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BIOS update

Posted on 2005-02-28
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Hi All,

Is there a standard way to update the BIOS?

I mean is there a standard for application/system programs to talk to a system BIOS for updating it? I mean burning a new hex/bin file provided by the motherboard manufacturer.

Is there a standard in place as of yet? or is it different from manufacturer to manufacturer?

Thanks,
-Jinu
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Question by:jinumjoy
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tmj883 earned 900 total points
ID: 13418902
The process varies by manufacturer and model. T
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by:Callandor
ID: 13419291
You need a specific program for the BIOS - there is one for Award and another for AMI.  Visit your manufacturer's website to download both the flash program and the binary.  Keep in mind that if you flash a binary that is not intended for your motherboard, you will have a dead motherboard.  Likewise, if you lose power or interrupt the flash process while it is happening, you will have a dead motherboard.  The rule is, only flash your BIOS if the new version will fix a specific problem you have, or you will be running a risk for little reward.
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by:jinumjoy
ID: 13419551
oh i understand the consequence of giving a wrong firmware to board. I ofcourse know that. My doubt was on how i load the firmware.

Is there a standard command these BIOS respond to for buring the hex/bin files? I mean can I write an application looking at some standard that can be a universal BIOS hex/bin burner? That which will work with all motherboards?
Heard of a standard called SMBIOS? Can it help me achieve what I want? If there exists no such standard to burn. I guess its time we had one!

-Jinu
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by:mysticaldan
ID: 13419681
You cant have genereic updates in case of BIOS. Every manufacturer makes his motherboard and implements it in a different way to interact with the BIOS. The BIOS makes sure that your hardware and the OS can talk optimally and for that the specefic routines are unique to each manufacturer so in case if you are looking for an update you got to go to the manufacturer for that.

The good companies will come out with more updates  that focus not just on fixing bugs but increasing performance also. Somethings in the BIOS might be standard especially with certain Taiwanese companies like the onboard 810 and 815 graphics cards routines which were quite standard in most boards, keyboard controllers were also standard but thats where the standard ends and memory wait states/slots ratio etc is different and not standard.

Dan
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by:SoyYop
ID: 13419768
Most manufacturers have realiable programs that works within windows. You must go to the website, look for updates, download the "windows" version and run it.

On old times, that used to be done using a boot diskette, but not anymore.

I've used Windows-based bios updaters without problems on many Dell, IBM, Intel-based, and Asus motherboards.

What are your motherboard's brand and model?
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by:LRI41
ID: 13420105





How to flash BIOS

Can someone explain or give me an address to learn hoe to flash BIOS


The first admonition is Don't try it unless you actually have to.
The second  BE CAREFULL!!!!


Bootdisk For BIOS Flashing

Bootdisk For BIOS Flashing

     Kay asks - I'm pretty good with PCs and I need to flash my bios
     so my computer can see and use larger hard drives. My Pentium 400
     currently has a 32 gig upper limit and I want to put in an 80 gig
     hard drive. I was informed by my motherboard makers website that
     I first needed to use a *clean* bootdisk first. Can I simply make
     one by going to DOS on my Windows 98 computer and doing a sys a:
     ?

     *** Yes, with some caveats. First, made sure that the bios flash
     program addresses your hard drive size limit. Motherboard makers
     and/or national brands may have updated bios's for download, but
     that doesn't necessarily mean they will address the issue you
     have. For example on some older Dells and other brands I've
     worked on that had your problem an upgrade flash program was
     available but they didn't include an update for larger drives.

     Secondly, on the off chance that you have an older drive in your
     system that was doublespaced you certainly dont want the
     drvspace.bin file loading which can mess up a bios flash. You
     can, of course, delete drvspace.bin after you make the boodisk.
     It's a hidden file so you'll have to use the attrib command from
     the windows\command folder to unhide it first with the command
     attrib -h -r -s drvspace.bin then you can delete it. Or of course
     you can delete it using windows explorer if you have [view all
     file types set].

     Thirdy. Make sure you use a brand new floppy disk and that your
     A: drive is clean and working properly before you start. Blow it
     out with compressed air and/or do a cleaning with a cleaning kit
     first if it hasn't been used in a while.

     Fourth. Dont ignore the backup option for your current bios that
     should come with the flash utility.

