overclocking is done at your own risk. And you may not be able to get support for your system or components if you are overclocking. Certain CPUs, motherboards and memory are known to overclock very well while others do not.
Q: How do I overclock my system?
A: There are a lot of different options. Most common is to adjust your Front Side Bus clock and your memory clock speeds in the BIOS. You’ll find a lot more guidance on dedicated overclocking sites like www.overclockers.com. There is not really any benfit nowadays to overclocking. In the good old days it was fun and significant gains were made. Seems some people get happy OCing a few extra Mhz out of CPU's and GPU's. The main concept though is to increase the voltage usually by BIOS settings on todays boards and then increase the CPU frequency. In the old days it was all done by jumpers. You can do the same for the memory. If you want a faster system, fork out the dough and buy a fast Hard Drive, more memory and a faster CPU.
Q: What is EFI?
A: EFI is an Intel idea that will supposedly eventually replace the BIOS as we know it. EFI stands for Extensible Firmware Interface. You can read more about it at Intels site here.
The main idea is that the BIOS has been around for so long its just not useful to todays computers. It slows them down. For instance a standard BIOS can only address 128K of option rom space. Most devices have option roms. So if you have an Adpatec scsi, a ATI video card and an Intel NIC. The BIOS loads these devices into memory. But lets say that the Adpatec device takes up 76K of option rom, the Intel NIC takes up 48K then there isnt enough for the video card or USB or any other devices etc(128K limit).
Common tricks to get around this limitation are to change the PCI scan order or disable some devices in the BIOS. The bottom line is the whole boot process and interaction between BIOS and the OS will be smoother, more efficient and faster. You may ask if EFI will put BIOSMAN out of business? I doubt it. BIOS's will still be flashed, viruses will still be around, power outtages will occur and there are millions of motherboards out there with current BIOS technology.
AMI has a version of EFI called Aptio. Read about it here.
Q: Why can’t you program DELL’s BIOS chips?
A: DELL does not provide the BIOS files.