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1.3 BIOS

This BIOS guide will help you to understand the various settings in your motherboards BIOS. It is filled with with a lot of very useful information.

BIOS settings Guide

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:57:47

When you overclock, the power consumption of the processor goes up and you may find yourself with an unstable system. Raising the voltage of the CPU a fraction at a time until the system is stable is the best way to achieve this stability. Too much voltage and you run the risk of permanently damaging the processor.

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:58:17

BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System.

All computer hardware has to work with software through an interface. The BIOS gives the computer a little built-in starter kit to run the rest of softwares from floppy disks (FDD) and hard disks (HDD). The BIOS is responsible for booting the computer by providing a basic set of instructions. It performs all the tasks that need to be done at start-up time: POST (Power-On Self Test, booting an operating system from FDD or HDD). Furthermore, it provides an interface to the underlying hardware for the operating system in the form of a library of interrupt handlers. For instance, each time a key is pressed, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) perform an interrupt to read that key. This is similar for other input/output devices (Serial and parallel ports, video cards, sound cards, hard disk controllers, etc...). Some older PC's cannot co-operate with all the modern hardware because their BIOS doesn't support that hardware. The operating system cannot call a BIOS routine to use it; this problem can be solved by replacing your BIOS with an newer one, that does support your new hardware, or by installing a device driver for the hardware.

Q: Well, I see that the BIOS is necessary for the computer, but what can I do with it?
A: You can change hardware configurations that are stored in the CMOS, or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor.

To perform its tasks, the BIOS need to know various parameters (hardware configuration). These are permanently saved in a little piece (64 bytes) of CMOS RAM (short: CMOS). The CMOS power is supplied by a little battery, so its contents will not be lost after the PC is turned off. Therefore, there is a battery and a small RAM memory on board, which never (should...) lose its information. The memory was in earlier times a part of the clock chip, now it's part of such a highly Integrated Circuit (IC). CMOS is the name of a technology which needs very low power so the computer's battery is not too much in use.
Your PC's performance can be highly affected by the CMOS settings. The reason for this is that the CMOS setup allows you to specify how fast your computer reads from memory, whether or not your cache is enabled or disabled, whether or not your CPU's cache is enabled or disabled, how fast your PCI bus communicates with its adaptor cards, plus a lot more. For more information on optimizing these performance settings/

Additionally, the CMOS setup allows you to specify disk drive and memory configuration. In order for your hard drive to work with your system, it must be configured in the CMOS setup. The exception to that rule is SCSI drives with adaptor cards, as most have their own built in BIOS. Floppy drives can be setup in the CMOS as well; a: can be made to be b: in many systems, and other configuration options can be changed as well.

Q: So how do I change the configuration that is saved in the CMOS?
A: By utilizing a set of menus called the CMOS Setup.

Setup is the set of procedures enabling the configure a computer according to its hardware caracteristics. It allows you to change the parameters with which the BIOS configures your chipset. The original IBM PC was configured by means of DIP switches buried on the motherboard. Setting PC and XT DIP switches properly was something of an arcane art. DIP switches/jumpers are still used for memory configuration and clock speed selection. When the PC-AT was introduced, it included a battery powered CMOS memory which contained configuration information. CMOS was originally set by a program on the Diagnostic Disk, however later clones incorporated routines in the BIOS which allowed the CMOS to be (re)configured if certain magic keystrokes were used.
Unfortunately as the chipsets controlling modern CPUs have become more complex, the variety of parameters specifiable in SETUP has grown. Moreover, there has been little standardization of terminology between the half dozen BIOS vendors, three dozen chipset makers and large number of motherboard vendors. Complaints about poor motherboard documentation of SETUP parameters are very common.

To exacerbate matters, some parameters are defined by BIOS vendors, others bychipset designers, others by motherboard designers, and others by various combinations of the above. Parameters intended for use in Design and Development, are intermixed with parameters intended to be adjusted by technicians -- who are frequently just as baffled by this stuff as everyone else is. No one person or organization seems to understand all the parameters available for any given SETUP.

Q: Now that I know where to edit the CMOS options, how do I access this CMOS setup on my computer?
A: By entering a keystroke combination when the system is first booted.

When the system is powered on, the BIOS will perform diagnostics and initialize system components, including the video system. (This is self-evident when the screen first flicks before the Video Card header is displayed). This is commonly referred as POST (Power-On Self Test). Afterwards, the computer will proceed its final boot-up stage by calling the operating system. Just before that, the user may interrupt to have access to SETUP.
Usually, setup can be entered by pressing a special key combination (DEL, ESC, CTRL-ESC, or CTRL-ALT-ESC) at boot time (Some BIOSes allow you to enter setup at any time by pressing CTRL-ALT-ESC). The AMI BIOS is mostly entered by pressing the DEL key after resetting (CTRL-ALT-DEL) or powering up the computer. You can bypass the extended CMOS settings by holding the key down during boot-up. This is really helpful, especially if you bend the CMOS settings right out of shape and the computer won't boot properly anymore. This is also a handy tip for people who play with the older AMI BIOSes with the XCMOS setup. It allows changes directly to the chip registers with very little technical explanation.

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:58:46

In order to update BIOS you have to have a flash program.
Usually it is supplied by the motherboard manufacturer and
is available from their website. Along with the latest
version of the BIOS for the motherboard in a file, usually xxx.BIN although it may be called something else.

However in almost every case they will advise you to boot into DOS and run their loader program to flash/update the BIOS.

One way to do it:

Copy their loader and BIOS update to a blank floppy.

Make sure that your BIOS is set to boot from A: first.

Put in a bootable DOS diskette in Drive A: and boot.

Swap out the DOS diskette, put in the BIOS update disk
and run the update program.

