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since 16.9.2000

A7V Troubleshooting
Why the heck is there a tank ?!?

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RD1 BIOS Savior

The Problem

A problem with all A7V versions (even up to A7V333) that unfortunately is not uncommon, is malfunction after flashing BIOSes. This means that after a seemingly successful flash the PC simply won't boot, it would just sit there with a black screen.

This might be caused by either

  • A bad flash (meaning the BIOS contents are corrupted, mostly when flashing from windows - which is a bad idea in many people's opinion.)

  • Bad CMOS settings (sometimes this can be cured by clearing the CMOS, but sometimes you have to insert another CPU, go to jumper or jumperless mode, set mismatching or undocumented switch settings, or you simply can't get get it to work again)

  • In the special case of the ASUS A7V Series (from the classic A7V to the A7V333) there have been a lot of cases in the forum where flashing seemed to have been OK, but after reboot there was nothing but a black screen. While some of these cases could be resolved by clearing the CMOS, setting the multiplier or frequency DIP switches to undocumented settings or changing the CPU, many had to have their BIOS reprogrammed or the mainboard exchanged by their dealer.

If you have a non-socketed BIOS (e.g.. it is soldered onto the mainboard) then you are out of luck. All you can do is get your mainboard exchanged. Some A7V266, for example, were delivered with a soldered BIOS chip.

PLCC BIOS Soldered onto the mainboard

Socketed DIP BIOS

If it is socketed, you have some chances to recover:

  • Buy or borrow an other or new BIOS chip with a working BIOS version

  • Have your BIOS chip reprogrammed by a electronics shop or service

  • Do a "hot flash" with your bad BIOS chip in another PC

There are several ways how mainboard manufacturers try to help you recover after BIOS flashing has failed:

  • GigaByte has the DualBIOS, which lets you switch between two BIOSes. If one is malfunctioning, the working one can be copied to the non-working one. While this is really clever and handy, a second BIOS chip (or a bigger one) costs money...

  • AOpen basically had the same technology with their DieHard BIOS, simply a second socket for a BIOS chip.

  • MSI had the SafeBIOS 810, where a single BIOS chip housed two bios images. If one was corrupted, the other one could be activated. Operation and idea were similar to the DualBIOS.

  • Fujitsu Siemens Computers and some Intel mainboards have a Boot Block BIOS (Recovery BIOS). The Boot Block is an area in the Flash memory that is never ever touched and thus remains intact even after a failed flash. It contains a "mini-BIOS" which can do a minimal initialization and can boot from a diskette. There is a switch on the mainboard which lets you activate the Boot Block. So all you have to do is flip the switch and insert the BIOS flash bootdisk that you have previously downloaded from the Internet, the Boot Block then re-flashes the BIOS from the image on the disk and resets the CMOS settings to default.

  • Most AWARD BIOSes (including the A7V ones) have such a Boot Block, too. Unfortunately, the flash tools by ASUS and many others are not really clever - if the new BIOS contains a new Boot Block then it erases the complete BIOS and reprograms it - including the boot block. If something goes wrong during flash you are stranded without any means of recovery. Additionally, there is no switch with which you could manually activate this boot block. The BIOS itself has to determine if it is corrupt, and if yes, has to initiate the recovery procedure.
    Actually I only heared from very few people who have managed to recover using the standard AWARD BIOS Boot Block. Most people with A7Vs had their boards simply sitting there doing nothing. If the boot block had worked, the board would have tried to access drive A: ...

Browsing newsgroups I saw numerous people mention a device called RD1 BIOS Savior.

EksitData, a Swedish online shop, was so friendly to send one of these for testing. Actually they did so quite a long time ago, but only now I had enough time to finish this article. Sorry to you and to EksitData that it took so very long.

The RD1 Package

The RD1 basically is a second BIOS chip. You remove your chip, insert the RD1, and then insert your chip on top of the RD1. Via a switch (in a slot cover) you can choose which BIOS chip is used.

The RD1 is available in 6 different favors, depending on your BIOS chip.

Product BIOS Size Packaging Fits these Mainboards
RD1-1M 1Mbit DIP some 486, older Pentium
RD1-2M 2Mbit DIP A7V, A7V133 and many slightly older Pentium to Pentium III, Athlon etc.
RD1-PL 2Mbit PLCC A7V266 / A7V333 and many other recent Mainboards
RD1-LPC2 2Mbit PLCC As above, but for "SST49LF020" or "WINBOND 49V002"
RD1-8X 4Mbit PLCC Intel 8xx Chipset FirmwareHUB
RD1-8X2 2Mbit PLCC Intel 8xx Chipset FirmwareHUB

>> Next Page

Page1: The Problem
Page2: What you get / how it works
Page3: Testing / Conclusion
Page4: Addendum: Testing Procedure

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