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Award BootBlock

Posted on 2001-08-10
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
[and, yes, I've looked at the other answers on this <grin>]

I have a Abit KT7-RAID board with AMD Athlon 800Mhz.  It has worked flawlessly for about a year.  The other day, my son was playing a game when the computer froze on him.  It was locked solid so he reset it and it booted with this message and a single low-tone:

Award BootBlock...

BIOS Checksum error

Then it told me to insert a system disk and press a key.

NOTE: The standard "press DEL" message does not come up but it did continue to support my AGP card (believe it or not) until I flashed the BIOS then I had to put in a PCI card (which works).

I have reflashed the BIOS three times -- once with the same level, once with the latest, and once again with the same level that was on it.  No change even though all flashes reported success in the process.

Even though it said BIOS checksum, I reset the CMOS (30 seconds).  No difference.  I checked the battery voltage -- 3 volts.  I ran CLRCMOS to clear the CMOS values.  No difference.

So, thinking the BIOS chip must be fried, I bought an aftermarket BIOS from Unicore and swapped it in.  NO DIFFERENCE.

I am running out of ideas on this.  I've contact the board manufacturer and Award but neither has bothered to even respond.  I have never run into this error before and would really value some one helping me to solve it.
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Question by:advapp
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Expert Comment

by:RoadWarrior
ID: 6374968
When you first flashed it, did you clear CMOS values then? If you didn't, what may have happened was the AGP settings got scrambled, you put the PCI card in, and since then it has set VGA=PCI as default, so try setting VGA=AGP in BIOS setup, shutting off the system, then putting in the AGP card. If that doesn't work, then...

.. What could have been the cause of the crash and failure was the AGP card overheating and dying, so you may have a dead AGP card there :-(  test it in a friends system, try borrowing a friends AGP card to see if that works, take a look at your warranty to see if you can get it replaced.

regards,

Road Warrior
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 6375370
Have you checked for a virus?  There are a number of them that attack the CMOS settings and install themselves into the boot block on the disk.

Get a copy of anti-virus and boot from a known clean floppy.
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 6375715
Very strange !
Swapping the BIOS should have eliminated any viruses, yet the same msg comes up.

Is the bootblock being stored somewhere else ( not in the BIOS ) on newer machines ??

Just my 2 cents !
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 6375768
If the virus is in the boot sector of the disk, clearing the CMOS would not get rid of it.  I can't remember which virus it was but there was one that infected the HDD boot sector and trashed the BIOS CMOS settings every time it booted.  Then you had to recover your CMOS settings and the process started again.

I'm not aware of any that actually write themselves into the flash BIOS.  While technically possible I think that wide variations between models of motherboard make this not so much fun for virus developers.  They prefer to get wide coverage...
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Expert Comment

by:Don Thomson
ID: 6375792
Try booting with a boot disk and do fdisk /mbr
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Accepted Solution

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WiZaRd earned 200 total points
ID: 6377196
had exactly this a few months ago and it went like this.

build new machine tested fine & delivered to customer.

all OK for a couple of months then machine returned with your symptoms.
flashed bios successfully & returned to customer with a charge for assumed meddling (not denied at the time)
lasted another month then returned again along with fried hard drive (don't know if this is related or not)
fortunately for customer, supplier agreed to replace mainboard & hard drive under warranty as a second bios flash did not work (nor did replacing the bios chip).

Conclusion: Don't know what causes the problem but get the mainboard replaced under warranty now if possible. Will post back here if I ever find out what caused it.
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Author Comment

by:advapp
ID: 6393249
Update:
I'm still trying some of the suggestions.  I was able to corner someone at Phoenix (which recently bought-out Award) and he told me this:

Award BootBlock is in ROM (true ROM not flashable EEPROM) and is always run first.  It runs a checksum against the BIOS in EEPROM and then against the CMOS values.  If either fails the checksum, then it presents the message I am getting -- with the appropriate BIOS or CMOS CHECKSUM ERROR message.

He said that the BIOS CHECKSUM ERROR should be resolvable by flashing (successfully) the BIOS.  If this doesn't work, the chip is either dead or the circuitry providing the flashing function is dead.
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Expert Comment

by:WiZaRd
ID: 6393352
Like I said, get a replacement mainboard under warranty if you can. Given my experience even if you succeed in flashing the bios it may only last a short while. Sort it out now while it's still in warranty!
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 6393575
>>Award BootBlock is in ROM (true ROM not flashable EEPROM)

Actually that's inaccurate.  Most (if not all) of these use a FLASH or EEPROM device with a protectable "boot block".  This part of the device is still FLASH or EEPROM but once written with special equipment at the factory cannot be erased and re-written in the field.  So it is effectively ROM but can lose its memory if it is defective.

It sure sounds like that may be the problem here.
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Author Comment

by:advapp
ID: 6419372
Update:
Well, too wierd.  I have another system, similar to this one (KT7A-RAID/1Ghz Athlon) that uses the same BIOS.  So, I opted to try some swapping.  Here's what I found:

I took the BIOS out of the "bad" system and put it in the "good" system.  It did not come up with the boot block message, and did boot into the BIOS, but I didn't take the time to set up everything.  Otherwise, it seemed to work.

So, I took the BIOS from the "good" system and put it in the "bad" system -- expecting that I would still get the boot block message because of the success in the prior step.  WRONG.  I no longer got the boot block message and it booted into the BIOS!

Ok.  So I put the BIOS-s back in their original systems --the boot block message came back!

Maybe there is just some wierd incompatiblity between the BIOS and mboard?  'Doubt it since it had been running for a year.

I've been trying to get an RMA from Abit but they have been -- well, completely uncooperative and my one-year warranty expires in three days!  Unreal.

I really will award the points when I resolve this.  I just want to play it out until I see what the end result is.

Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 6419497
I would try your BIOS swappng again, but Clear the CMOS NVRAM  on your bad MB in between.
The bad boot block msg may also be set by a flag in the CMOS that needs to be cleared.

I hope this helps !
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Author Comment

by:advapp
ID: 6437146
After everything else I've tried, I've reconciled myself to sending the board in for repair.  Since WiZaRd suggested this at the first, I'm awarding the points there.  Thanks to all for the suggestions and comments.
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