bios chips

Basic Input Output System(Owned by BIOSMAN Inc.)

What is the Basic Input Output System (BIOS)? This site is dedicated to answering that and other BIOS related questions. Every computer has a BIOS. Every BIOS outputs the POST (Power On Self test). Your computer cannot function without a BIOS. Knowing about the BIOS is key to understanding your computer and making it perform at its optimal capabilities.

What is the Basic Input Output System (BIOS)?

BIOS explained

BIOS is an acronym for Basic Input Output System. It is the program that stores configuration details about your computer hardware and enables your computer to boot up. Every time your computer is switched on the BIOS loads configuration data into main memory, performs a routine diagnostic test on your hardware, then loads the operating system.

The BIOS resides in a ROM (Read-Only memory) chip, which is mounted on the motherboard, usually in a socket so it is removable.To the right is an example of what a BIOS chip may look like in your motherboard. This is a PLCC 32 pin type BIOS chip. It is a very common type. More information on BIOS chips can be found at bioschip.com

Every computer has BIOS. There are many types but the most common type of BIOS 's come from: AMI, Award and Phoenix. Motherboard manufacturers buy or lease the BIOS source code from these companies.

bios chip
The BIOS tells the operating system in your computer how to boot up, where to load everything, what to load, whats memory and CPU are present and much much more.
bios and the brain

A good comparison to further understand the functionality of the BIOS would be to say that the BIOS is the Computer equivilant of the human hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and sugar levels in the blood. It is the subconscious nervous system sometimes it's called the brain of the brain.

In a PC we all know that the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain. Well the BIOS is the CPU's brain. Without a Hypothalamus you will die. Without a BIOS your PC is a paper weight.

The BIOS is programmed on an EEPROM. We refer to them as BIOS chips. Other names you may hear are: Firmware Hub, CMOS, ROM Chip IC, Flash Rom and I am sure there are a few more! If you want a common term for all these itesm when refering to motherboards, BIOS chip is the the most common term used.

Here are all the terms mentioned above with a description of what they actaully mean:

CMOS =(complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) A semiconductor technology that uses less power and generates less heat (enabling higher circuit density) than bipolar semiconductor technologies

Firmware = A category of memory chips that hold their content without electrical power. They include read-only memory (ROM), programmable ROM (PROM) and electronically erasable PROM (EEPROM) technologies. Firmware becomes "hard software" when holding program code. The contents are generally permanent or semipermanent control coding implemented at a microinstruction level for an application program, instruction set, operating routine or similar user-oriented function. NOTE: Intel calls their BIOS chips Firmware Hubs.

EEPROM= (electrically erasable programmable ROM)
A type of programmable read-only memory (ROM) that can be erased or updated using electrical signals, a process often performed remotely.

ROM =(read-only memory) Data stored in computer memory that can be accessed and read by the user, but not modified. ROM is often permanent, and stores system control software.

flash memory=A nonvolatile storage chip that enables easy electrical erasability and reprogramming, often used to remotely update routers or modems with new versions of software.

IC= (integrated circuit)An assembly of electronic circuits contained on a single piece of semiconductor material.

So, a BIOS chip is an IC, CMOS, EEPROM, Flash memory , Firmware chip that holds software called the BIOS. The BIOS is programmable via software (flash programs such as AMIFLASH, AWDFLASH, PHLASH or Uniflash. You can see a link to these programs here here: BIOS Flash utils.

For the person who still has no idea about the BIOS on your PC, notice when you first turn on your PC or laptop a few screens pop up. It might be a logo such as DELL or HP or ASUS, Tyan , AMI BIOS, AWARD BIOS etc. You might also see a memory count . This is all part of the POST (Power On Self Test). POST is a test the BIOS runs before it hands over control to the OS (Operating System). You can see more of the post if you disable the logo option in your BIOS. Otherwise just know that if you see a logo the POST is running. For more infor on the POST click here: Power On Self Test.. You can read all about the POST codes etc on that site.

Well eventually I will add some settings to help you optimize your BIOS but for now I'll finish with a recommendation. Do not flash your motherboard BIOS! If you feel you need to update your BIOS buy a pre programmed BIOS update chip from BIOSMAN.com. Flashing your BIOS is risky. If anything goes wrong while you're flashing it your motherboard / PC is now a paperweight! Click here to buy a BIOS Update Chip

There are two methods to update yiour BIOS chip:

1. Flash it (software method)

2. Program it with an EEPROM programmer. This is a hardware method . This is how we at BIOSMAN program sall our BIOS chips.

