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ECP/EPP mode supposed to be selectable...what gives?

Posted on 1998-12-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-02-20
Motherboard: 486-VIP-IO
CPU: AMD 486 DX4 100 MHz
BIOS: Award Modular BIOS v 4.50G

According to literature on this board/bios/chipset (NS PC87332)/jumpers, the parallel port should have normal/ECP/EPP capable parallel port, selectable in the setup screens.

Can anyone recommend a resource/info to determine why it does not?  For instance, is it the wrong BIOS, wrong version of the chip, faulty literature?  How could this be determined?  Where could I get the chip's spec?

It's a problem for me not to have EPP on the port because  I'd like to run a scanner on it.

Thanks in advance.
It does not have a place
Question by:keyboards
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Expert Comment

ID: 1014026
ok this is not used from the BIOS in the 486s this is done from the IDE CONTROLLER CARD which connect to the parallel port. this is a jumper setting in the IDE CONTROLLER CARD. where the Parallel Port is. look for the instruction of the IDE CONTROLLER CARD for setting up the EPP for the PORT. you probably have Normal mode or SP. you can try to run it. and see if it works like it is already. some systems will not have problem with it. It is just an optimal thing to do. But you will always be able to run in Normal,SP try it out.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014027
if you cannot select epp in the bios for your paralel port and you do set it there try a bios upgrade for that board.
If you can't set the port in the bios (you say you can set it there so..) do what istal suggests.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014028
I'm not sure if you are saying you can't find the BIOS setup, or can't find the setting in the BIOS setup, or the setting  is there in the BIOS setup but you don't have the option to make it ECC/EPP, or it is enable as ECC/EPP in the BIOS setup but windows doesn't see the port.  This info would be helpful.  What specifically can't you get to work.

The enabling of the parallel port on a motherboad is done from the BIOS setup you can enter when you start your system.  If istal is right, it may be on the IDE controller card.  At any rate, if the port is enable in the right mode in the BIOS the port will appear in windows as ECC/EPP.
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Expert Comment

ID: 1014029
First, you should note that your bios is probably not flashable, designated by the 4.50G, rather than 4.50PG.  Flashable bios was listed as an option for this board.  This means you'll need to have it burned into a new chip or order a pre-flashed chip. Peel back the sticker on the bios chip...if there's a little window, it's an EPROM and you can't flash.

Second, the latest (and last) bios for this board is Version 4.27GN2A (02/14/96) with a bios id string of

This bios has the option in:



Expert Comment

ID: 1014030
OK upgrading to a new Bios will have that option BIOS. But some old 486s with external IDE Controller. which connect the FDD and Hardrive, also has COM1 and COM2 from there and Parralell port as weell, this Controller cards has jumpers which enable the right IRQ and COM for such things. Old BIOS did not have this solutions. and If it is not done from the hardware it will not work even if he has the new Flash. he will still have to use the jumpers. beside a BIOS cost 50$ at least and a new card around 15$. so if he were to upgrade it. He will be better buying a new motherboard. which will end up being a more expensive solution at the long run.

Keyboards, what you need to do is to find documentation of you IDE controller in this case so you can get to know how to change the jumpers. this are very different in different Controllers. and without the diagram it will be imposible to do.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014031
Istal - the 486-VP-IO has built-in IDE controller and parallel port, so an external controller card is irrelevant. A new pre-flashed bios chip will cost about U.S. $25, or he can buy a new chip and hot-swap.  I don't know where you get your $50 bios price from, the upgrade itself is free.

So forget about the controller card, and the jumpers.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014032
well, he does not need to buy a new BIOS. if you are saying that it is has an integrated IDE controller card. (SOME 486 do use external CARD) then he has to change the OPTION SETUP in the BIOS. going to PHERIPERALS and choosing PARALLEL PORT and putting the right address and the Type of port. It will be ridicolous a 486 with an Internal card does need to have a BIOS upgrade in order to work with it.
which Company sell the BIOS at $25 ? I might like to upgrade mine :) to a more advance one. :).

