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Browse Prior Art Database

Automatic BIOS Recovery (ABR) with full image checking

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015405D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jun-11
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 3 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This invention describes a recovery method for a computer system that has corrupted initialization, or boot code. This is done using checksum for detecting the corruption and a backup copy of the boot code for recovery. In systems based on the original IBM PC, the boot code is know as BIOS (Basic Input Output System) and is stored in an EEPROM. The BIOS contains the first code that the CPU runs when the system is powered up or reinitialized. Early systems using the IBM PC architecture used a socketed BIOS EEPROM on the system. This allowed replacement of the EEPROM instead of the entire system board if it was defective. Today not all systems use a socket. The EEPROM may be soldered directly to the system board to improve reliability and reduce cost. In this case replacing the EEPROM in the field is not an option. In many cases the BIOS EEPROM itself is not defective, but the code it contains has become corrupted. The BIOS EEPROM can normally be reflashed using a diskette. However, a corrupted BIOS may not allow the system to boot properly and use the diskette drive. One solution to this problem is to have a backup copy of the BIOS on the system board, either in a separate EEPROM or in the same EEPROM in a different address space. The position of a jumper on the system board determines whether the primary or backup copy of the BIOS is used to boot the system. Normally the system boots using the primary BIOS. In the event of a problem with the primary BIOS, the jumper is switched to the other position and the backup BIOS is used. The procedure to use to recover from a corrupted BIOS EEPROM using a backup jumper is as follows:

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Automatic BIOS Recovery (ABR) with full image checking

This invention describes a recovery method for a computer system that has corrupted initialization, or boot code. This is done using checksum for detecting the corruption and a backup copy of the boot code for recovery. In systems based on the original IBM PC, the boot code is know as BIOS (Basic Input Output System) and is stored in an EEPROM. The BIOS contains the first code that the CPU runs when the system is powered up or reinitialized.

Early systems using the IBM PC architecture used a socketed BIOS EEPROM on the system. This allowed replacement of the EEPROM instead of the entire system board if it was defective. Today not all systems use a socket. The EEPROM may be soldered directly to the system board to improve reliability and reduce cost. In this case replacing the EEPROM in the field is not an option.

In many cases the BIOS EEPROM itself is not defective, but the code it contains has become corrupted. The BIOS EEPROM can normally be reflashed using a diskette. However, a corrupted BIOS may not allow the system to boot properly and use the diskette drive.

One solution to this problem is to have a backup copy of the BIOS on the system board, either in a separate EEPROM or in the same EEPROM in a different address space. The position of a jumper on the system board determines whether the primary or backup copy of the BIOS is used to boot the system. Normally the system boots using the primary BIOS. In the event of a problem with the primary BIOS, the jumper is switched to the other position and the backup BIOS is used. The procedure to use to recover from a corrupted BIOS EEPROM using a backup jumper is as follows:

1. Get the system in position to remove covers.
2. Power off the system and disconnect power cord and external cables
3. Locate and switch the Flash ROM jumper. This will probably require being in a well lit area or use of a flashlight.

Some cables may have to be repositioned to expose the jumper.
4. Boot the system from its backup BIOS.
5. Get or create a BIOS flash diskette for this system. The image may need to be located and downloaded from the WEB.
6. Boot from this diskette and re-flash the primary BIOS
7. Power off the system and disconnect the power cord
8. Move jumper back to the primary (default) setting
9. Verify that the primary BIOS works
10. Re-install covers, reconnect cables, and return the system back to its original position

However, many times the root cause of the problem is not identified and the procedure is not used, even though it could be used to recover the system. A corrupted Primary BIOS load will cause the system to hang at the start of its boot process (blank screen, no beep codes, or 1-1-4 Beep indicating BIOS checksum error). This type of hang could be caused by a number of faults (CPU, Chip Set, flash, voltage/Power Supply, incomplete flash update) and is thus very difficult to diagnose. Even our most skilled service people have repl...