Boot Block Recovery For Free

AWARD Bootblock recovery:

That shorting trick should work if the boot block code is not corrupted, and it should not be if /sb switch is used when flashing the bios (instead of /wb switch).

The 2 pins to short to force a checksum error varies from chip to chip. But these are usually the highest-numbered address pins (A10 and above).

These are the pins used by the system to read the System BIOS (original.bin for award v6), calculate the ROM checksum and see if it’s valid before decompressing it into memory, and subsequently allow Bootblock POST to pass control over to the System BIOS.

You just have to fool the system into believing that the System BIOS is corrupt. This you do by giving your system a hard time reading the System BIOS by shorting the 2 high address pins. And when it could not read the System BIOS properly, ROM Checksum Error is detected “so to speak” and Bootblock recovery is activated.

Sometimes, any combination of the high address pins won’t work to force a checksum error in some chips, like my Winbond W49F002U. But shorting the #WE pin with the highest-numbered address pin (A17) worked for this chip. You just have to be experimentative if you’re not comfortable with “hot flashing” or “replacement BIOS”.

But to avoid further damage to your chip if you’re not sure which are the correct pins to short, measure the potential between the 2 pins by a voltmeter while the system is on. If the voltage reading is zero (or no potential at all), it is safe to short these pins.

But do not short the pins while the system is on. Instead, power down then do the short, then power up while still shorting. And as soon as you hear 3 beeps (1 long, 2 short), remove the short at once so that automatic reflashing from Drive A can proceed without errors (assuming you had autoexec.bat in it).

About how to do the shorting, the tip of a screwdriver would do. But with such minute pins on the PLCC chip, I’m pretty comfortable doing it with the tip of my multi-tester or voltmeter probe. Short the pins at the point where they come out of the chip.

AMIBIOS Recovery bootblock:
1. Copy a known working BIOS image for your board to a floppy and rename it to AMIBOOT.ROM.
2. Insert the floppy in your system’s floppydrive.
3. Power on the system while holding CTRL+Home keys. Release the keys when you hear a beep and/or see the floppy light coming on.
4 . Just wait until you hear 4 beeps. When 4 beeps are heard the reprogramming of the System Block BIOS went succesfull, so then you may restart your system.

Some alternative keys that can be used to force BIOS update (only the System Block will be updated so it’s quite safe):
CTRL+Home= restore missing code into system block and clear CMOS when programming went ok.
CTRL+Page Up= restore missing code into system block and clear CMOS or DMI when programming went ok.
CTRL+Page Down= restore missing code into system block and do not clear CMOS and DMI area when programming went ok
Btw: the alternative keys work only with AMIBIOS 7 or higher (so for example an AMI 6.26 BIOS can be only recovered by using CTRL+Home keys).
Boot Block Recovery for FREE

************************************************
BLACKOUT Flashing
*************************************************

Recovering a Corrupt AMI BIOS chip
With motherboards that use BOOT BLOCK BIOS it is possible to recover a corrupted BIOS because the BOOT BLOCK section of the BIOS, which is responsible for booting the computer remains unmodified. When an AMI BIOS becomes corrupt the system will appear to start, but nothing will appear on the screen, the floppy drive light will come on and the system will access the floppy drive repeatedly. If your motherboard has an ISA slot and you have an old ISA video card lying around, put the ISA video card in your system and connect the monitor. The BOOT BLOCK section of the BIOS only supports ISA video cards, so if you do not have an ISA video card or your motherboard does not have ISA slots, you will have to restore your BIOS blind, with no monitor to show you what’s going on.

AMI has integrated a recovery routine into the BOOT BLOCK of the BIOS, which in the event the BIOS becomes corrupt can be used to restore the BIOS to a working state. The routine is called when the SYSTEM BLOCK of the BIOS is empty. The restore routine will access the floppy drive looking for a BIOS file names AMIBOOT.ROM, this is why the floppy drive light comes on and the drive spins. If the file is found it is loaded into the SYSTEM BLOCK of the BIOS to replace the missing information. To restore your BIOS simply copy a working BIOS file to a floppy diskette and rename it AMIBOOT.ROM, then insert it into the computer while the power is on. The diskette does not need to be bootable or contain a flash utility. After about four minutes the system will beep four times. Remove the floppy diskette from the drive and reboot the computer. The BIOS should now be restored.

