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Trying to update a very old BIOS, need help & advice

This is a discussion on Trying to update a very old BIOS, need help & advice within the Motherboards, Bios|UEFI & CPU forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. I am trying to update the BIOS of an old (date on boot comes up as 1996/02/16) Biostar motherboard (MB-8500TUC)

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Old 01-17-2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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I am trying to update the BIOS of an old (date on boot comes up as 1996/02/16) Biostar motherboard (MB-8500TUC) from an old Quantex PC running Win95a. (The MB manual doesn’t say “Biostar” anywhere, but I found it out by Googling the number.) Here is (maybe too much of) the history:

I recently had a computer built for me and I am giving my old Windows 95 PC to my sister who has none. The old computer originally had one 2GB hard drive. Some few years later I needed more drive space so I installed a second 6GB slave without any problems. Since I was running Win95a I had to partition it. I created a tiny D partition on which I put my fixed size swap file and created 3 other ~2GB partitions. Some time later I had a couple of episodes of bad sectors on the original 2GB C drive, requiring me to run scandisk to fix them. In June of 2000 I bought a 10GB hard drive intending to replace the 2GB drive with it since I thought the original drive might soon fail, but I never did get around to doing it. The original 2GB C drive is still working although I did have a third instance of bad sectors. The brand new 10GB drive has been sitting around unopened since 2000.

I thought now might be a good time to replace the 2GB with the 10 as I was giving away the PC. We set the new 10GB drive as slave and switched it with the 6. I was all set to boot up and use fdisk and xcopy to partition, format and play a little musical hard drives, everything then ending up on the new 10GB in order to have the correct drive letters. My swap file partition would then be H drive and I, J, and K (the old E, F, & G) could be formatted to become blank drives along with the new D partition. We didn’t get nearly that far however.

With the 2GB master and 10GB slave connected the boot would hang up. Both drives would be detected and their proper numbers would be displayed, but that was as far as things ever got. The PC speaker never beeped. It felt like the drive was spinning when touching its case. We made several tries and waited a long time but nothing further ever happened. Since things hung up before the beep, pressing [delete] would not enter the BIOS and trying to boot from a Win95 boot floppy did not work. The PC would boot up just fine with the 6GB drive removed and only the 2GB C drive present. It was only when the new 10GB was exchanged with the 6GB slave drive that any boot problem occurred.

She can use the PC as is, but I would sure like to replace that questionable 2GB C drive. A link from a response to a post in the hard drive forum indicates that the problem is almost certainly that this BIOS has a hard drive limitation of 8.4 GB (therefore the 6GB drive worked OK but not the 10). Online I was able to find two update files for this BIOS, a .rom file from Biostar Group dated 1997-05-30 (tuc530b.rom) and a self-extracting file (8500tuc) from BIOS & Drivers with a date of 97-2-22. I am not sure, however, if either of these updates is new enough to eliminate the 8.4 GB limitation. According to the linked article, in general, BIOS’s after 1998 do not have this limitation. The 1997-5-30 update is the latest I could find.

The motherboard manual gives the procedure listed below as a method of updating the BIOS. I copied the “tuc530b.rom” file to an otherwise blank floppy and renamed it “amiboot.rom” with my new PC, then tried to use the procedure below to update the old PC’s BIOS. When powering up while pressing [Ctrl] & [Home] nothing but a blank screen ever happens. There is never any A drive activity that I can discern. After waiting (over 10 minutes in one case) I can remove the disk and push the reset button and the PC will then boot normally, the BIOS having not been updated. I tried varying the time before releasing the two keys but always with the same results.
• Copy BIOS file to A drive & rename it to amiboot.rom.
• Turn off computer.
• Turn on computer while pressing Ctrl and Home keys.
• Release the keys after 3 seconds.
• Wait until you hear beeps
• Remove the disk.
• Computer will re-boot automatically.
• Confirm for the BIOS date on the boot-up screen.

There is another update method given in the motherboard manual using a program called “AMIFLASH.COM” (dated 1994). As far as I can tell it is not present on the hard drive and I have no floppy with it either. The manual shows it as a very simple interface with only one input, “Enter BIOS Filename:”, where the path to and name of the BIOS update file are to be entered. There are several places online where amiflash can be downloaded. They are all quite a bit newer programs than the 1994 program and they all look like they have a somewhat more complex user interface with options beyond the single entry of the program described in the manual. I have not yet downloaded any version.

I suppose the bottom line is that I need some help answering these questions:
• Is 5/30/1997 a new enough date for a BIOS revision to avoid the 8.4 GB hard drive limitation?
• Does anyone know if there exists a more recent update for this BIOS?
• Is there anything I am doing wrong in the power up while holding the Ctrl & Home keys procedure?
• Various versions of the amiflash program seem to be available for download all over. Should these newer versions be able to be used to update this very old BIOS?
• Does anyone have any tips on using amiflash? Some places say it needs to be run from a floppy boot disk and others say not.
• Should I perhaps follow that universal admonition “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and hand her a perfectly good (save a somewhat questionable C drive) PC right now?

I certainly appreciate any help or insight anyone can give me. Thanks.
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Old 01-17-2006, 02:15 PM   #2
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Ususally the bios revisions should come from the pc builder...in your case Quantex, since many OEM builders disable functions on mobo's purchased from suppliers like Biostar. But, Quantex went out of business in 2000, you'll have to either hunt the web for the last realeased bios revision from Quantex or just leave well enough alone. Flashing an OEM mobo with a retail bios revision may sometimes work, but may also render your mobo inoperable.
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