     Fifth. Read the docs. If they say they recommend that you set
     your bios to defaults before you flash then do it. If you have
     your hard drive parameters set manually tho ie sectors, heads,
     LBA, Large, etc. record them first.

     Six. Generally, its usual to put the utils you need to flash on
     the bootdisk. If you use an MS win98 bootdisk tho made by using
     the sys a: command you'll already have 376,000 bytes used. A
     better flash bootdisk is available however that only uses 119,000
     bytes and is pretty much the standard for booting up with these
     days before you flash.

     It's a disk I made four years ago and many large motherboard
     makers like Abit have it available for download:

     ftp://ftp.abit.com.tw/pub/download/utilities/drdos/drdflash.exe

 Alternate download URLs:

   
     http://download.sudhian.com/faq/kt7/downloads/Misc/drdflash.exe

     http://ftp.sanguine.jp/pub/sahughes/utils/dos/drdflash.exe

     http://herrie.rpc1.org/downloads/drdflash.exe


     Download the file, put a brand new floppy disk in your A: drive,
     then click on the file which will create the disk.

Reference:
BootLIST 163
Date: 6/11/2004  



[Lockergnome Windows Digest] Progressive Drums and the Minesweeper  
Date: 3/30/2002 12:15:32 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: subscriptions@lockergnome.com

BIOS Central

http://www.bioscentral.com/


"Welcome to BIOS Central. My goal here is to provide the most
comprehensive PC BIOS information on the Internet. It's going to
take a lot of work and time to do it all. As I am the only one
working on this site, updates are slow to come. Please understand
that I work on this site as a hobby. I am not paid, nor do I
receive any income from it. If there is something that you would
like to see added or have suggestions on the site, please e-mail
me. The original purpose of this site was to document PC BIOS Post
Codes because the manufacturers of these BIOS haven't provided
adequate documentation. However, I have decided to expand this
site to include more details about the BIOS and how it works in a
PC. Also, I'm attempting to branch out some and include other
information as well. Operating systems and hardware."


[langalist] LangaList Standard Edition 2003-05-15  
Date: 5/14/2003 9:31:45 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Huge Library Of Drivers/BIOS Updates/Etc.

     Hi Fred, This French site (English translation available
     onsite) has a huge base of BIOS files, drivers, firmware,
     utilities, service packs etc. Always good to have in your
     favorites list for a rainy day.

   http://www.station-drivers.com



     ---Eran

Thanks, Eran! the site is quite comprehensive and very active: On just
the day I visited, 24 new files (video card drivers, CD drivers, etc.)
and BIOS "flash" updates were posted. This wasn't an aberration---
nineteen had been posted the day before. Nice!

***************************************************************



[langalist] LangaList Standard Edition 2003-05-29  
Date: 5/28/2003 9:21:57 PM Pacific Daylight Time

BIOS Updating

"Bad Flashers" And BIOS Updating

In the last issue, one item made it sound like we were talking about
Mickey Mouse flipping the bird. Now, this item makes it sound like we're
talking about evil guys in raincoats. But relax--- that's not it at all:

     I wanted to thank you for including the information about our
     website

     http://www.badflash.com/


 in

     http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2002/2002-07-25.htm#5



     You might want to do something on the advantages and downside
     of bios updating. We deal with all sorts of bios related
     problems.... we've been at this since February of 2000 and
     have recovered 10's of thousands of dead computers. I
     personally have been computing since the mid '70s starting
     with my Comac Elf, then a Sinclair ZX-80 both from kits.

     We don't write code, but are pretty familiar with the mistakes
     people make and what to do about them. What we do is program
     files available from the board makers into chips that work on
     those boards. There is now a bewildering variety of different
     kinds of chips and they are not interchangeable for a variety
     of hardware and software reasons. We also have a 18 GB library
     of old bios files and support most popular boards from the
     past that are no longer supported. Most people don't realize
     that bios chips, at least old ones, can just wear out. We fix
     that all the time with old motherboards.

     The current problem in the industry is related to the Nvidia
     chipset boards like on the ASUS A7N8X, which is our #1 "Bad
     Flasher" at the moment. ---Jack Rowland

In general, with BIOS flashing, I lean towards the "if it ain't
broke..." model. If new BIOS code will fix a bug I'm experiencing, or am
likely to experience, then I'll go ahead and update the BIOS. But if the
new BIOS code simply adds a feature I don't need, then I skip it.