Recovering a Corrupt AWARD BIOS
With AWARD BIOS the process is similar but still a bit different. To recover an AWARD BIOS you will need to create a floppy diskette with a working BIOS file in .BIN format, an AWARD flash utility and an AUTOEXEC.BAT file. AWARD BIOS will not automatically restore the BIOS information to the SYSTEM BLOCK for this reason you will need to add the commands necessary to flash the BIOS in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. The system will run the AUTOEXE.BAT file, which will in turn flash the BIOS. This is fairly easy. Here are the steps you need to take.

· Create a bootable floppy diskette
· Copy the BIOS file and flash utility to the diskette
· Create an text file with any standard text editor and add the following lines

@ECHO OFF
FLASH763 BIOSFILE.BIN /py

In the above example I am assuming that you are using the FLASH763.EXE flash utility. You will need to replace the FLASH763 with the name of whatever flash utility you are using, and replace the BIOSFILE.BIN with the name of the BIOS file you are using. You will also need to change the ‘/py’ to whatever the command is for your flash utility to automatically program the BIOS without user intervention. If you do not know the command to automatically flash your BIOS type the name of the flash utility with a space and then /? to display the utility’s help screen. The help screen should pecify the command switch to automatically flash your BIOS. If you are using the FLASH763.EXE utility then the switch to automatically flash your BIOS is ‘/py’.

BIOS Beep Codes

When a computer is first turned on, or rebooted, its BIOS performs a power-on self test (POST) to test the system’s hardware, checking to make sure that all of the system’s hardware components are working properly. Under normal circumstances, the POST will display an error message; however, if the BIOS detects an error before it can access the video card, or if there is a problem with the video card, it will produce a series of beeps, and the pattern of the beeps indicates what kind of problem the BIOS has detected.
Because there are many brands of BIOS, there are no standard beep codes for every BIOS.
The two most-used brands are AMI (American Megatrends International) and Phoenix.

Below are listed the beep codes for AMI systems, and here are the beep codes for Phoenix systems.

AMI Beep Codes

Beep Code Meaning
1 beep DRAM refresh failure. There is a problem in the system memory or the motherboard.
2 beeps Memory parity error. The parity circuit is not working properly.
3 beeps Base 64K RAM failure. There is a problem with the first 64K of system memory.
4 beeps System timer not operational. There is problem with the timer(s) that control functions on the motherboard.
5 beeps Processor failure. The system CPU has failed.
6 beeps Gate A20/keyboard controller failure. The keyboard IC controller has failed, preventing gate A20 from switching the processor to protect mode.
7 beeps Virtual mode exception error.
8 beeps Video memory error. The BIOS cannot write to the frame buffer memory on the video card.
9 beeps ROM checksum error. The BIOS ROM chip on the motherboard is likely faulty.
10 beeps CMOS checksum error. Something on the motherboard is causing an error when trying to interact with the CMOS.
11 beeps Bad cache memory. An error in the level 2 cache memory.
1 long beep, 2 short Failure in the video system.
1 long beep, 3 short A failure has been detected in memory above 64K.
1 long beep, 8 short Display test failure.
Continuous beeping A problem with the memory or video.
BIOS Beep Codes

