BIOS Flash

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by seekermeister, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I've always gone by the adage of "if it's not broke, don't fix it", but that doesn't stop me from wondering. My motherboard has had two BIOS updates released since the one I have installed. The first one is only for changing from AM3 to AM3+, which I don't need since I just have the AMD 1090T, and not the Bulldozer CPU, but the second one just says "Modify CPU code", but doesn't specify which CPUs are effected by it.

    It's not that the computer has big problems, but it has some that I sometimes suspect might be related to this. Does anyone have any idea of what changing the CPU code might effect?
     
  2. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    And for the most part, especially with BIOS updates, that is my philosophy too. And nothing wrong with wondering, or checking it out.

    The first update you mentioned illustrates the typical update - support for newly released CPUs, not a problem unless you are getting one of the new CPUs. With the second update though, I agree, "modify CPU code" is not very helpful. I have seen similar descriptions that amounted to nothing significant for the masses, and similar descriptions that suggested the modified code improved CPU stability.

    For drivers, which I include the BIOS, I generally recommend updating only in very limited circumstances. (1) The update addresses a problem I am currently having, (2) the update addresses a security problem (rare), (3) the update is needed to fix a corrupt BIOS (very rare), or (4) the update adds support for new hardware I will be using.

    It is EXTREMEMLY rare for a driver (including the BIOS) to suddenly go bad (without something obviously catastrophic happening). So if these minor problems you are having are new, not something you have been experiencing all along, I would want to make sure I could not attribute the problems to something else.

    That said, flashing the BIOS, while still risky, is much safer than in years past. And most of the major motherboard makers have user-friendly Windows based update tools to make it easy and safe too (so you don't have to create a bootable floppy or CD with the update). Most of these tools also provide a means of creating a backup of your current BIOS, so you can roll-back, should the update fail. Something I urge everyone do.

    If this were me, I would make sure Windows is fully updated, the computer is clean of malware, heat is well managed, then give the update a go - weather permitting. And I mean that. Even though updating the BIOS is much safer today, a sudden power outage during the middle of a flash update can turn a motherboard into a brick.
     
  3. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I think that we agree in our perspectives of these kind of updates, but I still don't know anything more about the nature of that last update than before, and until I do, I will probably just keep wondering. Where I feel that it might have a good effect is in memory management, because I actually had to underclock the RAM to get it working properly. I know that the CPU has a memory controller that could be at the heart of the problem, but I have not been able to get any negative memory test that actually points in that direction. every pass sees no problems. Yet, I continue to get some random BSODs that complains about memory management that implicates the ntoskernel, which doesn't sound like a hardware issue.

    Just in case I have a change of heart, I'm wondering about another aspect of flashing that you mentioned. I know about the variety of methods of flashing available, but have always felt that doing it from a floppy on boot would be somewhat safer than throwing Windows into the hat, even though it would be easier. How do you feel about floppy versus windows flashing, strictly from a safety aspect?
     
    #3 seekermeister, Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  4. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Well, first, not many machines have a floppy drive anymore and the reality is, the magnetic materials of a hard disk are much more robust than those of a floppy.

    For the last 10 years or so, most of my builds have been with Gigabyte, ASUS, and Intel boards, though I have also used BioStar, Foxconn, and MSI. And they all provide reliable Windows utilities. Note it is the BIOS makers that create these utilities (though they may be branded by the board maker).

    Bottom line, I have no problems using, or recommend using the Windows based BIOS update utility provided by the board maker.

    That said, every time I update a BIOS, I hold my breath until the system reboots and all is well.
     
  5. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I build my own rigs, and have always included a floppy in the mix. I very rarely use it, but like knowing that it is there if needed. The one thing that you mentioned about flashing is the need to backup the current BIOS, but it has been so long since I did a flash, I can't remember...can that be done with a floppy? I think that the next motherboard will have a double BIOS chip...I like that idea. What I like better is a motherboard whose BIOS chip can just be replaced by plugging a new one in, but it seems that all are going to soldered chips instead.
     
    #5 seekermeister, Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  6. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    I keep a USB floppy handy, but I have not included a floppy drive in any of my builds for several years. Plus I note more and more motherboards are not including a floppy interface on their boards.

