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Determining the Motherboard Manufacturer for BIOS Upgrades

Although knowing the BIOS brand and version is sufficient for troubleshooting a system that won't start, solving problems with issues such as large hard disk support and power management requires knowing exactly which motherboard you have and who produced it. Because motherboard manufacturers tailor BIOS code to the needs of each motherboard model, the motherboard or system vendor—not the BIOS vendor—is the source to turn to for BIOS upgrades and other BIOS configuration issues.

Identifying Motherboards with AMI BIOS

Motherboards using AMI BIOS versions built from 1991 to the present (AMI's High-Flex BIOS or WinBIOS) display a long string of numbers at the bottom of the first screen that is displayed when the system is powered on or restarted:


Interpret a number such as this one with the following numerical key (see Table 3.7):






Processor type:


0 = 8086 or 8088


2 = 286


3 = 386


4 = 486


5 = Pentium


6 = Pentium Pro/II/III/Celeron/Athlon/Duron


Size of BIOS:


0 = 64K BIOS


1 = 128K BIOS


2 = 256K BIOS


Major and minor BIOS version number


Manufacturer license code reference number:


0036xx = AMI 386 motherboard, xx = Series #


0046xx = AMI 486 motherboard, xx = Series #


0056xx = AMI Pentium motherboard, xx = Series #


0066xx = AMI Pentium Pro motherboard, xx = Series #


(For other numbers, see the following note)


1 = Halt on POST error


1 = Initialize CMOS every boot


1 = Block pins 22 and 23 of the keyboard controller


1 = Mouse support in BIOS/keyboard controller


1 = Wait for F1 key on POST errors


1 = Display floppy error during POST


1 = Display video error during POST


1 = Display keyboard error during POST


BIOS Date, mm/dd/yy


Chipset identifier or BIOS name


Keyboard controller version number


Use the following resources to determine the manufacturer of non-AMI motherboards using the AMI BIOS:

AMI has a listing of U.S. and non-U.S. motherboard manufacturers at http://www.ami.com/support/bios.html.

AMI also offers a downloadable utility program called AMIMBID for use with Windows 9x/2000/NT/Me/XP, and MS-DOS. Download it from http://www.ami.com/support/mbid.html.

A more detailed listing, including complete identification of particular motherboard models, is available at Wim's BIOS site (http://www.wimsbios.com). This site also has links to motherboard manufacturers for BIOS upgrades.

Identifying Motherboards with Award BIOS

Motherboards with the Award Software BIOS also use a numerical code, although the structure is different from that for the AMI Hi-Flex BIOS.

The following is a typical Award BIOS ID:


The sixth and seventh characters (bolded for emphasis) indicate the motherboard manufacturer, whereas the eighth character can be used for the model number or the motherboard family (various motherboards using the same chipset).


For lookup tables of these codes, see the following Web sites:

Award Software's official table for manufacturers only is available at http://www.phoenix.com/pcuser/phoenixbios/motherboard.html.

An expanded list, also containing chipset information (stored in the first five characters of the Award BIOS ID), is available at Wim's BIOS site (http://www.wimsbios.com).

Identifying Motherboards with Phoenix or Microid Research BIOS

Unfortunately, neither Phoenix nor Microid Research (MR BIOS) uses any type of a standardized motherboard ID number system.

For systems using a Phoenix BIOS, see whether your motherboard or system is listed on the Micro Firmware BIOS upgrades page. Links from this page for Intel and Micronics motherboards list the codes that show up onscreen during boot. Match these codes to your system, and you might be able to use a Micro Firmware upgrade. Most MR BIOS (Microid Research BIOS) installations are done as upgrades rather than in original equipment. See the list of supported chipsets (identified by chipset brand and model, not motherboard vendor) and motherboards using Intel's Triton-series chipsets to see whether your system can use an MR BIOS, or contact Microid Research directly for system-specific information.

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