Sunday, July 15, 2007

Motherboard joys

On July 4th I ordered a Foxconn 6150K8MA-8EKRS Socket 939 mobo and an Opteron 165 1.8GHz dual-core processor in order to upgrade my grayin' FreeBSD 5.4 box from the 32-bit to the 64-bit version (amd64) of the latest 6.2 stable release. The parts were ordered from Newegg, one of the best web retailers for electronics purchases, IMHO. I've purchased several items from them over the years and ne'er a problem.

Anyway, I received the parts and slapped the system together with two 512MB DDR333 sticks I had lying around, then added the old FreeBSD box's 40GB Seagate ST340014A hard drive, its CDRW drive, and its 1.44MB floppy. Yes, I still use floppy drives ;). Fired it up and everything worked great and my private DNS, web, and mysql servers I had been running on the old FreeBSD box ran fine on the new Opteron box. No problems at all.

I decided to update the P28 BIOS (circa 11/2005) to the latest P40 (6/2006) before migrating to FreeBSD 6.2 (amd64) on the new box and that's when the fun began. I downloaded the latest 54AW1P40 BIOS and attempted to flash from floppy. In hindsight, I should of simply booted the machine and flashed it from a USB flash drive rather than the dusty floppy drive, but gee-whiz I've flashed BIOSes countless times over the years and never had an issue. This time, however, the floppy drive LED remained on for an inordinate period of time and I, naturally, suspected that the flash update was likely unsuccessful and the BIOS was now corrupted.

Nevertheless, in the vain hope that it might have flashed successfully, I commenced a hard-reset, thinking the floppy might have merely got stuck after the flashing process for some unknown reason. Nope, upon reboot the screen remained blank and no POST at all. Well, needless to say, I was a bit perturbed to say the least at that point since I needed this system up and running ASAP since it was running the aformentioned services.

I knew when it wouldn't boot and didn't POST that the BIOS was trashed. So, I ordered another PLCC BIOS chip from BIOSMAN, Inc. this past Thursday and received the new chip Saturday via mail. Now, that's fast for mail delivery ;). Plopped it in and now I gots a working board. Yay!

So if you have a "bad flash day" or need a Phoenix, Award, or AMI BIOS for any reason I highly recommend ordering one from BIOSMAN, Inc. Although my issue was concerning a newly purchased mobo, any old mobo you may be thinkin' of trashin' because of a bad BIOS may still have some useful life left in it with a replaced BIOS chip.