flashing a bios, getting a message

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When I attempt to flash the Award bios on my new-to-me motherboard,
the numbers scroll up to 4000 (or 40,000?) and then I get the message

"[BIOS informatino in file]
Bios Version: A7v600  Boot block
Warning, continue to update BIOS (Y/N)?  N"

I've flashed once before, years ago, but don't remember getting a
message in the middle.  It sounds ominous.

Does this message mean something bad?

I said N and didn't do it.  Should I say Y the next time?

It now has Bios version 1006; and 1007 and 1008 and 1009Beta are
available on the WD website.  The notes for version 1007 say something
short about SATA drives, which is where I had my major problem before
today (see next paragraph) so that's why I thought flashing the bios
would be a good thing.  Yes?

Background:  A friend gave me an ASUS A7V600 mobo and two SATA drives
that he was no longer using (that I posted about a couple weeks ago.)
I couldn't try the HDs until I got SATA cables, which I got on Monday.
The reason I think the bios might need updating is that the computer
(the bios?) doesn't recognize these drives.  When I say auto, it just
doesn't find them, and when I manually set the parameters according to
what the WD site says, it says Primary Master Drive Failed, and
Primary Slave Drive Failed.

I have the drives connected with legacy power connectors, and one data
connector from each to SATA connectors on the mother board.  I don't
think I could have done that wrong, afaik.

To add insult to injury, after it fails to find the hard drives, then
it says "Hardware monitor found an error. Enter Power Setup Menu for
Details", but there are no details there.  That's the Power tab of the
bios setup menu, right?  I changed Power Management to disabled, but I
still get this last message.  Suspend Mode is also disabled, and has
been since the start.

I'm thinking all of this will go away if I can flash the bios, so
that's the most important question.


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for some reason, remove NOPSAM  :-)

Re: flashing a bios, getting a message


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I should add that when I first start the computer, it gives an ASUS
full screen splash screen, with the message: alt-F2 to flash bios.

At the top of that page it says: ASUS  EZ Flash v1.00  (c)2002

Then all I have to do is type in the name of the data file I put on
the floppy, A7V61008.awd, and press enter.

Sorry I left that out.

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If you are inclined to email me
for some reason, remove NOPSAM  :-)

Re: flashing a bios, getting a message

mm wrote:
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I think you've missed some critical points about your motherboard.

There are a couple ways to design Southbridge chips and disk interfaces.
Intel has chosen one approach, and VIA used a different approach.

The VT8237R Southbridge has two IDE ribbon cables. They control up
to 4 hard drives or ATAPI optical drives.

There are two SATA ports on the Southbridge as well. (At least on the
majority of KT600 chipset boards - it is possible there are actually a
couple more SATA ports on the chip, but to use them, SATA PHY chips must
be added to the motherboard. The PHY chips would add cost to the motherboard,
and push the motherboard out of its intended price range. So hardly any
motherboards include the extra ports, and only the two regular SATA
ports are present.)

The SATA ports are connected to a VT6420 logic block. This is the
same logic block as would be used in a separate VIA chip. Think of
the SATA ports, as being on a second chip which is glued to the
Southbridge. The second chip is logically independent of the
Southbridge, and is treated as such.

The main body of BIOS code, does not know about the SATA ports. In the
same way that a BIOS does not know about Promise or Highpoint RAID
controllers that have been added to a board. Notice that the BIOS
screen that lists the four IDE drives, does not have any lines on
the screen for the SATA ports. So the main BIOS code is not
expecting to ever display them.

To support independent hardware functions, such as the VT6420 logic
block, the BIOS has the concept of an "add-in" BIOS module. In this
case, a RAID BIOS module is included. If you go into the BIOS, and
enable the RAID module, then press the <tab> key the next time
the computer is POSTing, the VIA RAID screen will appear in the BIOS.
See section 3.4.2 in the User Manual, for a picture of the RAID
BIOS screen.

You should see your two SATA drives, listed in the RAID BIOS screen.
You set up the array, like RAID 0 or RAID 1, while in that screen.
(But see the last paragraph of this posting, before you do anything.)

If your OS is already installed, now you need to go back into Windows,
and install the VIA RAID driver. For example, this is the 220D
version of the driver package (7MB+). You can get this from the
Asus download page for your board.


When that software is installed, you will have the necessary
driver for the RAID array. Now, if you go into Disk Management
in Windows, you should see a single volume listed, for the two
RAID disks.

I hope you haven't screwed up the motherboard, by flashing the
BIOS. You have to be careful to download the correct BIOS file
for the board.

The number scrolling up to 40000 is 40000 hex or 0x40000. In decimal,
that is 262144 bytes or 256KB. If I check your user manual, the
"A7V600 Specification Summary" says the ROM size is 2 megabits.
If I divide that number by 8, I get the expected 256KB size.
So the flash program is doing what it is supposed to. The
expected prompts you should see on the screen, are actually
listed in the User Manual. "Update Boot Block Area" is one
of the prompts, and you don't have to do that if you don't want

Does the board still POST ? Have you ruined it ?

If you cannot get the board to POST any more, and EZ-Flash
(alt F2) has stopped working, you can always go to
www.badflash.com and order a replacement BIOS chip.
It would cost you about $25 for a new chip plus the
programming of the chip with whatever version of BIOS
file you want to use.

Probably a question you have is, "can I run the SATA ports in
non-RAID mode?". The answer you seek, is on the last page of
this document. Don't set up an array in the RAID BIOS screen,
if you just want to use two SATA disks as separate disks.
After installing the RAID driver, chances are you'd see two
volumes in Disk Management.


(Another VIA Southbridge uses this manual.)


Re: flashing a bios, getting a message


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Re: flashing a bios, getting a message

Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.   It helps a lot.

