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BIOS Configurations and Upgrades

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BIOS Configurations and Upgrades

What the BIOS Is and What It Does

The BIOS (basic input/output system) chip on the computer's motherboard is designed to provide the essential interfacing between hardware (such as drives, the clock, the CPU, the chipset, and video) and software (the operating system). While video, some SCSI, and a few IDE add-on cards might also have BIOS chips that help manage those devices, whenever I refer to the computer's BIOS chip, I mean the one on the motherboard. The BIOS chip is often referred to as the ROM BIOS, because in its traditional form it was a read-only memory chip with contents that could not be changed. Later versions could be reprogrammed with an EEPROM programmer, and beginning in the early 1990s, BIOSes using flash memory (Flash BIOS) began to appear. Flash BIOSes can be reprogrammed through software, and virtually all BIOSes on Pentium-class machines and beyond are flash upgradable.

Regardless of its form, the BIOS chip on the motherboard is also known as the system BIOS.

When a BIOS Update Is Necessary

The following list shows the primary benefits of a ROM BIOS upgrade:

  • Adds LS-120 (120MB) floppy drive support (also known as a SuperDrive)

  • Adds support for hard drives greater than 8GB

  • Adds support for Ultra-DMA/33 or faster IDE hard drives

  • Adds support for bootable ATAPI CD-ROM drives

  • Adds or improves Plug-and-Play support and compatibility

  • Corrects year-2000 and leap-year bugs

  • Corrects known bugs or compatibility problems with certain hardware and software

  • Adds support for newer types of processors

In general, if your computer is incapable of using all the features of new software or hardware, you might need a BIOS upgrade.


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