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Out with BIOS, in with UEFI.

Ever since the computer was born, there needed to be a program to tell the CPU where things are and how to use them. In 1981 the IBM 5150 introduced the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) to the IBM-PC market. The IBM 5150 had an 8088 16bit (16bit internal bus, 8bit external bus) processor, so the BIOS chip was limited to 16 bits and 1MB of memory space. Years went by and the CPU became more powerful, with a wider bus and more memory access. However, the BIOS remained the same, and retained it’s 16bit bus and 1MB memory limit, depending on the PC-AT hardware platform.

Enter EFI/UEFI (Extensible Firmware Interface/Unified Extensible Firmware Interface respectively). EFI was introduced in the mid-1990′s with the Intel-HP Itanium processor systems as the older BIOS was considered too limited for large server systems. In 2005 Intel dropped the EFI platform and handed it over to the Unified EFI Forum, which then became the UEFI.

There are several advantages to UEFI over the BIOS. UEFI boots faster, has the ability to boot from very large hard disks over 2TB, drops the MBR (master boot record) for the GUID Partition table, architecture and drivers are CPU-independent, an extensive GUI with mouse and network capabilities are possible, and ACPI and SMBIOS are also included as these are not dependent on the 16bit limitations of the older BIOS.

UEFI requires the Operating System and the Firmware to be matched. Therefore, 64bit UEFI can only run a 64bit Operating System. Microsoft Windows started support for UEFI beginning with 64bit Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows 7 64bit versions support UEFI, as does Linux and Intel Mac’s OSX.

UEFI does not boot the same as a BIOS does. It requires a special partition table that points to a partition that has a special file that UEFI can load rather than just relying on the boot sector. Since the UEFI boot loader is a kind of UEFI application, it can be used to add extra functionality, such as choosing which Operating System to boot from. It can also auto-detect the boot loader so that it can be used to boot from removable media.

Several Virtualization platforms have implemented  UEFI. Virtualbox 3.1+, VMware Fusion 3+,  and QEMU can be used with UEFI. Virtualbox with UEFI will only work with Linux/Unix Operating Systems, so Windows will not work on Virtualbox using UEFI.

No overclock option in your BIOS? No Problem.

Overclocking your CPU can be risky business, however if done properly and with the proper amount of care, it can improve system performance anywhere from 5% to 50% depending on the CPU and how it is overclocked. In this article, I am going to discuss the various methods, benefits and downfalls of overclocking. Remember, ALL forms of overclocking beyond the manufacturers specifications voids the warranty and has the potential of “bricking” your CPU, Motherboard, or both. Therefore I take no responsibility what happens to your CPU/Motherboard if you attempt an overclock. If you are not technically inclined, or feel uncomfortable changing these settings, please give it to someone who is or just don’t try it.

Overclocking creates  extra heat, so it is a good idea to buy a good heat sink to dissipate the extra heat.

The safest and perhaps the easiest way to overclock your CPU is if you have that option in your BIOS’s setup. There are often times the BIOS will contain options to change the FSB (Front Side Bus) frequency or CPU clock multiplier. However, as this article is about overclocking without this feature, I will skip this step.

If your motherboard’s BIOS does not have an overclocking feature, do not worry, there are other options. The first option you have is to overclock using overclocking software. overclocking via software basically changes your FSB frequency or the clock multiplier in your CPU. In order for this method to work, you must have one of two things:

1. A PLL clock chip that can be adjusted via software, or
2. An “unlocked” CPU (AMD is called a Black Edition CPU)

There are several freeware programs out there that work quite well. Some of which are “SetFSB” or “CPUCool” . These programs set the clock rate of a variety of PLL clock chips. You will have to know what kind of chip your motherboard has on board. There are tutorials around the web that show how to find what kind of chip you have. Some PLL’s have the ability to be changed and some do not. The SetFSB website has a list of PLL’s that SetFSB supports, and are adding new ones frequently.

This method is quite easy to do. All you have to do is download the application, install it, select your PLL chip in the Clock Generator drop down menu, and change the settings. I highly recommend that you raise the clock by 100 or 200 MHZ at a time. If you raise the clock speed too much at once, you run the risk of burning out your CPU or other chips on the board. Also, setting the FSB raises other clocks on the motherboard such as PCI clock and memory clock. Some PCI cards handle overclocking better than others, so that is a factor on how fast you can go. If your computer starts to lock-up, back off the speed about 200MHZ, or until lock-ups cease then that would be your maximum overclock.

