Only for programmers and BIOS gurus with technical questions.
#41195 by jpwise
Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:07 pm
Possibly this should be in the notebooks or utilities thread, but looking at the questions in both of those this may be the best place for it (if mod disaggrees please move to correct thread). Thx.

Alot of these questions appear to have been touched on over the years looking at the threads, but not all of them have definitive answers that I can locate.

Ive recently delved back into reading up on the intricacies of bios upgrades. I work in a laptop service centre, and we do updates on a routine basis. Usually without issue. The only one I've had die was a Gateway about 3 years ago, it was also the last time I looked into flash updates. I've now had a junior in the workshop kill the bios on an older Dell Latitude CPi. Fortuneatly it wasn't a customers machine (inhouse), and to make life even easier again it was socketed and we had another dead CPi board with a good bios on hand.

It did however re-raise my interest in reflashing the chips. I've made arrangements to buy a universal programmer (Top2005 - usb cheapy, but should be good enough), and for the moment a PLCC32 adapter. I haven't worked with reflashing bios's directly to chip before, but my understanding so far is.

1) Flash file needs to be in binary format.
2) Flash file needs to be full (and correct) size for flash chip.

As far as I can tell it looks like the Dell's can be convinced into producing a romfile dump by using the -writeromfile command, but I can test this properly once the flash programmer arrives.

The newer Acer's, Toshiba's etc, appear to be all the new WinPhlash based updates, although they do have a Dos version which also uses the same WPH file. So question group #2
1) The WPH file doesn't appear to be pure binary. For one the filesize is too large by a few bytes.
2) Can the WPH file be extracted/converted back to a standard binary romfile? From what I've read phcomp might be able to do something along these lines but it only appears to be available as part of the BNOBTC collection which isn't available anymore, and surprisingly not mirrored anywhere that I can find either.

Third group of questions is on the IBM's. From what I've read they're essentially a phoenix flash, and you can back up their existing bios from windows using the winphlash utility (with dummy file to enable backup option etc), however:
1) you need a running system to do the backup, and
2) as above, can it be converted back to binary.
3) or ideally can the .fl1 and/or .fl2/fl3 (apparently renamed bios.rom & platform.bin) be converted to standard binary?

Finally (altho unlikely to be the end), the HP/CPQ's. The crisis recovery method wasn't around last time I looked into it and I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it until I delved back into the bios stuff. Nice system, FN/WIN-B or special LPT port jumpering to enable recovery mode, then reflashes from floppy. Assuming this system's as failsafe/foolproof as it can be in theory I don't need access to binary's for this, however.
1) apparently phoenix based again, and can be backed up/reflashed from windows.
2) once again, can it be converted to binary if required.

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Most of my previous experience has been with the Award/AMI bios's where they're all more or less pure bin files (afaik). I did also play with modbin some years ago to change some acpi stuff on my desktop at the time. Now that my interest in bios has been revived I'd like to try and find out as much of the above as possible.

Also from what I've read it might be possible (/easier) to use uniflash on some of these machines to take backups of the existing rom. However given that apparently the dell's can dump the rom from updater I'd be a little (altho not hugely) surprised if the other manufacturer updaters can't dump a similar rom.

Thanks for any advice/suggestions any of you can give.
With that it's time I got some sleep. It's 1am, and I have work in the morning.

Thx.
Jp.