Your computer boots for a while before coming on every time you turn it on. While booting, the BIOS chip in the motherboard communicates with the system’s operating system to initiate the startup process. Without the BIOS chip, your computer will not boot beyond the power-on self-test (POST) mode.
You may want to replace the BIOS chip at some point, or you only want to spot it. This article will show you how to identify the BIOS chip in the motherboard.
How To Identify BIOS Chip On Motherboard
There are three ways to identify the BIOS chip on the motherboard. You’ll usually find it at a particular location by looking for a label or consulting the motherboard’s manual.
The BIOS chip is usually situated at the motherboard’s far-right, below the CPU’s socket. However, this may vary in some models.
Another way to identify the BIOS chip is to check for a ‘BIOS’ label on the motherboard. However, this label is only available on newer models.
Your last and foolproof option is to consult your computer’s manual. It usually describes all motherboard components and their location.
About the BIOS
Basic Input/Output System is a computer program that uses information from a computer’s operating system to prepare components to start during booting.
Gary Kildall created the first BIOS, which featured in the CP/M operating system in 1974. Kildall used “BIOS” to describe a computer component that loads and interacts with other hardware at startup.
When you turn on your computer, it enters the power-on self-test (POST) mode. Here, the BIOS runs a self-check of the computer and its components. It will display an error message if it detects a problem. The BIOS then loads the operating system from disk into memory to initiate startup after the self-test.
The function of the BIOS doesn’t stop at startup; it also performs other essential tasks. For instance, it interacts with peripherals like a mouse and keyboard to display information on the screen. It also reads and writes sectors to the hard drive or floppy disk.
There are many other functions of the BIOS, which we shall discuss in greater detail. But, first, let’s see how the BIOS works.
HOW THE BIOS Works
The CPU activates the BIOS when your computer boots up. Your system enters the power-on self-test (POST) mode, allowing the BIOS to initiate a sequence of system checks.
The POST command instructs the CPU to examine the bus (a network of connections that connects all of the PC’s components), memory (RAM), peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc.), and disk drives.
Note that the system check is rapid but not thorough. While the inspection ensures the correct connection of all components, it doesn’t check to see if they’re all working correctly.
The CPU loads the operating system after the BIOS completes the system check. It first checks for a bootable disk in the drive. If it can’t find the OS, it scans the hardware and copies the OS into memory, making it ready for use.
Functions Of The BIOS
We already know that the BIOS performs a hardware check when you switch on your computer and load the operating system to the RAM after the inspection. But the BIOS does much more. Let’s consider the other functions of the BIOS.
Booting the OS:
We’ve focused on the BIOS self-test and startup initialization process. But the BIOS is also responsible for booting up the system in the first place. It does this through a program called the Bootstrap Loader.
The job of the Bootstrap Loader is to search and initiate the OS boot program. The OS boot program will then boot the operating system.
Storing and managing setup information:
The BIOS plays a vital role in your computer’s setup process. The BIOS doesn’t save your system’s setup information. Instead, a CMOS-based non-volatile memory (NVRAM) chip stores the memory, disk, and other settings.
CMOS chips are energy-efficient storage media that use less electricity to operate. The BIOS setup program reads the setup information in the CMOS RAM to perform an accurate setup process.
Managing data flow:
The BIOS controls data flow between the operating system and connected devices, including the hard drive, graphics card, mouse, keyboard, and printer.
After manufacturing, the BIOS store your system’s information, such as date, time, and setup information, in a non-volatile memory chip called Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS).
The BIOS also helps the computer interface with essential components, such as disks and memory, to load the operating system. After loading the basic instructions and passing the self-test, the computer can now load the operating system from one of the associated drives.
Routine system services:
The BIOS performs several software tasks initiated by higher-level software such as DOS, Windows, or their programs to perform various tasks.
Generally, BIOS programs control tasks that require access to the system hardware. These operations are reading and writing to the hard disk and data processing from peripherals.
The system uses software interrupts to access BIOS without knowing the location of each routine in memory.
Types Of BIOS
UEFI BIOS is present in modern systems. It can handle drives as large as 2.2TB or more. This ability is due to the GUID Partition Table (GP technique of newer BIOS instead of the Master Boot Record (MBR).
Older computers use legacy BIOS. Legacy BIOSes have some constraints, similar to UEFI, in that they control how the CPU and components communicate. They don’t detect drives greater than 2.1TB, and their setup tools have text-only menus.
How To Check Your Computer’s BIOS Version
Knowing your BIOS version is essential if you want to perform a BIOS update. BIOS files are specific to computer models and even revision numbers.
There are several ways to check your computer’s BIOS version.
At the Command Prompt:
To check your BIOS version via the Command Prompt, go to Start, enter “cmd” into the search panel, and click the “Command Prompt.” Enter the command “wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion,” and press Enter. Your system will display the BIOS version number.
System Information Panel:
You can also get your BIOS version number via the System Information box. Hold the Windows+R keys, type “msinfo32” in the Run box, and press Enter.
Should You Update Your BIOS?
Updating your BIOS can improve system performance and resolve issues. However, updating your BIOS can be risky. Your computer will become useless if something goes wrong with the process.
On the manufacturer’s website, read and compare the release notes of the most recent version with the one you have installed. The release notes will indicate significant new features or bug fixes.
How To Update Your BIOS
Follow the steps below to update your system’s BIOS. The process is the same for both UEFI and legacy versions.
Note your system’s make and model:
This information is crucial. You’ll find it somewhere on the computer board. BIOS versions are subtly different, and each can apply to a specific make and model. BIOS files are also specific to revision numbers, so you should note that.
Download the latest BIOS version:
Visit the manufacturer’s website and check for your model’s BIOS latest version.
Download the file for the latest version if it’s available. Older BIOS installations ran the setup from a USB using a flash program in the installation file after entering a command. The BIOS of modern boards now includes a built-in utility that eliminates the need for a flash program.
So the download file only contains the update and a text file of the release notes. Before you proceed, read installation instructions on the manufacturer’s website, as they may vary with different BIOS updates.
Backup your computer files before you update your BIOS. Sometimes your computer may prompt you to back up your files during the process.
Updating BIOS On Windows 10
You can’t update your BIOS on Windows 10 in most motherboards. You can still work around it. First, reboot the system and enter the BIOS menu. Next, search for an option like M Flash Q Flash or EZ Flash. Follow the instructions to complete the process.
Some BIOS manufacturers provide a Windows update utility file, which includes an option to backup BIOS data. After backing up, look for an online download option in the menu and click on it. An Auto Select option is available to switch to another option if the server doesn’t respond.
After downloading the latest version, click on the update BIOS from the file. Some updated utility files display a final page that compares the old and new BIOS versions.
Double-check the information and proceed with the update if satisfied. Click Update or Flash. Reboot your system when the process is over to effect the changes.
There are three ways to identify the BIOS chip in the motherboard. The first way is to look behind the CPU’s socket at the bottom-left of the motherboard.
The second way is to look for a “BIOS’ label. It usually comes prefixed with some letters. Older models, however, don’t have this label. So, your last option would be to consult the motherboard manual.
Updating your BIOS current version is possible but requires caution as a hitch in the process will render your system useless. Updates help to fix bugs and improve system performance, especially with newer processors.