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Tutorials | How do I flash an Award BIOS

Publish date: 18:44 Thursday, 28th July 2005
Written by: Postcode
Audience intended for: Hardware
Category: Computer Hardware

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Flashing your motherboards BIOS a fairly straight forward procedure. The required components are the proper flashing utility and the proper data file that will be written the CMOS. To accomplish this, your first stop is the web site of your motherboard manufacturer and download the latest flashing utility and BIOS update. There are other places to download the flashing utilities, however, I recommend using the utility that comes with your latest bin file or the one recommended by your motherboard manufacturer. With some motherboards, the individual motherboard manufacturer uses their own proprietary flashing utility. Make sure you always check your motherboard manufacturer's website for any information and read the motherboard manual to find any information related to this.

Ensure your using a newer floppy disk and that your floppy drive is not causing any problems. If your floppy drive is questionable, then replace it before performing the upgrade. One bad CRC error during the flashing of the BIOS and it's toast. As for the floppy, I highly recommend using a brand new one or at least a nearly brand new one. Perform a complete format of the disk before using it to ensure no problems are found with it. I also suggest that you don't use a floppy disk that has any bad sectors or other problems with it.

Before flashing any BIOS you should prepare the system for flashing. If your computer is overclocked it is highly recommended that you set the CPU to run at the default speed. Enter the BIOS setup and disable all forms of shadowing. This includes, Video BIOS Cacheable and System BIOS Cacheable, which can be found within the Chipset Features Setup. You should also disable any power management features that are enabled. If you system has a setting within the BIOS to protect the BIOS from flashing you will need to disable this as well. Some motherboard have a jumper on them that can be set to protect the BIOS from being flashed. This needs to be disabled as well if it is present.

For Award BIOS's:

For Award BIOS's, the flashing procedure is fairly simple. It can be a little intimidating for those who are unfamiliar to the command line though. Rest assured, it's really not all that hard. After you have downloaded the latest BIOS and the flashing utility, place those files on a floppy disk. You will want to have them either on a floppy disk that is bootable or on a floppy disk separate from the boot disk. In either case, your going to need a boot disk to perform the flashing. To create a boot disk, insert a black floppy disk into the drive. If your using Windows 9x, open My Computer and right click on the A: drive. Select Format and ensure that the create system disk is checked. For Windows 2000 users, your going to need a bootable disk created elsewhere. Windows XP users can create a bootable floppy using the same method as Windows 9x users. This creates a Windows ME boot disk. Once you have a boot disk created and a copy of the flashing utility and a copy of the latest BIOS update, your ready to flash the BIOS.

Boot to the bootable floppy. Once you have booted the system to the command line ensure that the floppy disk containing the flashing utility and the BIOS update is in the drive. The next portion will vary from system to system. The flashing utility and the BIOS update image will vary so the following is a general guideline to working with the command line:

A:\>dir

(a listing of the files located on a: drive will be displayed)A:\>awdflash b1sv13.bin

A:\>awdflash b1sv13.bin

(Runs the Award flashing utility and directs it to the BIOS update file )

Follow the onscreen instructions for the flashing procedure. A word of caution at this point. DO NOT pull the plug, press the reset button or otherwise interrupt the flashing procedure once it has begun. Interruption of the flashing procedure WILL render the system unbootable!


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A method of flashing an Award BIOS is to automate it. By creating a prepared bootdisk with the flashing utility and the BIOS .bin file on it, you can create a bootable disk that will flash the BIOS and perform other functions for you without having you type anything. After you have created a bootable floppy, using you favorite text editor, open the autoexec.bat file located on the floppy disk. If one is not present then just save the file once you have created it to the floppy as autoexec.bat. The following code will completely automate the flashing procedure for you:

@echo off
if exist oldbios.bin goto old
awdflash.exe newbios.bin oldbios.bin /py /sy /cc /cp /cd /sb /r
goto end
:old
awdflash.exe oldbios.bin /py /sn /cc /cp /cd /sb /r
:end


The awdflash.exe is the name of the flashing program you are using. The newbios.bin is the name of the bios image you downloaded for you motherboard. The oldbios.bin file is the name of the bios you choose to save the old bios (your current BIOS) onto floppy as. IF your BIOS flash fails, the old BIOS is in backed up in oldbios.bin. You can just reboot with that floppy again and the process of flashing the bios to the old version is automatic. As long as the oldbios.bin is present on the floppy, it will get flashed to the BIOS. After flashing the BIOS to a newer version remember to remove the floppy from the drive. The process of flashing the BIOS is automatic, so if you leave the floppy in the drive it will flash the BIOS again.


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The following are the command line switches for the Award flashing utility. You can use these in conjunction with the flashing utility to help automate the flashing procedure. For example:

AWDFLASH xxxx.BIN /py/sn/cc

Would run the flashing utility and tell the utility to perform the flash (/py), do not save the current BIOS into a backup file (/sn), and clear the CMOS after performing the flash (/cc). After flashing any BIOS, either Award, AMI, Phoenix, or any other motherboard BIOS, always clear the CMOS. The values that are current saved in the CMOS may not match the setup programs new procedures. If the BIOS update installed any new instructions or set up new values for any existing procedures, these values won't match what is expected. For this reason, you should ALWAYS clear the BIOS after flashing it and reconfigure the BIOS after clearing it.


