BIOS (+CMOS) on (for example) micro SD card

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BIOS (+CMOS) on (for example) micro SD card

Postby njsharp » Sun May 23, 2010 3:58 pm

Greetings from a forum newbie, but long experienced in some aspects of computing and networking.

I have recently started buying MBs and might well have begun a new addiction were it not for a Bad Experience flashing a BIOS, and FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FFing the MAC address, AND no longer being able to re-flash! Such is life. RMA-time!

It led me to this idea, and this forum seems a great place to share it, since I am too lazy to try and discover the real email addresses of the world's MB manufacturers. Hopefully some of them read this. Is there no MB manufacturer's association?

If the idea is already out there, old, tired and discredited ... please forgive! Feel free to chide me I have just reinvented a square wheel.

To manufacturers and specifiers of motherboards
I recently had a problem with flashing the BIOS on a motherboard, such
that it finished up lacking a valid MAC address and seemed unable to be
re-flashed. It had to be returned to its manufacturer.

It occured to me that it might be very good if you all worked together
to devise a hardware, software and data format standard for BIOS which
used a socketed chip SUCH AS the microSD card, which apparently
(See: wikipedia's entry MicroSD) offers from 64Mb to 32Gb in a tiny package 15mm x 11mm x 1mm

Your technical folk may tell you that the micro SD itself is not
suitable, but I suspect the concept of devising something similar has
merit and is obviously possible. Such a card is so small that you
could easily house 2 of them, and thus adopt an approach used by Cisco
for example in its now obsolete 2500 router:

There were two flash memory card slots for storing the operating
system, and if you had populated both of them, and kept them
separately used (not joined as one larger store), then you could run
the OS from one card (which made it read only) and were able to write
a new OS onto the other card. A reboot would allow the new version to
be used instead, and a simple procedure would allow you to revert to
the old version if there was a problem.

you could even add a jumper override to allow you to force use of slot 'A|B' after a bad flash.

So you could perhaps have a tiny double socket (about the size of a USB
header) on each motherboard for two micro SD cards, and maybe they
could hold not just the BIOS but also the BIOS parameters usually stored
on CMOS memory backed by a CR2032 battery. I believe micro SD
cards have no need of battery backup, so the space saved by eliminating
the battery would surely over-compensate for having the double socket.

One popular socket for a micro SD card, as I am sure you know,
resembles a standard SD card, thus allowing it to be used in place of
an ordinary SD card. This offers the following possibility in the
event of making a complete mess of both BIOS cards:

Provide software (for Windows, MAC, AND LINUX of course!!!!!) that
supports the following:

1 EVENT: You have wrecked the BIOS on both microSD cards! (:-((
2 Put a spare microSD card in an SD card-sized holder
3 Load the holder in a USB|internal card reader on another PC
4 Write a new BIOS to the spare with world-wide standard SW
(Of course, the BIOS and parameters are specific to the relevant MB)
5 Replace the faulty micro SD card(s) with the new one
6 Reboot and enjoy (:-)) minutes later, with no return needed!

I hope you like this idea and can work towards it. I hereby place
this work into the public domain, though I would be quite surprised if
my idea is completely new. However, it must either be NOT incredibly
obvious or (b) seriously flawed, or you would have done it already.

Perhaps one of you has!

However, Googling for "bios on microsd" gives no results!

You might object that the price of microSD cards and sockets is more
than that of the current flash chip. It probably is, and manufacture
might well be slightly more complicated. However, against that, you
could offset the cost of the obsoleted battery arrangements, and
factor in possible operational savings such as:

1 no returns needed any longer for bad flashing
(If the end user is not capable, it could be done by the retailer)
2 it would be easy to retrofit corrected BIOS to boards already made

Enjoy or throw!
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Postby fussnfeathers » Sun May 23, 2010 4:48 pm

Couple of problems with that. BIOS chips are quite cheap, and most higher-end boards have removable, socketed chips. Aside from the manufacturer, there are a few reliable sites that can repair a bad flash. I believe both Gigabyte and Asus have crash-free BIOS chips, but I'm not entirely sure on that one. They're able to recover from a bad flash without any real hassle.

For the most part, the greater majority of computer users don't even know what a BIOS is, nor how to even get into it. OEM builders, the greatest bulk of machines out there, tend to hide that info, they don't WANT you doing this. For the rest of us, we ought to know how to do this, and be willing to take the time to research that we've got the correct BIOS for the board we're flashing. Personally, I have yet to screw up a BIOS flash. Well, except the one time I lost power to the house, but that wasn't my fault.

BIOS's don't need to be flashed as often as folks think they do, anyway. If you're adding a new piece of hardware, you might want to check, but I, and pretty much anybody else here, will STRONGLY advise you to take your computer to a service tech with experience, if you've never done it before, or are the least bit nervous.

Finally, BIOS sizes are mostly dependent on the chip size, using a large, microSD card for a couple of KB of information is much more expensive, and wasteful, than using existing, proven, age-old tech for something that's really a simple part of the computer. Plus, using readily available, removable chips would be a nightmare for warranty support. Don't count on this happening anytime soon.
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Postby AmEv » Mon May 24, 2010 6:45 am

Dual BIOS, right?

That way, if one toasts itself, the other one still works and copies itself into the other one. Correct?
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Postby Copper » Mon May 24, 2010 9:02 am

AmEv wrote:Dual BIOS, right?

That way, if one toasts itself, the other one still works and copies itself into the other one. Correct?

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Postby evasive » Mon May 24, 2010 3:32 pm

That what Gigabyte was once using and have stopped using now? Unsure if it's still there on their boards?
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Postby fussnfeathers » Mon May 24, 2010 9:28 pm

That was the part I'm not sure about. Asus use Crash-Free BIOS now, can be flashed from a USB stick as well. The Asus version has allows you to save two different BIOS's, pushing a button on the board allows you to select which BIOS to boot from. Gigabyte used something similar, but I don't see where they do now.
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