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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a problem with a computer at uni that has me absolutely stumped. We have two identical computers - 1GHz Athlon (K7) with 256Mb RAM (PC133) on an AOpen AK33 board with a Award BIOS (1999). There are two BIOS chips, shown to be absolutely identical in every respect (code and address') by our resident technician but one of them doesn't allow any of the computers to boot, the other one allows both comuters to boot. It gets to the Verifying DMI pool data bit just before the Windows boot kicks in.

Any ideas? Quickly too because one of these is my lab computer so the quicker this is sorted the quicker I can spend research time on both research and TSF :grin: .

Cheers all.
 

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Check that all connections are plugged in securely and as should be. Take out all CD's and diskettes and then try again - if still nothing happens then try booting the PC from a bootable floppy disk. When prompted, type "sys c:" and then continue to press enter; this should now trigger a message "File system transferred" or similar - once done remove the diskette and boot the computer back up.

Still nothing?..

If the PC still does not boot then you must create a master boot record by booting from the bootable disk again. At the prompt do "fdisk /mbr" and then continue to press enter. You should then be returned back to the prompt and shouldn't give you any prompt message. Once at this stage, you should now remove the disk and reboot the computer.

If again you are still unable to solve the problem...

Make sure that all your BIOS settings are correct and as they were - i would recommend taking a note of all your BIOS settings and re-setting the CMOS. Also make sure that your HDD settings are correct and that it/they are set to auto-detect.

The chances are that you have a bad boot sector on the PC in question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Maverick, what does typing sys c: from the bootable floppy do? I don't think I need to create a new master boot record because all the hardware works fine with an identical chip so the boot record is irrelevant. I'll try resetting the CMOS.
 

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Hey Phil,

The command sys c: will copy the below files to the drive, therefore making it bootable. The files are as below;

command.com
io.sys
msdos.sys
drvspace.bin

Are you 100% sure that there is no corruption in the hard drive? I think you should try booting from disk before you go any further - it's not going to make any system changes or such, it will just filter out a potential problem; hopefully leaving us with fewer options (which is good).

edit: I forgot to mention, i had this problem myself not too long ago before my PC blew up in my face, i fixed it by formatting the hard drive and re-partitioning, although i'm sure formatting is only a final resort for you as you more than likely have valuable files on the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for the quick replies Maverick,
There is absolutely no problems with the hard drives, they both boot fine and operate fine with the working chip. Keep in mind that the chip has been tested on two IDENTICAL systems that both work perfectly with my chip. We have two of everything so troubleshooting hasn't really been much trouble. It is my opinion, and others' too, now that the hardware we have is fine but the malfunctioning chip itself has some internal error or structural defect that doesn't allow information to flow through it properly, thus not allowing the DMI pool to be verified.

We're just going to copy the program from the working chip and put it on a new one.

Any opinions?
 

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Ah, i see. In this case, the only thing you could do now is to buy a new one (that's probally something you already knew) - as far as i'm aware there's no way to fix this problem.

/me slaps self
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Linderman that option has been considered (I'm not the one doing the repair, just an advisor) and the inherent risks have been deemed unacceptable. Regardless of that, we think it is the physical chip itself that is malfunctioning, not the BIOS. We apparently have spare chips in other computers that we can use though, I'm no expert, and we have a programmer so we'll get it sorted soon.

Cheers all for your suggestions.
 

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Whilst the 2 eprom devices may have exactly the same data written inside them there is a possibility that the one that doesn't work will not accept data being written to it. Modern eeproms can have part of the memory tagged as protected which means that it's write protected. It may have been protected in this manner but that can't be verified by the average programmer (machine or person). Since you say that both devices are identical as far as content is concerned , ensure that the devices are identical also as far as paging is concerned. try copying the data, using your programmer from the working device to the other or grab a chip from an unwanted board and copy the info into it and try again. CAn you let me know what is written on top of both chips under the Bios label ? I am assuming that these chips are also in sockets .. are they SMD style with contacts on all 4 sides or the old type which plug into DIL sockets which have sharp pointed legs only down 2 sides?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, on both chips, which are the old style with two rows of pointed legs, there is written SST (manufacturer) 39SF020A 70-4C-PH 0042158-A. We will try writing to it also.
 

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Ok, on both chips, which are the old style with two rows of pointed legs, there is written SST (manufacturer) 39SF020A 70-4C-PH 0042158-A. We will try writing to it also.
It's quite obvious that one of the chips is faulty, since it won't work in the other board either. The manufacturer is SGS Thomson and its what we refer to as a 2MB device (256KB * 8bits)
Good luck and in the worst case use another 39SF020A chip which you could remove from another non-functional board. Try doing a full erase on the faulty chip before turning it into a copy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Cheers Fishin, I've passed this advice onto our technician and he seems happy to do it as a last resort to salvage it. We've got a few spare systems lying around so getting another chip shouldn't be a problem.

Cheers all for the advice.
 
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