As I mentioned earlier, the computer without software or firmware is essentially useless. For most of our day to day use, the main operating system Windows, Linux Before the computer can access the main OS, it's going to need a little help. The information in the BIOS allows the computer to interface with the monitor, keyboard and mouse among other things until the OS can take over. That memory is used to store the values entered when you set up the computer's BIOS parameters.
This page shows some of the various setting and will tell, briefly what the setting affect in the computer's operation. Before I go any further, I should tell you that you should not go into the BIOS unless you either know what you're doing or you're working on a computer that is unimportant to you or anyone who may need it.
While it's relatively difficult to destroy data by changing values in the BIOS, it IS easy to make changes that would prevent the computer from booting. Generally, there is no mouse capability in the BIOS. Some of the newer motherboards have mouse capability but can be navigated with the arrow keys as well. To get to the BIOS screen, you have to follow the instructions when the computer just starts to boot.
For many motherboards, you hit the delete key to enter the BIOS. As you can see, this BIOS is for a motherboard purchased in Others may have a different type of BIOS and may look significantly different. For most motherboards, the owner's manual is available online at the manufacturer's web site.
If you're unsure, you can almost always find help on one of the computer forums like the Major Geeks forum. This is the first page you'll see when you get into this particular BIOS. The appearance and features of the various BIOS configurations from various manufacturers vary significantly. This is the screen where you set the system clock and set several of the drive parameters. The next screen is the result. The screen shows the various drive parameters.
Here, we want to let the BIOS set the parameters if the drive is capable. Some older drives don't have the capability to communicate that information to the BIOS and the parameters have to be set manually. Thankfully, most of the older drives have been taken out of service. Super-boot allows the computer to start faster by storing certain basic system information in memory. If the BIOS information is completely destroyed, the computer can not be booted and, if the BIOS IC isn't replaceable installed in a socket vs soldered in place , the motherboard has to be replaced.
The SuperRecovery allows you to partition off the drive in a way that nothing can access it from the OS nothing -- not partitioning software or malware -- nothing. It is supposed to offer the highest level of protection for your data. The This is an image of the initial SuperRecovery screen. The next feature is the SuperSpeed feature. It allows you to increase the speed of the processor but you have to be careful. Generally, this presents no serious problem except for all of the settings going back to the default settings.
Below is a picture of the 'clear CMOS' jumper inside the dotted yellow line. If you ever need to clear the CMOS memory, you simply remove power from the computer, move the jumper from pins 1 and 2 to pins 2 and 3. After a second, return the jumper to pins 1 and 2 and restart the computer.
The BIOS settings will now be as they were when you initially powered up the machine. On this board, it's soldered directly to the board but these are often installed in sockets to allow quick replacement. The orange arrow points to the backup battery. This retains the CMOS settings when no power is applied to the motherboard. The battery rarely needs replacing but if you're working on an old machine, you should check it to confirm that its voltage is approximately the rated voltage generally 3v.
The yellow arrow points to the clear CMOS header. As you can see, a shunt is installed across pins 1 and 2. If you're unsure about the pin numbering on a header, there are often indicators like the white triangle red arrow. On this board, there is also a number 3 but there aren't always numbers. The image above is a Flash graphic so you can right-click and zoom in on it. You can click HERE to open it in a new window.
A couple more notes about the CMOS. As was stated previously, clearing the CMOS memory restores the system to what it was when the system was powered up for the first time. Generally, the computer will function after clearing the CMOS but for advanced systems there are some things you should know. Any over-clocking settings will be lost. This won't cause any problems but could be annoying if you have to find the sweet-spot for the system.
If this happens and you don't know how to reconfigure the RAID array, try to find someone who does. If you were running a RAID array, it was likely done for a reason security against hard drive failure or for better performance.
If you reload the operating system on one of the drives because you can't reonfigure the array , you will lose the benefit of the array and will lose all information on the drives. The header is almost always near the battery large silver coin-cell battery.
On some motherboards, there is an alternate way to clear the CMOS. On THIS motherboard, you can see that there is a switch on the back of the board. This is convenient but you have to be aware that it's there if you're reaching around the back of the computer trying to plug something in. If you accidentally push the button, it will clear the CMOS.
There are too many features here to cover them all but you should notice a few. The 'quick POST' is enabled allowing even faster booting. Below that, you can see that you have options for the boot order of the various drives.
Here, we have told the computer to boot to the CD ROM first and if you don't find a boot record, boot from the hard drive. To shave a few seconds off of the boot time, you can have it boot to the hard drive first but if you need to run something like True Image recovery, you will need to go into the BIOS and set it to boot from the CD ROM first.
Next, we enter the 'Advanced Chipset Features'. You may also notice the SPD entries. The SPD is information about the memory. This information is used by the BIOS to set the proper memory parameters. In the DRAM clock section, you can see that there are three choices. Here, there is no overclocking. For the best stability, you should set it to 'By SPD'. The 'timing' is the number of clock pulses between certain events in the memory's operation.
When overclocking, these numbers become important in getting the best possible performance. Here, we enter the IDE device page. Below, you can see several of the choices. All of the settings are set to auto here. When a drive operates in PIO mode, all of the data passes through the processor.
This is much more efficient and it frees up the processor. The specific functions that you'll need are dependent on the system you're building. Here, we will enter the Super IO page. Below, we enter the 'Power Management' section.
This page allows you to control the way the computer shuts down. There are options for when you use the power button to shut the computer down and when the computer is shut down automatically. On this page you can see a setting that needs to be changed.
This seems counterintuitive it is actually, if you ask me. This is better done outside of the OS so the proper setting should be no. Here we enter the 'PC Health Status' page. This page tells you several things including the processor's core temperature, the system temperature, the operating speed of two fans and two of the power supply voltages. The CPU core voltage is not produced directly by the computer's switching power supply.
It is converted from one of the power supply outputs by a switching regulator. When starting a newly assembled system, it's a good idea to visit this page above as soon as you boot the system.
While it's possible for a processor to run at 60c 60 degrees celcius under a heavy load, it should not run that hot at idle. If your processor is running hot, shut it down and check the heatsink mounting. If you can't see it directly, a small mirror and a flashlight will usually help. Be sure that the computer is unplugged from the wall outlet when you are working inside the cabinet. While there is only low voltage present, if you accidentally short anything with the system powered up, you may do serious damage.
Remember that there is at least one 5 volt supply that has voltage even when the computer is off. The 'auto Detect' setting determines whether the system clock oscillator not time clock is on or off when there is no memory or PCI card in the slot. The 'Spread Spectrum' setting controls whether the clock frequency is constant or varying.