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- where to find a bios upgrade
April 18, 2006, 3:49 am
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Re: where to find a bios upgrade
The important part isn't the bios string, it's the make and
manufacturor of your motherboard. (or whole computer if it's a big
OEM). You want to flash the bios to solve a problem, or maybe to
facilitate the upgrade to a newer CPU. It rarely improves performance.
Re: where to find a bios upgrade
I can find the BIOS string on this page, and the board is listed
as an ECS.
This is as close as I could get. If you go to www.ecs.com.tw
and try and find downloads, the K7VZAC part number doesn't show
up. I had to hack the source for the download web page, to get
an IP address of their site, then I tried FTP protocol with the
IP address and it worked. Still doesn't help though, because
K7VZAC is not explicitly listed. I really cannot tell you how
many variations of that basic motherboard they made, but it
must have been a ton of them, with 686, 686A, or 686B soldered
to the board. The K7VZA directory looks interesting.
Judging by the naming convention, there might be two streams
of motherboards in the K7VZA directory. I downloaded the
latest file from each series, extracting the modules inside
the files with splitawd. Decompressed the modules, and then
searched for your BIOS string in the largest module. These
are examples of what I found:
K7VZA37a ==> Awar01/12/2004-8363-686-K7VZAC-00000C-00
k7vza12e ==> Awar07/19/2001-8363-686-K7VZAC-00000C-00
Notice how "686A" is not mentioned. That bothers me, enough
to suggest you not try flashing it.
Now, the annoying part, is at the very end of the unextracted
BIOS file, there is also a string, and it says K7VZA. It is
possible the BIOS flashing tool, checks the K7VZA at the end
of the current BIOS and compares it to the string at the
end of the file you are trying to flash.
What I would recommend, is to get the flashing tool (awd820a),
and make a backup copy of the current BIOS file on your
motherboard. By analyzing the current contents of your BIOS
and comparing to the files for download in the ECS directory,
you may be able to match it that way.
Another way to do it, would be to attempt to blindly flash
sample files from the ECS FTP directory, and rely on the
flashing tool to be smart enough not to flash the wrong file.
If you had a BIOS Savior installed on the motherboard, maybe
that approach would make sense, but with the danger of
trasning the board due to the quality of the ECS tools
provided, it would be pretty risky otherwise. (You do
realize you can kill the board by flashing the BIOS...)
If you want to be a "BIOS hacker", start with this package.
SPLITAWD.EXE <-- Extracts modules from a BIOS file
LHA255E.EXE <-- self-extracting archive, containing LHA.EXE
decompression tool for BIOS modules
To use this tool, I typically do the following:
1) Create a new folder.
2) Download a BIOS file from a web site. Unzip it until the
BIOS file is ready to grab. The BIOS file should be an
exact power_of_two, like 262144 bytes or 512288 bytes and
so on. Move the BIOS file into the new folder.
3) Move the splitawd.exe program into the new folder. DO NOT
put LHA.EXE in the same folder! If you do, splitawd will
freeze the computer when you use it.
4) Fire up an MSDOS prompt window. CD to the folder, as in
5) Use splitawd, as in
6) There should be a new folder called $MCTEMP. In it are
some numbered files, as in 00000001.bin, sequentially
numbered. You could decompress these with
"lha x 00000001.bin"
by using the LHA.EXE program provided, but I recommend
dragging and dropping all the *.bin files on your favorite
universal decompression tool.
7) At this point, with the k7vza12e BIOS, I got:
These are uncompressed BIOS modules, the components inside
the BIOS file. The "splitawd" tool is not perfect, and in
this case, it did not find the sixth module (an antivirus
module). With experience, you can actually snip the modules
out of the BIOS file by hand, if you ever need to extract
all of them, so "splitawd" is just a good tool to teach you
where to snip. Notice how the vza12e.BIN file in $MCTEMP may
have the same name as the downloaded file (an unfortunate
choice on ECSes part), so be careful not to get it
mixed up with the "source". One file is twice as big as
the other, and the bigger file is the source BIOS file.
8) Take the largest module (vza12e.BIN) in $MCTEMP. On this
motherboard, the structure is very simple, so there are
only a small number of modules. The main BIOS code is in
the largest module. Toss vza12e.BIN into your hex editor.
Search for "K7VZAC" and you should find the BIOS string
that I listed above.
9) If you take the original BIOS file and toss it in the hex
editor, at the very end of the file, you'll see "K7VZA",
which may be what the flash tool checks before flashing
That is about all I know :-)
if you screw up the flash, there is always "badflash.com", but
that is only an option if the BIOS chip is socketed. If
the BIOS chip is soldered directly to the board, I would
NOT try to upgrade the BIOS, unless you want to shop for
a replacement motherboard in the near future.
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