If you have a PLL chip that is not adjustable, and your CPU is a Core2Duo or greater, there is still hope for you. There is a mod called a “BSEL mod” which requires shorting certain pins on your CPU that modifies the connection between your CPU and motherboard. You can find a tutorial (here). It fools the motherboard into thinking the CPU has a faster bus. However, this mod is for experienced persons only. If you have never done anything electronic, I would recommend to not attempt this mod as a mistake could be disastrous.

I understand there are some BIOSes that check the CPUID and configure speed from that. In that case a BSEL mod would not work and you would have to buy a new CPU to get any faster.

Lastly, Some CPUs overclock much better than others, and Motherboards vary in performance also, so the amount of overclocking you can do depends entirely on what you are working with.

Windows-on-ARM: Hot Topic at CES 2012

WoA: Windows8 on ARM

Courtesy of windows8geek.com

Windows on ARM (WoA), a combination of Windows 8 and ARM-based processors, is expected to make an official appearance at the end of 2012 and will try to compete in the notebook market as soon as June 2013, according to sources from notebook vendors.

Since players such as Nvidia and Qualcomm have been enhancing their ARM-based processors’ power consumption and performance, if their processors can successfully pair up with Windows 8 and receive Windows software support, the WoA platform may soon be able to compete against Intel and AMD.

The sources pointed out that players with ARM-based processors are aggressive about WoA platform and are hoping that the platform will be able to raise their share in the tablet PC market as well as help them enter the notebook industry that has been dominated by Wintel.

The ARM CPU players are already aggressively cooperating with notebook players such as Asustek Computer and Lenovo and are set to launch WoA-based notebooks to test the water in mid-2013 with expectations to see the platform take off in 2014 and further grab share from Wintel in 2015 to become the second platform of the notebook market

The sources believe that WoA platform’s advantages over low power consumption and price will provide strong competitiveness, but its biggest problems will be software support and cooperation with notebook vendors. If both problems can be resolved, the platform is expected to received strong attention from notebook players, especially second-tier and white-box players.

However, since Intel will also launch its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors that consume less power than previous generation CPUs, have quick response and stronger security and will launch Haswell-based processors in 2013 with even more advanced designs, competition between the two camps will become the main focuses of the Windows 8 generation.

Intel Ivy Bridge at IDF 2011

Varghese George, senior principal engineer, has detailed information on the upcoming Ivy Bridge microarchitecture that’s due to be released in 1H 2012.

Ivy Bridge is the successor to incumbent Sandy Bridge – the design which powers the majority of Intel’s silicon available today – and it’s considered a tick in Intel’s nomenclature.

Ivy’s central core design is similar to Sandy Bridge in some ways, George said, as it features the same two-chip solution – PCH and CPU – socket, shared cache, and memory-controller found on the incumbent chip.

But George went on to explain that shifting down to 22nm and using the new-fangled tri-gate transistors enables Intel to offer either greater power efficiency or more performance than Sandy Bridge for a set die size, though he would not divulge actual numbers at the technical seminar at IDF.

While performance is clearly important for an architecture that’ll scale from ultra-low-voltage laptops through to servers, George was keen to point out that many of the improvements in Ivy Bridge relate to power efficiency. For example, new power-management features enable more-granular control over the chips’ cores and voltages, extending through to particular chips having multiple TDP settings that can be dynamically adjusted by a PC-manufacturing partner – a range of power settings on one chip, if you will. This intriguing notion was glossed over somewhat, and we plan to learn more tomorrow.

The time between Sandy and Ivy Bridge has enabled Intel to cook up a few new goodies with respect to performance, though. George indicated that Ivy Bridge parts have a collection of technologies for the core, cache and memory-controller that together boost the instruction-per-clock-cycle throughput. Again, no numbers or hard-and-fast data was shared.

Improvements in the instruction-set, new security features, and a boost in display outputs from the integrated graphics – from two to three – keep Ivy Bridge ticking along nicely, he concluded.