I didnt' know this stuff before, and although I had looked at the
related part of the mobo manual, I didn't appreciate what it was

This enabled me to get it.  ;-)

I didn't complete the BIOS flash because of the warning it gave.
Everything is the same as it was.

I missed the suggestion to push <tab>, but I did today and the RAID
portion of Setup showed up.  I also downloaded the software (to
another computer), and downloaded and read the two URLs you had

So now I think I would like to set up a RAID 1 array, but the manual
keeps warning me that all the data will be destroyed in the process of
making the array.  But the two SATA drives I have, same model, were
used as part of an array before.

Is it possible to REconnect two SATA drives and REestablish an array
between them without destroying any data?

IIUC, they should have the same data on each.  I don't know which was
the actual boot drive and which was the backup.

Does it matter if this was the same model mobo that they had been
connected to originally?

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Re: flashing a bios, getting a message

mm wrote:
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If the drives were in RAID 1 before, then they should have identical
user data on them. There should not be a notion of a "backup", in
the sense that one disk is inferior to the other. The disks have
equal value from a user perspective. For a RAID 1, you should be
able to use either disk by itself (i.e. array is broken).

RAID arrays use a "reserved sector" which contains metadata about
the array type, which disk is which, and the metadata allows the
disks to be moved on the ports of the controllers, without a problem.
If your controller had two SATA ports for example, you could swap
the disks between those ports, and the controller could figure it all

RAID arrays cannot generally be moved between controller types safely.
If you had an array on a Promise controller, you are supposed to be
able to move to another Promise controller with the array. But I haven't
heard any broad sweeping statements about other brands. In general,
you should assume incompatibility, rather than compatibility.

(My only experience with this, is moving a disk from a Southbridge,
to a Promise controller. My first partition disappeared when I did
that. The partition was visible when the disk went back on the
Southbridge. Thus, when moving a disk from a Southbridge, to some
other kind of controller, I cannot guarantee that the disk will not
be affected in some way, from a user perspective. Fortunately for
me, the disk was a data disk, and the OS did not try to do anything
to the disk.)

Your best transfer mechanism, is backup and restore to a third disk.
Why is this desirable ? Because, if both disks in the RAID 1 mirror
are damaged, you have no backup. If your power supply overvolts the
12V output, and burns the motors on both disk drives, you have no
backup. So, while you can run your two disk RAID 1 array, you still
need to have a backup of it, so you might as well start doing it
right away, and backup the old array, before making the new array.

Does it seem pointless ? I.e. Instead of doing RAID 1, you could
connect a single drive, and use the second drive for backups. The
benefit of the RAID 1 array, is in the event of a single disk failure,
you can seek to repair it at your leisure. A single disk, with a
second disk as a backup, must be repaired immediately, in order to
go forward.

Disks are relatively cheap, so owning a third disk for backups makes
good sense.

Note that, it is possible to own a controller, that allows moving
from a single disk, to a RAID 1 mirror. The terminology used for
that is "migration" (Intel uses "migration", Nvidia uses "morph").
With migration, the controller is promising not to damage user data,
in moving from a non-RAID, to a RAID configuration. But what you asked
to do, is move from one vendor's RAID 1 format, to another vendor's
RAID 1 format. Even if a controller supports "migration", it is
migration from a carefully controlled initial condition. That is
generally not migration from any arbitrary foreign format. Thus
the backup and restore method is the safest one to use. That is
the method I would use, because I don't like to gamble on things
like this.

PDF page 67 here, mentions morphing. Notice they don't include
moving from a vanilla disk, to a RAID array, presumably because
the driver needed would be different.


PDF page 19 here, mentione migration. A single drive would already
need to be using the RAID driver, to make this possible.


I doubt the VIA driver supports anything like that.


Re: flashing a bios, getting a message

On Wed, 06 Dec 2006 23:19:22 -0500, mm

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Not so ominous, just a confirmation that you want to flash
the bios - remember that this tool could be put onto a boot
CD, floppy, whatever with a command line to run it, and
could have proceeded to flash the bios if not stopping to
ask.  Asking on special circumstances is nice.  Windows
asking if you want to do something mundane after clicking to
do it, is not.

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If you didn't want to flash the bios, "Y" would be bad.

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Always say yes.  People like "Yes", it rolls off the tongue
and creates a positive impression that you are a can-do
kinda guy.  All kidding aside, yes choose Y next time to
flash it.

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?  Who is WD ?
Asus A7V600?
You might link the bios so we can have a look at what they
offer, but in general it's good to say away from the betas,
unless they address a specific problem you're having, or
maybe if they included a newer SATA bios that you'd rely on
to make RAID arrays, so the next time you'd update the board
bios, you wouldn't THEN be updating the SATA bios after
having an array dependant on it.    Probably wouldn't
matter, but then again, better safe than sorry.

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Before you start using the board, putting data on the system
and installing OS, yes I would update the bios to the most
recent non-beta, and then first test stability, like running
memtest86+ for a day or two.  Then installing OS and
stability tests running on that OS, before bothering to
install anything else since the system has to be stable.
One always hopes a new bios is better in every way, but
rarely new issues come up, especially if they'd been
fiddling with chipset registers or memory timings.

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Those (primary & secondary master/slave) are the Parallel
ATA (PATA), see Paul's post.

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On the hardware or health screen of the bios, see if all
parameters are as they should be.  It could be something
trivial like a -5 or -12V rail that is unused, being out of
spec, or a fan withou RPM feedback so the system doesn't
know if the fan is running.

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I'd flash the newest bios then load setup defaults, then
proceed seeing if any bios settings need changed.  Since
this is a second-hand(?) board, who knows what the prior
owner might've changed for better, or worse, or specific to
a hardware config you don't have/use.

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