/? - Help. Before you start working with Award Flash Memory Writer, it is advisable to use this key and to study carefully all the opportunities of this software.

/Py or /Pn - stands for answering "yes" (Y) or "no" (N) to the request concerning the BIOS reflashing. By means of /Pn you can ban FlashROM reprogramming. This option enables you to save the current version of the BIOS or to get its checksum without updating your BIOS. A backup copy will help you to restore the previous version of the BIOS. By default /Py mode is set.

/Sy or /Sn - stands for answering "yes" (Y) or "no" (N) to the request about saving the previous version of the BIOS. By default /Py mode is set again. In this case before reprogramming the FlashROM microchip you'll need to confirm saving by this request:

Do You Want To Save BIOS (Y/N)

/Sn is recommended to use for *.bat-files in case of automatic BIOS reflashing in systems without a display.

/CC - to clear CMOS after reflashing. This option comes in handy when there is a risk that the data arrays created by new BIOS version in CMOS may differ from those former ones. If so, then you are likely to have troubles with the mainboard startup. Clearing CMOS will let you avoid searching for Clear CMOS jumper on the board, which is really helpful if it isn't accompanied with a proper manual or is simply hard to access.

/CP - stands for clearing PnP (ESCD) Data matrix after BIOS reflashing. The information about PnP devices is stored in ESCD. The key /CP is an equivalent to Reset Configuration Data in PnP/PCI Configuration CMOS Setup. It makes sense to use /CP if you skip several versions of BIOS or if you have installed new PnP cards. If you don not update the ESCD, your board may suffer some startup problems.

/CD - stands for clearing DMI Data pool after reprogramming. Literally, DMI is a data base, containing all the information on the system as a whole. Clearing it may be fruitful in the above mentioned situations with /CP and /CC keys, as well as if some of the system components have been changed.

/SB - stands for no BootBlock reflashing. The BootBlock is the first unit to be addressed by startup and it is hardly ever changed. If the board manufacturer gives no other recommendations, there is no need to reflash BootBlock. In particular, if the BIOS reflashing fails, it may become impossible to restore the BIOS via software. On some mainboards there is a BootBlock Protection jumper. If protection is set, either you won't be able to reflash the BIOS without /SB at all or the system will face verification errors.
This setting has NOT been confirmed to work. It may or may not work on your motherboard. Use with caution. Thanks for the input Tmod.

/SD - stands for saving the data of DMI pool in a file. Part of DMI can be saved to be used by the software in future. Even though this key stands in the list, which is shown by /?, using it will bring no result. This key simply doesn't work.

/R - stands for the system reset after reflashing. It lets you have your computer restarted automatically as soon as you finish updating FlashROM. The option is useful for working through a *.bat-file.

/Tiny - stands for using less RAM. Without the /Tiny key, AwardFlash utility tries to put the entire BIOS file, which is intended for further reflashing, into RAM. Still, if have taken all the precautions but anyway you see a message saying "Insufficient Memory" during the BIOS reflashing procedure, then the key /Tiny should be used. It will make the data from the BIOS file loaded and reflashed in portions.

/E - stands for returning to DOS after BIOS reflashing. For instance, you may need it to make sure that the previous version of the BIOS is saved.

/F - stands for reprogramming by means of the system BIOS. Most contemporary BIOS's feature the procedure of FlashROM reprogramming. The key /F enables AwardFlash to reprogram FlashROM with the algorithms of the current BIOS version. If a mainboard peculiarities do not allow applying AwardFlash Writer algorithms, you should use the key /F.

/LD - stands for clearing CMOS after reflashing and not showing the message "Press F1 to continue or DEL to setup". Unlike /CC, this key lets you avoid this message by the following startup after clearing CMOS, provided you have set the properties by default.

/CKS - stands for showing the checksum of XXXXh file. The checksum is shown in hexadecimal representation. This option is advised to be used with the verification key.

/CKSxxxx - stands for comparing the checksum of the file with XXXXh. If the checksums are different, you'll see the message "The program file's part number does not match with your system!". As a rule, XXXXh for each BIOS update file is usually available on the mainboard manufacturer's site

/WB - Updates the BIOS Boot Block. This switch does not have to be used. The BIOS Boot Block will get updated with the flashing of the BIOS.
Thanks for the input Tmod

/CC = clear cmos data after programming

/CD = clear dmi data after programming

/CP = clear PnP (ESCD) data after programming

/R = reset system after programming

/PY = program flash memory

Here are some additional command line switches for the Award flashing program:

/? = show help menu

/SY = backup original BIOS to disk

/SB = skip bootblock programming

/TINY = occupy lesser memory

/E = return to DOS when programming is done

/F = use flash routines in original BIOS for flash programming

/LD = destroy cmos checksum and no system halt for first reboot after programming

/CKSxxxx = compare binfile checksum with xxxx

/CKS = show update binfile checksum

/PN = no flash programming

/SN = no original BIOS backup

/SD = save dmi data to file

/WB = flashes the BIOS Boot Block

 

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