    Gigabyte has had dual-flash for several years. As far as backing to floppy, that would depend on your program.

    Oh, no! Not me. That would be a HUGE step backwards. That's how it was 20+ years ago. If we had a BIOS update, we had no choice but replace the BIOS PROM with a new one from the motherboard maker. No fun, time consuming and a real pain.
     
  7. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    To each his own. Maybe it's just because I'm a rather backwards sort of fellow, but I'm a lot more comfortable buying a BIOS chip online, that only takes me about 5-10 minutes to install, than eternally wondering if I should flash or not, and equally as long (it feels like an eternity), holding my breath until a flash is finished.

    If the BIOS chip replacement isn't any good, just plug the original back in and wait for an RMA. Of course, I do not acquire the chips from the manufacturer, I have a tendencancy to stay as far from them as possible, because I've not had a good experience with any of them.
     
    #7 seekermeister, Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  8. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Almost always for new cpu releases.
     
  9. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    That sounds logical, but as I said, the second newest flash specifically says that it is for AM3+, of which the Bulldozer is the only AMD CPU in that category...as far as I know, and I'm not aware of any other new CPUs. Have they released anything newer than the Bulldozer?

    EDIT: Just Googled and found that they did:

    http://www.amd.com/us/press-releases/Pages/amd-unleashes-2013jun11.aspx

    But that Flash update can't be for that, because it is much too old.
     
    #9 seekermeister, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  10. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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  11. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Try going onto the motherboards website and checking the cpu compatibility list. If you see it in there then I'd hazard the update was for that.
     
  12. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    What is your motherboard please?
     
  13. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    No, the Bulldozer is the newest on their list.
     
  14. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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  15. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    For me it's not such a great deal though. I'm already running a FX8150 at 4.4GHz so paying for a few extra megahertz isn't really worth it.
    I'm waiting on the Steamroller core which we'll see hopefully sometime next year.

    By the way which moBo are you using? If I could look at the updates and date released I may be able to work out exactly what it's for (maybe..lol)
     
  16. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I would wait regardless, because I saw a video earlier that said that DDR4 hardware would be released after the first of the year.

    This one is mine:

    ASRock > 890FX Deluxe4
     
  17. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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  18. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    So there were, it's hard to keep track without a scorecard.
     
  19. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    I don't see any logic in this. Eternally wondering? How is eternally wondering if you should download and install any different than eternally wondering if you should buy and install?

    How is wondering if it will boot after the update any different whether you flash the chip or replace the chip?

    The fact of the matter is, you probably risk greater damage from ESD and mishandling than using a program designed specifically to ensure a good update.

    Huh? Now you really lost me. You replace BIOS firmware chips with chips from 3rd party makers because you don't trust the original chipset makers???? :confused:
     
  20. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    If you do a flash on a motherboard that goes badly, you are then without access to your computer until the motherboard is replaced, unless you have a means of reversing the flash, or the chip itself, if it can be replaced easily, like with a chip that can just be plugged in. Even if the chip is replaceable in that manner, you are still out of computer access until a replacement chip can be acquired, and that is complicated by lack of ability to order it online. All of these problems can be avoided if you just buy a chip beforehand that is already flashed with the latest BIOS, and the down time is neglible and the cost is quite small.
    I see no reason to making a decision on the basis of comparing risks, if a risk can be avoided it should be. I depend on the computer for more than what some people do, since I rarely shop local stores. About the only time I do so is to buy groceries, and that is primarily for perishable items that can't be shipped properly, or items that are too expensive online.
    The chips are made by the same original manufacturers, only difference is that they arrive already flashed by that third party source. If for some reason the chip isn't right, it will be replaced by that source, and the only thing lost is a little time, but during that time the computer is still operable with the original chip.

    For these reasons, I could update to the latest BIOS version, without having to decide whether that update was really necessary for me or not. That option is not available to me with a soldered chip. The only choice is whether I should risks flashing the BIOS myself.

    Yes, flashing is very quick and easy...if nothing goes wrong, but if it does, the solution can become very complicated and expensive.
     
    #20 seekermeister, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013

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