Supercharged graphics

Yet the biggest change in Ivy Bridge rests with the integrated graphics, offered Intel’s Tom Piazza. The graphics core is updated to support DX11 and all the necessary logic that it requires; faster QuickSync operation; a dedicated block for video encoding/decoding; and, now, a specific L3 graphics cache that’s not present in Sandy Bridge. It makes sense on this architecture as it’s potent enough to be able to actually use this cache in a meaningful way, Piazza remarked.

What’s unclear is whether these wholesale changes will enable Intel to compete with AMD’s impressive also-integrated graphics found on a range of Fusion chips. Only time will tell, we guess.

Something for the overclocker

Taking many design cues from Sandy Bridge means the new chips feature a tightly-coupled design. Helping out the overclocker, Intel’s board partners are to provide support for DDR3-2,800MHz memory (yes, you read that right), higher multiplier ratios on unlocked parts, and the ability to change said multipliers without rebooting the operating system.

In a nutshell

The Ivy Bridge microarchitecture is shaping up to be faster and more power-efficient than Sandy Bridge, clearly. There are no huge surprises here, and Intel’s bolstering of the graphics core is an obvious move.

We really need to see how the myriad of new technologies gel together before passing judgement, but such has been Sandy Bridge’s all-round excellence, fundamentally bettering it in every area is going to be an uphill task for 2012′s Ivy Bridge assortment of chips.

HP MediaSmart Server Bricked Motherboard Recovered

HP MediaSmart EX485

The HP MediaSmart Server is a versatile OEM Windows Home Server Version 1 product, and is well known for its low power consumption and small form factor. Several months ago, BIOS-Mods helped several other developers compile a BIOS image that would enable true dual core and quadcore CPU support for the EX485 platform to have similar if not better performance than the emerging EX495. After many successful upgrades without BIOS modification, it was established that there were several issues with sleep and shutdown with the “R0″ revision Intel CPUs.

The modding then plunged onward with flashing the EX495 BIOS to the EX485. This was very successful, except there was an incompatibility with the fan speeds and it was determined it would not be a suitable solution. After another few attempts, a bad image was produced and indeed “bricked” the MediaSmart server at BIOS-Mods. Several other owners were also affected.

For anyone who wishes to recover from a bricked BIOS on their Mediasmart after a bad flash, BIOS-Mods now has a proven method for BIOS recovery. Please note if you are testing images for RAID or CPU support, it is reccomended that you always preserve the bootblock, which the recovery method relies upon.

1. Download the original EX485 BIOS image for your server here.
2. Place the image onto an empty USB stick (FAT or FAT32), and rename the file to AMIBOOT.ROM
3. Insert the USB drive into the bottom port on the back of the server.
4. When the server is plugged in, start the server and quickly hold down the recovery button on the server for approximately 5 seconds. The recovery light will then start to flash an aqua to white color. During this time, press Ctrl + Home on your keyboard (USB keyboard, or PS2 keyboard with the adapter, try both to ensure the keystroke is sent). and hold for 3 seconds. Then, your flash drive light activity will flash for a few moments, and your server will reboot automatically with the restored EX485 BIOS.

Now that BIOS-Mods has had a successful recovery procedure developed for the MediaSmart server, stay tuned for RAID5 and CPU support enhancements.

The best BIOS support team on the internet is here, welcome.

Our team of experts works daily to help modify and update your BIOS, and answer your requests within 24hrs.

What is a Bios? A BIOS is defined as a Basic Input Output System.The BIOS is boot firmware, designed to be the first code run by a PC when powered on. The initial function of the BIOS is to identify, test, and initialize system devices such as the video display card, hard disk, floppy disk and other hardware. The BIOS sets the machine hardware into a known state, so that software stored on compatible media can be loaded, executed, and given control of the PC. This process is known as booting, or booting up, which is short for bootstrapping. One of the most important elements of the BIOS for the user is the setup screen, where users can configure startup options and push PC hardware to its limits.

BIOS ChipWhere do we come in? As the modern age of technology exponentially grows in complexity, so does the BIOS. Bioses become more complex, larger in size, and harder to understand. Not only do they become more complicated, but OEM manufacturers (HP, Dell, Acer, etc.) attempt to limit their BIOSes capabilities, to prevent users from running their computer at specifications that could be dangerous to the system. This includes disabling Overclocking abilities, CPU Microcode Updates, uncertified wireless cards, and much more.