Expert Comment

ID: 1014033
1) If his current bios does not have the ECP/EPP option, he most certainly has to upgrade.
2) Since his bios chip is probably not flashable, he will need to buy a new chip, either pre-flashed, or empty and flash it himself.
3) D.I.Y. Bios upgrades are free, 99% of the time. You can order pre-flashed chips off the web or from the manufacturer, for a fee.
4) Yes, I am aware that older 486s used add-on cards.  His doesn't.
5) If you're looking for a bios upgrade yourself, visit me at Wim's BIOS Page and I'll help you out.


Expert Comment

ID: 1014034

The simplest and best solution is to install a Parallel port card. Even if you can set your on board port to ECP/EPP you must
share the port with your printer unless you use an A/B Switch.

Sharing the printer port cause problems with some printers. An
add-on Parallel card will cost less than $25.00


Author Comment

ID: 1014035
Thanks for all the feedback!  First some clarification...

1) Award Modular BIOS v4.50G (appears to be not flashrom)
    Version 4.26GN2A (01/18/95)  IBM PC/AT  FC 01 01

2) Integrated IDE (and FDC and UART, etc)  on the PC87332VLJ-5
     on the motherboard

3) Board/BIOS/setup screen literature showing "normal/EPP/ECP"
     selections on "Printer Mode" option on "Chipset Feature Setup"
     screen is for  "ROM PCI/ISA BIOS (2A4L4000)", yet I do not show the
     "Printer Mode" option on that screen at all.

4) National wrote me back on this, but not much help.  Just refered me to
     the datasheet for the chip, which I've digested somewhat.

5) Have found many utilities out there to help diagnose and even write
     to the port's registers, but none of them support ECP/EPP.

6) Win95 Device Manager is showing "ECP Printer Port" working
     properly using lpt.vxd version 4.00.950 at 0x278, which agrees with
     the jumper settings.

7) According to the board/BIOS/Setup doc, the index address should be
    at 0x26E, and I will try to use this info along with the chip spec to read/
    write the registers and see where that gets me.

8) I did get a BIOS upgrade from UNICORE, however
    - video is totally blank on boot, can get setup or anything
    - taking the OnTrack disk "wedges" out and losing my disk is not
      too enticing.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014036
>3) Board/BIOS/setup screen literature showing "normal/EPP/ECP"
>selections on "Printer Mode" option on "Chipset Feature Setup"
>screen is for  "ROM PCI/ISA BIOS (2A4L4000)", yet I do not show
>the "Printer Mode" option on that screen at all.

Either missing or hidden. In any case, cannot be rectified without a bios update.

>8) I did get a BIOS upgrade from UNICORE, however
>- video is totally blank on boot, can get setup or anything
>- taking the OnTrack disk "wedges" out and losing my disk is not
>too enticing.

Ack. Can you get a refund? Unicore is more expensive then a new board.  Try using an ISA video card.

At any rate, your only options to get the scanner running with EPP support are a) get the Unicore upgrade working, b) get the FIC upgrade put into a new chip, c) get a Parallel port card, like cumbo suggests.

Accepted Solution

hnminh earned 900 total points
ID: 1014037
Hi Keyboards,
By my experience of assembling computer, most of mainboard (hardware in general) I've got is included with document for that hardware FAMILY. The document always shows all supported function for that family but not must have on all that hardware family. While you have to configure your parallel port by jumper (no. 6 of your comment on December 28 1998 - 06:06PM PST) it means the mainboard you have just support hard setting. And if you experienced with assembling computer you remember that such entry in BIOS setup jusr be used to allow you to make a "soft" setting (I mean setting by software).
So I think you had better not spend too much time wonder why it's not as your document literature while you still have nessessary thing by other way.

Expert Comment

ID: 1014038
hnminh - I have checked the bios update for this board, and the option to define his parallel port as ECP/EPP/Standard DOES exist in the cmos setup. He just needs to update the bios to the latest version.

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