To use a classic example, it makes perfect sense to upgrade the BIOS of
an old machine that cannot recognize today's large hard drives. This is
a clear and obvious benefit. But if new BIOS code adds (say) support for
some new brand or model of CPU, and I have no intention of ever changing
the CPU in the system, then why install the new code? In this latter
case, I'd leave things alone.

Don't update a BIOS just because an update happens to be available. See
what's in any given BIOS update, and then decide based on need and
delivered benefit.



Upgrading Flash BIOS 219863

was trying to upgrade the Flash BIOS on my computer,following
the instructions from Smart Computing article March '03 p.78. Everything was working,and the update to Bios was put on an IBM formatted floppy disc. When restarting computer,I got this screen message: "Non system disc or disc error. Replace and press any key when ready". Would anyone know what this means and how to repair so I
caninstall the upgrade? I have a Dell Dimension 4400 with Windows XP.

Berton,
I followed your advice in Question#219877 and everything worked
perfectly. Thanks for the help

Message #: 219877From: BertonSent: 2/22/2003 10:03 AM
A.      The floppy disk has to be made bootable. You will need to put it in a Win98 computer, go to My Computer, right-click the A: drive and choose Format, then Copy System files only. You could even do it in WinXP by choosing Create an MS-DOS Startup disk.


Flashing BIOS 220734

Instructions for flashing BIOS says to use pure DOS and work from the C:/ or A:/ prompt. The problem is I'm running WinXP Home that doesn't have DOS.

I know I'm supposed to boot up into DOS but this isn't possible with XP. Is there any other way of flashing my BIOS ?

As mentioned, do it with a bootable floppy disk. Can use one from Win98. Don't worry about not being able to see an NTFS-formatted hard drive from Win2000/XP, don't need to. I use the command in a DOS window of sys a:, then copy the BIOS flash applet and file to it and boot the computer to the floppy. Usually can't flash the BIOS from within Windows but have heard some of the very newest motherboards allow it.

A.      Create a shortcut icon with the target:%SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exeThis will give you the C:\ prompt for dos commands.To return to windows type "exit" and the C:\ prompt.
            

**********************************************************

Upgrading Flash BIOS

I was trying to upgrade the Flash BIOS on my computer,following
the instructions from Smart Computing article March '03 p.78. Everything was working,and the update to Bios was put on an IBM formatted floppy disc. When restarting computer,I got this screen message: "Non system disc or disc error. Replace and press any key when ready". Would anyone know what this means and how to repair so I
caninstall the upgrade? I have a Dell Dimension 4400 with Windows XP.


Berton,
I followed your advice in Question#219877 and everything worked
perfectly. Thanks for the help.
The floppy disk has to be made bootable. You will need to put it in a Win98 computer, go to My Computer, right-click the A: drive and choose Format, then Copy System files only. You could even do it in WinXP by choosing Create an MS-DOS Startup disk.


Message #: 219877

From: BertonSent: 2/22/2003 10:03 AM
A.      The floppy disk has to be made bootable. You will need to put it in a Win98 computer, go to My Computer, right-click the A: drive and choose Format, then Copy System files only. You could even do it in WinXP by choosing Create an MS-DOS Startup disk.
            


Message #: 220734Subject: Flashing BIOSFrom: JOHNSent: 2/24/2003 1:37 PM
Q.      Instructions for flashing BIOS says to use pure DOS and work from the C:/ or A:/ prompt. The problem is I'm running WinXP Home that doesn't have DOS. I know I'm supposed to boot up into DOS but this isn't possible with XP. Is there any other way of flashing my BIOS ?
Message #: 220836From: BertonSent: 2/24/2003 5:21 PM
A.      As mentioned, do it with a bootable floppy disk. Can use one from Win98. Don't worry about not being able to see an NTFS-formatted hard drive from Win2000/XP, don't need to. I use the command in a DOS window of sys a:, then copy the BIOS flash applet and file to it and boot the computer to the floppy. Usually can't flash the BIOS from within Windows but have heard some of the very newest motherboards allow it.
            