If you don't have a DOS disk this is how you can make one:

Download this program DOS622.EXE

Put a formatted floppy in the A: drive.

Run the downloaded program

You now have a bootable DOS diskette.

It's also a good idea to read any instructions on the manufacturers website.

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:58:29

In most cases, you should aim for a High Front Side Bus (FSB) with a lower multi. The higher the FSB, the more RAM bandwidth there is.

Having the lowered multi allows for extremely high FSB which a default multi might not be able to handle.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • 44

    2007-09-24 02:58:08

by drew See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2007-09-24 09:34:49

A step by step guide to making a bootable pen drive usable for flashing bioses can be found here

After many flashes across my Seti farm, I dreaded every bios flash I had to do. First, most are run barebones, headless, no cases, let alone floppy drives. Second, for quite some time I've had to format and install the bios files on the same floppy drive that I am to flash to. Got too many read errors using the floppy on my main box, then using another floppy that I would bring to one of the many blades in my Seti farm, either here or at the warehouse.

Having to get a larger pen drive to shuttle work units to and from the warehouse left me with an extra 128MB pen drive. It occurred to me that I could use it to flash from if I could get it to be bootable.

There I was hung up, did a little searching and asked a couple of people how to get the pen drive to be bootable. Couldn't quite get it done, so I shelved the idea for a bit until I happened to ask MikeC from the Seti forum, while we were idling in the Starfire IRC channel. He came up with a link to a thread in a Dell forum that walked someone all the way through the process. (thanks, Mike!!!)

So here's a simplified version of setting up a drive to be bootable. There are many variations to this procedure, but this is the one I used.

First, get a Windows 98 boot disk. Disconnect your hdd's and any other IDE drives you have for this step. Plug in your pen drive, and boot from the Windows 98 boot disk.

Once booted, your C: drive should be your USB pen drive, since you disconnected your IDE drives. This is important!

Run fdisk from the Windows 98 boot disk, checking to make sure the disk you are modifying is the pen drive. Very easy to mistake a hdd for it, and lose all the data! In fdisk, delete all partitions on the pendrive and create a new one (or several if you prefer).

Once you have your partition made, make it active with fdisk. This is where I was hung up originally, for fdisk will only make the partition in C: drive active! This is the main reason for unplugging all you IDE drives, so your pen drive will show up in DOS as C:. Making the pen drive active is the crucial step in creating a boot disk, without it, it's not a bootable drive.

So now we need some DOS files to run when it boots. Again, there are many options here, this is the method I used. While still in DOS, after you've fdisked the pen drive and made it active, format the drive using the command "format C: /S" That command will format the drive, then place the DOS system files on the drive, making a plain, clean boot disk, no ramdisks or cd drivers, etc.

From there, I took the pen drive to my main rig, dropped the award flash file and the xxxx.bin file I wanted to flash with in the same folder as the DOS system files. Then took it over to the warehouse, plugged it into the blade I wanted to flash, got into bios to change the boot order to USB-HDD first. Restarted, booted into DOS, typed "awdflash.exe xxxxx.bin", and I was off to the races....

So there you have it. I can finally do away with a floppy drive forever. They'll all go in the junk box on the shelves...... hasta lavista....baby!!

by paul See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:56:43

PCI Dividers, are used to keep your PCI bus, and you AGP bus in spec. For example, most dividers today are 1/4 of your FSB. So if your FSB is 133mhz (or 266 DDR) than you PCI bus is 33 Mhz.

The AGP buses are 1/2 of the FSB buses. PCI dividers mainly come into play when you're overclocking. The higher you overclock, the higher the PCI and AGP buses become. This only happens if your overclock with your FSB, this doesn't happen when you use multiplier overclocking.

So PCI and AGP dividers are used to keep those buses in spec, so they work like they're supposed too.

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 13:58:02

Have you ever wondered what the MPS Control Version For OS and K7 CLK_CTL Select settings in your bios do? Ever wondered what bios settings would make your computer that much faster?

Check out the RojakPot bios guide (scroll down to find free entrance)

by Exit See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-12 12:52:02

here is a way to reprogram the Bios Chip if it gets corrupted.

If your system has a Corrupted Bios and won't Post this will work.. It is Mainly Called "hot Flashing"

1. Remove the corrupted Bios chip from the motherboard.

2. Find somebody or another Mobo with the same style socket and boot that system to windows or Dos depending on which flash program you are using.

3. while the system is running, pull the bios Chip out and install the corrupted Bios chip into the Motherboard.

4. Now start your Flash program and do the following depending which program you are using:

a: If you are using an Abit MOBO and flashmenu to do it, you must check out the "Ignore BIOS partnumber check" which is located under "Advanced setting", or else the flashmenu will stop cause the bios differs with the MOBO.

b: If using a Dos App, Use the -f parameter to force the program to Program the chip..

c: If using Winflash, It will give you a Bios ID error and tell it to ignore it. also make sure to have it clear and program all areas.

5. reprogram the chip. When it finishes, Do not have the system reboot.

6. Pull the Bios chip out and Install the original back into the Motherboard you were using to program the chip. then use the system as normal..

7. Reinstall the reprogrammed chip back into it's socket and go from there..

NOTE: if you don't do this right, it could be disastrous to the Mobo you are using to reprogram the chip.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • yes this works on dip32(rectangle with 16 pins on the 2 longer sides) and plcc32 chips (square chip with a cut corner; 8 pins per side).... notes: compatibility can sometimes be an issue, also make sure both bios are the same voltage; if using dos, use uniflash when when possible... This may not work on a lot of Intel mobo's as this requires a raw dump which intel doesn't normally provide...

    2011-05-22 22:37:59

  • did this work for anyone???

    2008-02-13 07:42:19

by NutCase4 See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-14 20:02:56