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BIOS wrongly flashed on Data Expert board

Posted on 1999-12-21
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Last Modified: 2008-03-03
I flashed the BIOS (Rev.2.1) of a Data Expert motherboard "EXP8449" (486) with the flash utility for "EXP8551" (586).
Got message : "Flash EPROM Programming error. System will NOT be usable unless existing Flash EPROM is replaced with new Programmed Flash EPROM. Put off system power"

After power off/power on : no lights or screen activity at all, no HD startup.

Then I cleared the CMOS : put connector J1 at 1-2 (2-3 = Normal) and powered on.
Nothing happens (guess this is normal?).

Only when I leave connector J1 all OPEN (1-2-3-4 OPEN), then I get a bootable system.
But I have to run setup again after every power off/power on. I can't manage to permanently save the setup even if I do a "save setting and exit" at the end of the setup process.

Putting connector J1 back to "Normal" (2-3) results in the same situation where the system doesn't do anything at all.

What to do ?

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Question by:vandepwv
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Author Comment

by:vandepwv
ID: 2297399
Edited text of question.
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jhance earned 300 total points
ID: 2297699
This is a "bad thing".  It's clear that you've messed up the BIOS by programming it with the wrong BIOS code.  The fact that is works with the jumper in a particular state is just lucky and the fact that there is a great deal of similarity (perhaps 95% or greater) between different BIOS versions.  The problem is that there are a few parts of the code that is trying to configure and boot your hardware that is not correct.  By disabling the CMOS setup, you are forcing the computer to go through a sequence that appears to cause it to come up in a valid way.

You are not going to like the solution, however.  You need to get the CORRECT BIOS back into the BIOS chip.  If you have or can get an image of it and the BIOS chip is a removable flash memory, you can get a friendly technician with a flash memory programmer to "burn" the correct code into the chip or make you a new one.  You would also get a replacement from the manufacturer or the MB or from a 3rd party like UNICORE.

This question underscores the danger in re-programming flash BIOS chips.  First, something can go wrong and often people flash their BIOS without any good reason.  If it's not broken, why fix it.  Second, people don't understand that the BIOS is the ONE THING in a computer system that handles the differences in hardware.  A BIOS from one model of motherboard, perhaps even a REVISION of the same model is NOT necessarily compatible with the one you have unless the manufacturer says it is.  In your case, you weren't even close with a 486 MB and a Pentium BIOS.
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Author Comment

by:vandepwv
ID: 2297979
Thank's for the explanation.
But what I forget to tell is that I also tried to reprogram the BIOS with the correct flash utility, but with the same error message and the same result.

Does this leave me with the option to physically replace the BIOS-chip itself ? (Which is not an option because I don't think I can find a new one).
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 2298140
>I also tried to reprogram the...

Yes, but the damage has been done.  It's very likely that the flash programming code (which is also stored in the memory) has been damaged as well.

>Does this leave me with the option to
>physically

Yes.  If you have a copy of the original BIOS image or can download a good one from the MB web site, someone with a hardware flash memory programmer can reprogram it for you.
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Author Comment

by:vandepwv
ID: 2300012
Thanks again for your helpfull explanation. I think I can stop my search now, and start recovering some usefull parts of this PC to build a new one.
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