The IOSS BIOS Savior

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BIOS Savior in Action

To program the BIOS Savior for the first time, it is necessary to boot from a floppy disk that contains your motherboard’s BIOS flash utility. This can usually be downloaded from the support section of the manufacturer’s website. I would also advise you to download the most up-to-date BIOS for your board at the same time. Once you’ve booted into the main BIOS, just slide the switch to the other position and run the BIOS flash utility to program the auxillary BIOS chip. Turn off the computer and hard reboot your system and it should boot into the newly programmed auxillary BIOS chip. It’s recommended to test out the auxillary BIOS to make sure it works before it’s needed for disaster recovery.

There are many ways to go about using the BIOS savior. The most common application would be to just simply program the auxillary BIOS with the same exact BIOS program as your main chip uses and forget about it until you have a problem and need to use it. As described above, you can update the auxillary BIOS with a new version and check it’s compatibility with your system before flashing your main BIOS chip. This gives you the option of verifying a new or beta version of a BIOS before messing up your system.

Another application would be have the exact same BIOS in both chips and to play around with different settings to check their effect on overall system performance. It’s possible to tweak memory timings and other parameters and go back and forth to see their effect. It’s important to note that once the computer is booted, the BIOS that is loaded during this initialization will be the one used during operation. Just sliding the switch over, after the boot process, does not allow you to use the backup BIOS. A reboot is necessary to load up the BIOS program into memory.

Extreme Test Case

For those users who really like to leverage their toys, I performed a semi-convoluted test case. I had a Soyo 6VCA motherboard that had an actual BIOS problem. Somehow the BIOS had gotten corrupted on this board and it was booting into a minimal BOOT BLOCK mode and not allowing me to reflash the BIOS to fix things. I had a similar system in my house built up and working fine that utilized the Soyo 7VCA motherboard. The main difference between these boards is that the 6VCA is a Slot1 board and the 7VCA is a Socket370 board. The two boards use slightly different BIOS programs as well.

My first option would be to yank out the corrupted BIOS chip from the 6VCA board and send it back to Soyo for reprogramming for $15 plus shipping both ways. Or another option would be to buy a new BIOS chip from Soyo for $35.

First, the BIOS chip was removed from the 7VCA board that was working fine. Next, the BIOS Savior RD1-2M was installed into the 7VCA motherboard and the main BIOS chip reinserted. The system was booted with a floppy using the main BIOS chip. The BIOS Savior switch was then thrown to access the auxillary ROM and programmed using the latest downloadable BIOS program for the 6VCA. After the programming sequence was done the power was turned off, and the BIOS Savior and 7VCA BIOS chip removed. Finally the main 7VCA BIOS chip was reinstalled back into the 7VCA mainboard by itself, and rebooted to verify that system was still functioning.

The BIOS Savior now held the latest 6VCA BIOS, which was installed into the 6VCA motherboard, and the corrupted 6VCA BIOS chip was inserted into the BIOS Savior socket. The system was booted up using the auxillary BIOS via the bootable floppy. By sliding the BIOS Savior switch over, I now had access to reprogram the original corrupted BIOS chip with the latest BIOS from Soyo. Once the programming sequence was done, I rebooted using the now-fixed BIOS and all was good. This seemed to be a great way to creatively fix a board that had become unusable and needed a new BIOS chip. Essentially the money saved in fixing the problem this way paid for the cost of the BIOS Savior.

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