 

Message #: 220749From: OldJackSent: 2/24/2003 2:50 PM
A.      Create a shortcut icon with the target:%SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exeThis will give you the C:\ prompt for dos commands.To return to windows type "exit" and the C:\ prompt.
            

 

Message #: 220739From: fischySent: 2/24/2003 1:50 PM
A.      XP does actually have DOS, it's just not based on DOS like earlier versions of Windows (at least this is how I understand it) You should be able to flash your BIOS in the same way (Create a boot disc with the file on it, ect..). Here is a link to a Forum with a lot of good info on flashing BIOS and a lot of smart people who can help you.http://www.asusboards.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=9
            




Question Title: flash bios under windows xp
Author: krueger2
Points: 50
Date: 10/03/2003 03:24AM PDT
 


I am trying to update the bios version on my motherboard. the computer is running win xp.

I was told to copy the flash program and the new bios file to an empty folder on the hard disk, say, c:\temp, then reboot the computer into ms-dos, by using a startup floppy disk (which can be created by format-create ms-dos startup disk).

the problem is, once rebooted using the startup disk, it can only see files on A:, it can't access C: drive. so I can't go to c:\temp to do the BIOS update. and I was told NOT to flash the bios from floppy disk. I am stuck here.


Comment from krueger2                 
Date: 10/03/2003 03:21PM PDT

      
Ok, here's what I ended up doing:

1)      write the flash program and the new bios file to CD.
2)      2) boot the computer with a win98 startup disk. select "boot with CD-ROM support". there's a message saying C: drive can't be accessed. It's OK, I don't need to.
3)      3) go to d: drive, where the files in step 1) are stored. and flash the bios from there.
   
It worked!

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/WinXP/Q_20756022.html


A Better BIOS

Smart Computing Magazine Article


Upgrade Your BIOS For Better PC Performance

http://www.smartcomputing.com/editorial/article.asp?article=articles%2F2003%2Fs1403%2F22s03%2F22s03%2Easp&guid=6id4g400&searchtype=0&WordList=flashing+a+bios






How do I save and restore my BIOS settings.


BIOS1310.zip is available as freeware at:

 http://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/13599.html


 and it works at a MS-DOS level. Check it out.


BIOS v1.31.0

   http://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/13599.html



BIOS v1.31.0 - What it does:
- Save and restore the BIOS settings
- Delete the BIOS settings
- Display information about the BIOS, BIOS Extensions and BIOS
beepcodes
- Find BIOS passwords for Award and Ami BIOS
- Find BIOS universal passwords for Award BIOS
- Dump the whole BIOS segment to disk
- Switch the 1st and 2nd level caches on/off
- Turn off the PC (requires APM 1.2+)

Special requirements: None.

bios1310.zip has replaced bios1293.zip.

Freeware. Uploaded by the author.