What we help you accomplish in our forums is to unlock the potential of your BIOS in a timely fashion, and help you to better understand your BIOS. Here are just a few examples of the modifications we perform:

* Custom Boot Screens and Logos.
* Award/AMI Unlock Overclocking and Hidden Options.
* Whitelist Wificard Modification (For enabling Wifi cards on uncertified PC’s)
* AMD and Intel CPU Microcode Updates.

What if I’m only looking to update a certified BIOS from the manufacturer? No problem. Both the community and the resource pages on the site will help you understand the fundamentals of updating your computer’s BIOS on any system. Please visit our BIOS Update Resource Page for more information.

We hope that we can help you further understand your BIOS, as well as unlock what OEMs don’t want you to have. Please browse the site, visit the forum for requests, and most importantly, enjoy!

Regards,

1234s282 and TheWiz
Website Administrators

ASUS Crosshair IV Formula: Overclocking Paradise

Turbo EVO from ASUS

Turbo EVO running in Windows.

The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard is one of ASUS’ latest motherboards for the AMD platform. A fully featured ATX motherboard using the 890FX chipset, the Crosshair IV can handle today’s latest standards. USB 3.0, Sata 6Gbps, Crossfired GPUs, and six-core Black Edtion CPUs are  all “standard” features that are supported on the 890FX chipset. Not only is it equipped with the latest hardware specifications, but its ability to Overclock and tweak on demand in the BIOS, Windows, and even remotely from another computer makes this board worthy of your Black Edition CPU.

In our test rig at BIOS-Mods, we tested the AMD Phenom II 1090T X6 BE paired with 8GB of G.SKIL DDR3 1600mhz of RAM. We were impressed by how high of an overclock could be achieved, and how simple it was to do with the BIOS and tools ASUS provided in the setup CD. By using the “AI Tweaking utility” in the BIOS, we were able to overclock from 3.2Ghz to 4.2Ghz without any knowledge of the overclock. Here’s how it’s done:

The first step was taking advantage of the Turbo Core feature of the 6 core proccessor. This new feature allows the multiplier of the CPU to adjust iteslf higher on each core when more CPU resources are needed. This quickly brings our target CPU speed to 3.6GHZ. From this point we can tweak to a stable overclock from the BIOS or Windows. In this demonstration, we used ASUS TurboV Evo software to automatically detect a safe overclock and save the overclocking profile. In addition to the auto tuning available in this program, Turbo Key also allowed us to add an extra 200mhz to the equation. By the time the auto-tuning was complete, we had reached 4.3Ghz on the stock CPU cooler that comes with the proccessor. That’s a 25% overclock, with little temperature increase and an insignificant increase in the voltage. Now it’s time to take it to the next level of “quality assurance.”

Not only does ASUS make it simple to run a stable overclock, but they make it even easier to monitor your overclocked system. Using “R.O.G. Connect,” you can monitor your computer while playing your favorite RPG or while running a Direct X benchmark right from your netbook or other PC. All that’s needed is a USB cable wired from the motherboard to the remote computer. Once connected, you can watch the boot sequence, monitor and adjust voltages and clock speeds, and read temperatures and fan speeds. Maintaining the similar llok and feel of the TurboV EVO, it’s an innovative solution for overclockers who want to take their machine to the next level of performance and stability. With the combination of a rock solid BIOS, windows setup package, and remote setup package, ASUS has given the user everything that is needed in a few simple steps. These features make the Crosshair IV Formula a top competitor with Gigabyte and other 890FX motherboards, and prepares overclockers and gamers for the next tier of exceptional performance.

Calling All Beta Testers!

As we continue to add new unlocked bioses to the forum, I have decided to launch a new beta project for the community. When someone requests a BIOS to be unlocked, it usually means we take the current BIOS (from the OEM) and unhide whatever may be locked. Now we have launched a new project, which the best demostration of today is the RETAIL bios for the Nettle2/Acer boards. The new project is simple, we are trying to match OEM boards to their retail counterpart, and do whatever is neccesary to make the retail work flawlessly on the OEM board. In order to do this, I will soon launch a new page that will keep track of all the boards we are looking into, one’s we are testing, and boards that we have successfully converted to a retail version. So, here’s the catch. We need you! to step up and volunteer to help test the retail bios versions. While we will probably not be able to cover all of the requested boards, we hope to get members to test boards they are interested with people who are familiar with hotflashing or programming their chip after a BIOS failure. I also will need a small (very small) team who will help keep track of current boards that are being looked into. If you are interested, please PM me and I will establish whether you fit the profile. After we get a initial “team” to get the ball rolling, we will still need as many of you as we can to confirm that the retail bioses are working. I already have most of my team assembled, but if you are interested in helping with the project, please PM or email me.

