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Brand-name PC BIOS

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slim_lim

Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
I don't have one of those lame branded PC's that don't allow you to access any fun settings in BIOS (in addition to be sucky in general), but some of my friends do. I was thinking: could you remove the BIOS chip (they're typically not soldered in their socket) from the mobo on such computer and replace it with another chip that supports tweaking, like AWARD BIOS? I realize that for this to work the mobo in question must be able to support variable settings. Your thoughts?
 

Jon

Just Another Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 19, 2000
Location
Lawrenceville, GA
Same reason an Intel chip won't work in an AMD motherboard (if the pins fit, that is). The BIOS contains all the microcode for specific components on a motherboard to work correctly. You pop another chip in there and it would probably power up, but all you'd be looking at is a pretty black screen.

OEM motherboards aren't modelled after the more popular retail boards we buy so there aren't any matches...and they need to match perfectly, down to each and every microcomponent.

Youc ould find plenty of BIOS chips that would fit since they are all manufactured to fit specific socket types, but it's what's programmed into that chip that matters. OEM PCs aren't upgradeable or interchangeable, for the most part, for a reason. Money. They want you to buy a new one, plain and simple.

I'm not saying it's not impossible to find one of these motherboards that may support multiplier or FSB adjustment and could make a BIOS for it that would allow this, I'm saying that for those that want these kinds of performance options people are just going to buy and build their own for this type of need. Hence, there is no need for anyone to produce it and it would be strictly a pet project for anyone that attempted it...no easy job either.
 
OP
S

slim_lim

Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
OK, thanks, Jon. I get what you're saying. The firmware needs to match the board - that's pretty obvious. So another BIOS chip would fit the mobo and probably be able to interface with it since BIOS chips are manufactured to a standard, but wouldn't work because of firmware mismatch.
However, I think what I proposed would still be possible - if the matching proprietary firmware were to be hacked to support more features (provided they could work with the mobo), or firmware from a similar board modified to be in-spec with the mobo in the brand system, or even new firmware written (based on the existing features and hardware-support extenions of a fully-featurd BIOS like AWARD).
I think it could be easier than it sounds. For example HP uses ASUS boards that ASUS custom manufacures for them. My guess is that those boards aren't comletely different from regular versions but rather slightly modified variants (no jumpers, integrated audio, maybe other small things) of them. If so, HP boards would in theory allow the much greater variety of tweaks of the ASUS version if the user wasn't prevented from it by the limited BIOS. So if you could match an HP mobo to its ASUS retail counterpart, I think chances are good the firmware from the ASUS board would work in the HP board, although perhaps imperfectly (for example integrated audio losing functionality). So a person knowledgeble in how BIOS operates, using the two firmwares as reference, could make a hybrid of the two that would retain the specific features of the original HP firmware as well as tweaking capabilities of the ASUS firmware.
It's definitely not a task for a non-expert, but for someone with enough technical knowledge it could be an interesting project. They could then release it over the Internet so others can benefit as well.
Firmwares have been hacked/interchanged on videocards and cd-writers. I have an hp8100 burner, that is really a sony drive but with 2 LED's (read&write) instead of the matching sony's 1. I flashed it with a hacked firmware that allows full 80-minute recording (derived from a later version of sony firmware that hp never releasd) while retaining functionality of both LEDs (that sony firmware does not support).
So, why not motherboards.
 

Yodums

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2001
Location
Ottawa, Canada
LiGhTBoY said:
Why not just flashing the BIOS with a/the latest version?

No, if the bios are locked to begin with, the bios won't fix anything other than the fixes, that is unless you have some kind of corporate tool to unlock the bios for like OEM setup used to fix it etc.

Yodums
 

Breadfan

Inactive Moderator
Joined
Jan 4, 2001
Location
Northern VA
I think there are some people (usually individuals) who'll customize a bios for a board...but I think they usually just tweak existing bios's anyway...that really wouldn't be worth your time...

...or money. Could probably just get a new mobo that'll accept the cpu and ram without too much cost...if its that important.

Mike