Phoenix Beep Codes

Phoenix uses sequences of beeps to indicate problems. The “-” between each number below indicates a pause between each beep sequence. For example, 1-2-3 indicates one beep, followed by a pause and two beeps, followed by a pause and three beeps. Phoenix version before 4.x use 3-beep codes, while Phoenix versions starting with 4.x use 4-beep codes. Click here for AMI BIOS beep codes.
4-Beep Codes
Beep Code Meaning
1-1-1-3 Faulty CPU/motherboard. Verify real mode.
1-1-2-1 Faulty CPU/motherboard.
1-1-2-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
1-1-3-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components. Initialize chipset registers with initial POST values.
1-1-3-2 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
1-1-3-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components. Initialize CPU registers.
1-1-3-2
1-1-3-3
1-1-3-4 Failure in the first 64K of memory.
1-1-4-1 Level 2 cache error.
1-1-4-3 I/O port error.
1-2-1-1 Power management error.
1-2-1-2
1-2-1-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
1-2-2-1 Keyboard controller failure.
1-2-2-3 BIOS ROM error.
1-2-3-1 System timer error.
1-2-3-3 DMA error.
1-2-4-1 IRQ controller error.
1-3-1-1 DRAM refresh error.
1-3-1-3 A20 gate failure.
1-3-2-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
1-3-3-1 Extended memory error.
1-3-3-3
1-3-4-1
1-3-4-3 Error in first 1MB of system memory.
1-4-1-3
1-4-2-4 CPU error.
1-4-3-1
2-1-4-1 BIOS ROM shadow error.
1-4-3-2
1-4-3-3 Level 2 cache error.
1-4-4-1
1-4-4-2
2-1-1-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
2-1-1-3
2-1-2-1 IRQ failure.
2-1-2-3 BIOS ROM error.
2-1-2-4
2-1-3-2 I/O port failure.
2-1-3-1
2-1-3-3 Video system failure.
2-1-1-3
2-1-2-1 IRQ failure.
2-1-2-3 BIOS ROM error.
2-1-2-4 I/O port failure.
2-1-4-3
2-2-1-1 Video card failure.
2-2-1-3
2-2-2-1
2-2-2-3 Keyboard controller failure.
2-2-3-1 IRQ error.
2-2-4-1 Error in first 1MB of system memory.
2-3-1-1
2-3-3-3 Extended memory failure.
2-3-2-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
2-3-2-3
2-3-3-1 Level 2 cache error.
2-3-4-1
2-3-4-3 Motherboard or video card failure.
2-3-4-1
2-3-4-3
2-4-1-1 Motherboard or video card failure.
2-4-1-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
2-4-2-1 RTC error.
2-4-2-3 Keyboard controller error.
2-4-4-1 IRQ error.
3-1-1-1
3-1-1-3
3-1-2-1
3-1-2-3 I/O port error.
3-1-3-1
3-1-3-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
3-1-4-1
3-2-1-1
3-2-1-2 Floppy drive or hard drive failure.
3-2-1-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
3-2-2-1 Keyboard controller error.
3-2-2-3
3-2-3-1
3-2-4-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
3-2-4-3 IRQ error.
3-3-1-1 RTC error.
3-3-1-3 Key lock error.
3-3-3-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
3-3-3-3
3-3-4-1
3-3-4-3
3-4-1-1
3-4-1-3
3-4-2-1
3-4-2-3
3-4-3-1
3-4-4-1
3-4-4-4 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
4-1-1-1 Floppy drive or hard drive failure.
4-2-1-1
4-2-1-3
4-2-2-1 IRQ failure.
4-2-2-3
4-2-3-1
4-2-3-3
4-2-4-1 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
4-2-4-3 Keyboard controller error.
4-3-1-3
4-3-1-4
4-3-2-1
4-3-2-2
4-3-3-1
4-3-4-1
4-3-4-3 Faulty motherboard or one of its components.
4-3-3-2
4-3-3-4 IRQ failure.
4-3-3-3
4-3-4-2 Floppy drive or hard drive failure.
3-Beep Codes
Beep Code Meaning
1-1-2 Faulty CPU/motherboard.
1-1-3 Faulty motherboard/CMOS read-write failure.
1-1-4 Faulty BIOS/BIOS ROM checksum error.
1-2-1 System timer not operational. There is a problem with the timer(s) that control functions on the motherboard.
1-2-2
1-2-3 Faulty motherboard/DMA failure.
1-3-1 Memory refresh failure.
1-3-2
1-3-3
1-3-4 Failure in the first 64K of memory.
1-4-1 Address line failure.
1-4-2 Parity RAM failure.
1-4-3 Timer failure.
1-4-4 NMI port failure.
2-_-_ Any combination of beeps after 2 indicates a failure in the first 64K of memory.
3-1-1 Master DMA failure.
3-1-2 Slave DMA failure.
3-1-3
3-1-4 Interrupt controller failure.
3-2-4 Keyboard controller failure.
3-3-1
3-3-2 CMOS error.
3-3-4 Video card failure.
3-4-1 Video card failure.
4-2-1 Timer failure.
4-2-2 CMOS shutdown failure.
4-2-3 Gate A20 failure.
4-2-4 Unexpected interrupt in protected mode.
4-3-1 RAM test failure.
4-3-3 Timer failure.
4-3-4 Time of day clock failure.
4-4-1 Serial port failure.
4-4-2 Parallel port failure.
4-4-3 Math coprocessor.