It is much more thorough than a flash. Think of it like a hard drive. if you "format c: / "a hard drive you wipe out all the contents Or do you? Not really. That data is still recoverable. if you really want to clean the drive or start with a fresh drive you write O's and 1's to it, this is also known as a low-level format . Utilities such as wipe.exe will accomplish this. If you don't low level format your HD before loading it or selling it then you have pretty much left all your old data on the drive. Flashing a BIOS chip is the same procedure. It basically writes on top of the data already on the BIOS chip. The Boot Block won't be written over unless you specify it to be but for some BIOS's you have to (See AMI BIOS flash)!! An EEPROM programmer wipes the chip clean before writing the new BIOS to it. This is just one reason why buying a new BIOS chip from us is preferable to flashing one yourself. Ok I sort of skipped oiver what a boot block is so let me cover that. The Boot block is a section of a BIOS chip that won't be programmed. It contains a small amount of information. For instance, in an AMI BIOS the boot block contains the AMIFLASH.exe flash program and some code to allow it to run if the "CTRL" and "Home" keys are pressed on the keyboard. It will basically recover your BIOS if the flash went bad. You can read about AMI BIOS recovery and AWARD BIOS recovery here: AMI BIOS and AWARD BIOS. Oh yeah if you're wondering why I left off the Phoenix BIOS recovery technique, well there isnt' one! That's just another reason to buy a BIOS chip vs. trying to flash one!

Ok so now hopefully you are convinced to not flash your BIOS using a software utility. You also don't want to buy an EEPROM programmer for $1500.00 so just fork out the $25.00 and buy yoiur new BIOS update from BIOSMAN.COM! Ok so i'm pushing our store on you but BIOSMAN came into existence for a reason. 100's of people buy BIOS's every month from us because their system is down due to a failed flash! Why not be pro active rather then re active? Think of it like having a spare battery for your flashlight. Why wait till a power outtage to realize your batteries are dead? Speaking of power outtage, one of the top reasons for a BIOS flash failure is that there is a power outtage or a break in power to the PC while the flash is in progress.. Just another for the 1000's of reasons why not to attempt a BIOS update yourself!

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DIP BIOS chip BIOS chips come in many flavors. On the left is a 32 pin DIP chip. These chips are usually 2Mb (256KB) in size. Some are 1Mb (128KB) but those are old and we hardly get orders for them. Below is what a PLCC chip looks like. This is the most common variety nowadays. They also come in many flavors, 128KB, 256KB, 512KB (4Mb) or the most popular and the largest today the 1MB (8Mb) chips
BIOSMAN programs all the types mentioned. Ok so lets get back to more BIOS basics. Why would you want to upgrade your BIOS? Here are the most common reasons: PLCC BIOS chip

1. large hard drive support. Older BIOS's couldn't see drives larger than 37GB due the 48bit problem.

2. New video card technology such as AGP 8X support, or in older machines 2X to 4X. Today the SLI support is a biggie

3. ACPI compatibility

4. CPU suppoirt. BIOS companies often release new CPU microcode updates to the motherboard companies who in turn add them to their BIOS's to support newer CPU's

5. Fix problems. The motherboard companies often release many BIOS's when a motherboard is first released. A common culprit is USB compatibility. There are so many USB devices nowadays and many of them try to use the same IRQ. Not a probllem when XP loads but as the system BIOS is loading, IRQ conflicts can cause your USB devices to not be found.

6. Memory support. Newer faster memory can have issues on your motherboard. Might be larger than what was originally tested or approved. A tweak from the motherboard company can fix that.

7. The most common reason. You update your BIOS because there is a BIOS update available! (OK i do this too!) You just can't stop yourself. Its sort if the same reason you have all the latest gadgets.

All are good reason to update your BIOS so buy one from us rather than flashing it! OK I will mention that a few more times but bare with me.

BEEPS

What are all those beeps that I hear when I turn my PC on? Ok thats a BIOS issue but I have a whole other website to cover beeps. The Beeps and POST codes are all related to the POST which was discussed earlier. Go to BIOS POST codes to read more.

Thanks for viewing.. send comments directly to me at: robert@biosman.com

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Thanks!

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