Thanks,

TheWiz

HP Nettle2/3 COMPAQ IRIS8 and Acer Aspire E380 Unlocked RETAIL Bios

We finally have some really really exciting news. The battle for these common boards to have stable OC menus, voltage modification, Phenom II support, and a professional retail BIOS has finally come. Our most helpful members banana19 and MrTangoWhiskey have found an ABIT retail BIOS, that successfully flashes to all of the OEM boards mentioned with full control of voltage, OC, and has support for all Phenom I/II proccessors.

So before we get to specifics, a brief timeline on the modding proccess for this motherboard. This has been going on for over a year, and it has taken a lot of support and research to get this board where it should be. We originally started off modifying the HP BIOS for the board. we were able to get overclocking options from it, but the menu was very unstable and items were always floating on the screen. After about 8 months of searching for the solution within the HP BIOS, we realized that poor coding quality in the BIOS was unfixable, and it was time to find the retail fit. I had been doing research on this when a kind member on the forum pointed that this BIOS had all the goods. Its version numbers were similar, it had the same chipset (BIOS donated from ABIT board) and abit has always been known for having overclocking options. With this unlock, we have unlocked what we would see in a retail award bios. The most appealing features are control of AMD Cool and Quiet, Adjustment of CPU FSB, and even setting the voltage and memory timings.

That said, what are you waiting for? Here’s what we need to get started:
1. First, we need to prepare a bootable USB to launch DOS and flash the new BIOS. To do so, download the HP USB disk format tool and install it here

2. Once installed, open the utility and select the USB to format. Below, tick the bubble for creating an MSDOS startup disk. It will then want you to point it to a DOS image folder. You will need to download and unzip this DOS image (do NOT use your own DOS image) here Once it has completed formating your drive, open up the USB in My Computer. Verify that there are only three files on the USB, making sure to unhide protected operating system files in explorer to see them. If you see three DOS files, you are ready for the next phase.

3. Now we will copy over the ABIT BIOS image as well as the flash utility. You will need download AWDFLASH and copy it over to your USB here Once awdflash has been copied over, download the Bios image and save it to your usb from here

4. Once these files have been copied over, you are ready to flash. Reboot windows, and when the BIOS screen comes up hold down Esc and select your USB to boot off of. You will then see a WIN98 splashscreen temporarily flash and you will be in DOS. Once at the prompt, type in the following command:

awdflash M613Z_19.BIN /py /sn /cc / cd /cp /wb /r

Once you type this in you should see on screen the progress of the BIOS flash. When it has finished, it will automatically restart the systen. When it does, tap the delete key to eter the BIOS. There are a couple of this that you will instantly have to do for the best results. Set Smart Fan to Auto in PC Health setup, Enable HPET Support in Advanced BIOS setup, and in the standard setup, MAKE SURE that the floppy is disabled, or it may stall windows for several odd reasons. Out of our four testers, we have all had success with this mod, each on a different board. I was a second tester for the Nettle2 and have a few more words. If you are planning to do this, I recommend backing up windows in case you have to reformat, which wasn’t that bad considering WHS backs up my data. Also, if you hear loud fan noise do not worry. First off, I am the only tester who had this issue, but if you do have this issue then unplugging the rear system fan on the back of the case will instantly make the box silent, and colling isn’t affected. I have also made a work around for solving the fan speed issue, if you need it (which you shouldn’t) then you can hit the support forum. We are ensuring 24hr. technical support for these boards, and by become a member of Bios Mods (free) you can post on the forums with any questions.

Acer Aspire E380 Support
HP Nettle2 Suspport
HP Nettle3 Support (NOTE: ABIT BIOS DOES NOT WORK FOR THIS MODEL. PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING UPDATED BIOS: here)
HP COMPAQ Iris 8

Thank you all for your support, it has been a long journey for getting this board stable. Thanks to another member freddyz, who has provided screenshots below.

TheWiz