Matthias Bockelkamp

mbockelkamp@hotmail.com

http://www.geocities.com/mbockelkamp/


BIOS Update: Not As Scary As It Seems

LangaList Plus  2004-02-09

Fred, I recently built a computer with the Intel D865PERL motherboard and the ATI All in Wonder 9600 Pro Graphics card with remote. Both items were new in 2003 so they have minor problems. I'm supposed to flash the BIOS for the Motherboard so I contacted Intel to see if I could simply purchase a new updated  BIOS. They said no. I don't want to go through the process. Could you sometime write an article on firms that will copy a BIOS and sell it to an end user? Thanks. ---Gary Bloomquist
There are many places to get replacement BIOSes, but let's step back for a minute: Years ago, updating a BIOS was nerve-wracking, but today it's easy and usually quite safe. It also usually only takes literally a minute or two to complete.
The BIOS--- the Basic Input-Output System--- in a PC is low-level code that controls what happens when a PC is first turned on, before the operating system loads. When the PC wakes up, the BIOS code lets the PC figure out how much RAM it has, what drives are available, and so on; and then the BIOS finds the "boot device" (usually your hard drive), loads the operating system, and then more or less recedes into the background while the operating system is in control.
The BIOS code is stored in a chip that contains a small amount of very rugged, semi-permanent memory that normally retains its data even when the PC is turned off. However, this memory can be erased and re-written. This process is called "flashing," and the memory is sometimes called "flash memory."
Interesting aside #1: Today, flash memory is usually erased and reprogrammed electrically, like any other chip. But it's called "flashing" because the early versions of this kind of memory used ultraviolet light as the energy source to erase the stored data. You'd remove the chip, and place it in a special device that would shine a bright flash of UV light inside the chip (flash chips actually had little quartz windows built into them for this purpose!). The UV light would reset the chip and make it ready to store new code.
Interesting aside #2: The current Mars rovers use a kind of electrically-programmable flash memory to store some of their data and software. The rover "Spirit" had a problem with its flash memory, which NASA cured by erasing and reprogramming the memory from 100 million miles away! If NASA can do it under those conditions, surely you can do it on your desktop! <g>
To update a BIOS, you download special software from the system vendor, motherboard maker, or BIOS maker's site. Usually, the software creates a boot floppy for you, although sometimes, you have to create a boot floppy on your own first. (The vendor's instructions will tell you exactly what's needed.)
You then start your PC, using the special boot floppy. The software usually does a basic compatibility check to make sure it's being run on the right kind of PC and BIOS; and then starts the flashing process. First, it electrically erases the old BIOS information. Then, it burns in the new code. It usually only takes a minute or two.
When you're done, you remove the floppy and reboot. The PC then wakes up, and usually takes you into the BIOS setup software so you can make sure everything's set up just the way you want.
There are only two major trouble areas you really need to watch out for. First--- and this is pretty obvious--- you need to make sure you're using the right flash code for your motherboard and BIOS. Your system or motherboard or BIOS vendor will have all the tools and info you need to make sure you get the right upgrade.
The second main concern is a loss of power midway through the flash process. If the power went out before the flash was complete,  it might leave your PC half-programmed and unbootable. But (1) it's very low odds in the first place and (2) you can negate even this small risk through the use of an uninterruptible power supply.

Assuming you employ the usual safeguards--- make a backup first!--- flashing a BIOS takes only a couple minutes and isn't hard. Over the years, I've probably flashed 15 or 20 BIOSes, and have never had a serious problem.

But if you want a new BIOS, or if something does go wrong and you need a replacement, there are plenty of sources:
http://www.google.com/search?q=bios+replacement

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by:zkrieger
ID: 13424417
no, there is no standards for BIOSes to update them. there are many manufacturers, and OEMs also edit the bioses to not work the same as the provider.

so no, you cant write a script that would work for more than one motherboard type/model.
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Expert Comment

by:sciwriter
ID: 13425156
Correct, the answer is NO, there is no standard.  Some motherboards need you to run a DOS floppy BIOS update, and will not work any other way -- i.e. you trash the BIOS.  Others will NOT work with a DOS update to the BIOS -- i.e. you trash the BIOS if you use the wrong utility.

Always read the MFG instructions for each motherboard -- ALWAYS.

BIOS flashing is not something to be taken lightly, OR automated.  FAR FAR too risky !!!
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by:SoyYop
ID: 13428496
I think LRI41 information would be more confusing than helpfull... is a copy/paste from generic information. And probably only a 1% applies to you, if at all.

Wich motherboard do you have? (or brand/model)

As sciwriter saids, there is no standar. But I think is simple if you have a standar motherboard with manufacturer support, like intel, assus, acer, dell, hp, etc. Their utilities checks the motherboard brand and mothel, so is safer to do.

Good luck,
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by:LRI41
ID: 13429744
SoyYop
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by:SoyYop
ID: 13430062
Still think the same...
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by:Callandor
ID: 13432867
Folks, let's just stick to answering the question, shall we?
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Author Comment

by:jinumjoy
ID: 13436069
I agree... :)))

thanks for all the information guys..

-Jinu
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by:mysticaldan
ID: 13436471
I agree that what tmj883 said was probably right but i believe that others including me have given more in depth answers to your question. I think that a point split shud have been fair. In case the next person comes reading this PAQ i think he wud like to know why and how that is true. Also you gave the question a grade of B, is there anything missing from the answers that doesnt satisfy you completely??

In case u wud wanna reassign points do the following :
Leave a zero-point question in Community Support ( http://www.experts-exchange.com/Community_Support ) explaining what happened. The Moderators will "unaccept" your selection and re-open the question.

Dan
 
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