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Soldered BIOS chips - a general question

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August 27, 2008 2:59:57 AM

(I originally incorrectly posted this on the Overclocking board/Chipsets & Bios thread and have moved it here while deleting it there).

This is a general question about soldered BIOS and flashing those chips. I've looked thru this forum and many others and have only found a small bit of info.

The question: How do mobo companies like Gigabyte flash the soldered BIOS at the factory? And how can they re-flash it for you, apparently fairly easily? And, if that's the case, then why can't we use the same methods?

Background to my question: I've now joined the ranks of those who have turned a mobo into fancy platter by a failed BIOS flash - this was a Gigabyte GA-8IPE775-G. The BIOS chip is soldered on this board.

In the many Google searches, I found these options:
-- Pitch the board
-- Attempt to reflash it via floppy
-- Send it to a custom shop and have a socket soldered in and a replaceable BIOS chip inserted
-- RMA the board back to Gigabyte.

For the sake of argument, let's ignore the first 3 choices. I called Gigabyte USA and they said they can re-flash it for <$30, including S&H.

It was the price that caught my attention. I'm figuring, for that price, they're not desoldering/resoldering chips - they've got to be doing an on-board flash. And that led me to wonder - how it is done at the factory?

I started looking at the board and, out on one edge are 3 solder pads, with a large label BIOS WP. There are some other words about two different combinations of those pins (1&2 and 2&3) with 2&3 indicated as a default of some sort. I assume WP = write protect.

So, in a factory process, are they connecting one, two, or three of those pins by a temporary jumper or two? Something like a clamp with two or more matching pads or some applied voltages to those clamp pads? Do they then flash the BIOS via the floppy port? If so, why can't we do the same? Or, is there some other port they access or do they do it thru a custom masked connector that temporarily fits down over the BIOS chip?

Again, this is just a general question but I wonder if it is one whose answer might be help lead the way to help people avoid seemingly permanently-bricked mobos and the costs of new boards.

For my part, the need to get this machine running again will probably lead me to RMA the board to Gigabyte. I wish I had the time to play with it and perhaps really ruin it. :wahoo: 
September 5, 2008 5:31:31 PM

I have seen a company flash a BIOS on a failed motherboard that was soldered on. It was quite awesome actually. Think of a small plug that sits over the BIOS chip and has spring loaded pins that make direct contact over the BIOS's pins(kind of like how the pins on a PCI/AGP/PCI-Express slot are made). Then just push it onto the top of the BIOS, hold it for about 45 seconds or so while they flash the bios, then remove it and the motherboard is now reflashed.

Now, they may have some kind of system in place that they mount the board and the old BIOS is removed and a new BIOS is installed. This could be a very good way to make alot of money. Just load all of the BIOS locations onto some computer controlled soldering unit. Give it the x,y location of the BIOS pins, and it automatically removes the old and installs the new. Could be easy to do, and it would be easy to program many motherboards(just give it different x,y locations). I'm thinking they probably do it the way I mentioned above.

a b V Motherboard
September 7, 2008 12:46:13 AM

I miss those non-solder in boards... made great boards for BIOS modding....
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July 30, 2009 7:50:09 PM

cyberjock said:
I have seen a company flash a BIOS on a failed motherboard that was soldered on. It was quite awesome actually. Think of a small plug that sits over the BIOS chip and has spring loaded pins that make direct contact over the BIOS's pins(kind of like how the pins on a PCI/AGP/PCI-Express slot are made). Then just push it onto the top of the BIOS, hold it for about 45 seconds or so while they flash the bios, then remove it and the motherboard is now reflashed.

Now, they may have some kind of system in place that they mount the board and the old BIOS is removed and a new BIOS is installed. This could be a very good way to make alot of money. Just load all of the BIOS locations onto some computer controlled soldering unit. Give it the x,y location of the BIOS pins, and it automatically removes the old and installs the new. Could be easy to do, and it would be easy to program many motherboards(just give it different x,y locations). I'm thinking they probably do it the way I mentioned above.



But where can you send the bourd to get it flashed ?
mypc now reboots every 3 secons after a bad flash ^^
a b V Motherboard
July 30, 2009 8:37:28 PM

Now at days more and more companies opt to have soldered Bios chips, why? Cause it easier for them to re-flash as opposed to having to remove a chip and installing a new one. It is more expensive for a company to have chips available for the consumer as opposed to connecting 2 clamps and reflashing. When a Bios flash goes bad, it does not mean that the chip is dead, it just needs to be jumped and reflashed... So in the end mobo companies dont have to deal with consumers trying to do it them selves (DIY) and adding more headaches to the table. In the end, it is an issue to the tech-savy and a breeze to the common noob.....
July 31, 2009 11:44:38 AM

Sweet , the only problam with that is
asus is in china and to send the mb over there has it own risks.
so do they or other companys cloct to manchest have the tek to flash a bios the SPI way

thank for the post
a b V Motherboard
July 31, 2009 2:41:25 PM

My pleasure, and yes I agree with you....If you have to ship it overseas it can get damaged in-transit and you end up responsable for a broken mobo..

As far as where it can be flashed, i would not know since I have never had a bad flash but I guess you can google it or call the manufacturer and get the closest location....
August 14, 2009 4:01:16 PM

samh - I don't know where you are, but Asus in the US is, I believe, down in Kentucky. I had to ship my M3N-HT there when it went down.
August 15, 2009 4:33:18 PM

hi yes i been looking in to this and i found out a fuw things,
this is my understanding its a its in china and USA Manly i think its more chinese becose off the people i speake to are all from there, (might be just cheaper laber)
but for those in the uk you can send the bourd RMA, in the uk , if you bourt the bourd second hand like me, you can pay to have it RMA if its still in waranty go to
www. Creative Computing

Phone: 0141 649 7577

Creative Computing
1429 Pollokshaws Road
Shawlands
Glasgow
G41 3RQ

thay RMA all the asus bourds in the uk

YOU GOT TO PAY 16 pound and P&P there tho

hope this helps eny one it deep shi1#
August 15, 2009 4:41:34 PM

OvrClkr said:
Now at days more and more companies opt to have soldered Bios chips, why? Cause it easier for them to re-flash as opposed to having to remove a chip and installing a new one. It is more expensive for a company to have chips available for the consumer as opposed to connecting 2 clamps and reflashing. When a Bios flash goes bad, it does not mean that the chip is dead, it just needs to be jumped and reflashed... So in the end mobo companies dont have to deal with consumers trying to do it them selves (DIY) and adding more headaches to the table. In the end, it is an issue to the tech-savy and a breeze to the common noob.....



the problam i got with a solderd bios is that you cant DOit your self, for the not so tec savy, they wont even know wat the bios is, they probably just instales a windows updater ad it was all automated, and thats what fuked it!
but for eny one invesagating it haveing a spare bios on the bourd i beleve is the way to go, so if the maine gose down you can just use the back up and save 6 weeks of RMA wateing and being stuk with out me FUCCCCING GAMEING RIG lol

BUT looking on the bright side i lernt lodes with my spare time,
i can
plum
nit and juggal so far and its only been a week lol

PS was just thinking |Y not have a spere bios and a spi header for the comerny just to re flash that would cove bouth grounds^^

am i makeing sense?
a b V Motherboard
August 15, 2009 5:37:03 PM

@samh: Next time please start your own thread. Do not awaken dead threads.
!