BIOS Upgrade Guide 2016

09 March 2016    Source:

 

The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is the first code which automatically runs when the system is switched on. It initially performs a power-on self-test to check the basic hardware components in your system. It then locates the peripheral device which holds the operating system such as a hard drive or CD/DVD and then loads and executes that software.

Supermicro motherboards have a rewritable flash ROM (the BIOS chip) which can be reprogrammed when an update is required.

An update (or flash) may be necessary to ensure optimal system operation. If the BIOS is outdated, then your computer may not be able to use certain hardware features and there may be known bugs which could be corrected by an update.

At Boston we only use motherboards from our close partner Supermicro.

Therefore, you can download the latest BIOS for all motherboards provided by Boston at their website here:
http://www.supermicro.com/support/bios/

Alternatively, you can find a link to the latest BIOS directly on the specific motherboard or server product page found on Supermicro's website, under the heading of 'Links & Resources'.

BIOS UPDATE PROCESS

1. Download the latest BIOS for your motherboard from the Supermicro website. You will need a DOS bootable USB flash drive. If you do not have a DOS bootable USB flash drive please see Appendix A on how to create one.

2. Extract the downloaded BIOS files from the zip file and copy them to a created folder on the USB flash drive such as 'BIOS'. The extracted BIOS files will generally include the following:

  • AFUDOS.SMC - This is the DOS utility for flashing the BIOS.
  • Ami.bat or Flash.bat - This is the script used to invoke the flash utility with the necessary parameters to flash the BIOS successfully.
  • Readme - Instructions, you can consult these for further reference.
  • X10DRi15.A16 - this is an example ROM file for an X10DRi motherboard, the 5.A16 indicates the release date, with the above example being 16/10/2015 (A=Oct, B=Nov, C=Dec etc.). The ROM file included in your package will be named in a similar format.

3. While the system is off, insert the USB flash drive into the system you wish to perform the update. Now power up the system, and enter the BIOS by pressing the delete or 'del' key during boot up (immediately after power on, when prompted by the on screen splash). Once in the BIOS, scroll over to the BOOT tab; here you can select the boot device priority option by pressing enter. Once in the boot device priority, you can select the USB flash drive to be highest priority. Occasionally, USB flash drives are detected as hard disks; therefore you should check the hard disk priority and bring the drive to the top of this list if you cannot immediately find it.

Alternatively, on most Supermicro motherboards, you can press F11 during boot up which will present a boot device menu. Here you will be able to select the USB drive to boot from.

Before proceeding to flash the BIOS, it is recommended that you take a note/screenshots of your current BIOS settings so they can be re-entered after flashing as they will be wiped. For details of important settings, refer to Appendix B below.

4. Save and Exit the BIOS (Or go straight to step 5 if the above F11 method was used).

5. The system will then boot to a C:\ prompt within DOS. If not then please check steps 1 and 3 again.

6. At the C:\ prompt, you need to navigate to the location you saved the BIOS files. For example, if saved in a root folder called bios then use the following command: cd bios

If necessary, you can use the dir command to view files in the currently navigated folder. This should show the various files such as AFUDOS.SMC, AMI.bat or FLASH.bat and the BIOS ROM file itself.

The BIOS ROM should now be ready to flash by invoking the flash utility followed by the BIOS ROM filename such as in the following example: ami.bat X10DRi15.A16

Please include the file extension in the command and also be sure to type 'flash.bat' or 'ami.bat' depending on the package you downloaded.

The system will then automatically begin the flash procedure - it is important that you do not power off or reboot the system at this point as corruption will occur and the system will likely require RMA service.

The whole process will take anything from 30 seconds to several minutes. Once the flash is complete, you will be prompted to reboot the system. If there are any problems or during flashing or the process did not complete successfully, please refer to Appendix C.

Remove the USB flash drive and reboot the system. After rebooting, you may receive a 'CMOS Checksum error', it informs the user that the CMOS values have been reset and is normal behaviour. This means the BIOS settings will need to be reconfigured.

9. Enter the BIOS by pressing 'del' or otherwise as prompted, then reconfigure your BIOS with those settings recorded in step 3 above.

10. Save and Exit the BIOS. The BIOS update is now complete.

APPENDIX A - CREATING A BOOTABLE USB DRIVE

1. To create a bootable USB flash drive you will need to insert it into a Windows system and backup any existing files on it first, as this procedure will format the drive and the contents will be lost. However, you can copy your files back when the process is finished and the drive will remain bootable. A utility will be required to create the bootable USB drive. Rufus is an open source bootable USB creator which can be downloaded from the link below which we find useful for this process: https://rufus.akeo.ie

2. Download and run the program. You will be presented with the screen below.

3. Ensure the USB flash drive is detected and is selected in the dropdown menu. Rufus will reformat your drive and erase all data. Data loss could occur if an incorrect drive is selected so be sure to check this before proceeding. Once the drive is confirmed, ensure the Quick Format box is ticked and then click the Start button. You may leave all other settings as they are in the screenshot.

4. Congratulations, your USB flash drive is now bootable. You may now copy any files back to the drive if necessary.

APPENDIX B - BIOS SETTINGS TO NOTE

Flashing the BIOS erases all previously saved settings; this means you must re-enter your settings after flashing.

Advisable settings to record for your BIOS:

1. Date & Time

2. SATA options, this can be found under the Advanced tab > SATA configuration. The options that typically need to be noted are SATA Mode > IDE, AHCI or RAID. Please note that these options may vary depending on your motherboard.

If the incorrect setting is configured here, the OS could become corrupted if a boot is attempted, so be sure to set this correctly before allowing the system to fully boot.

Therefore, if your system does not boot to the installed OS after updating, then please check this list to ensure you have selected the correct option and the boot device priority.

3. Ensure to check the boot chain is specified with your boot device at the top of the list. This can be found in the Boot tab which lists the various boot device options and priorities. Please note some settings will vary depending on your specific system. You can find further details of the motherboard BIOS options from the motherboard manual found here.

APPENDIX C1 - TROUBLESHOOTING

If your flash does not start, below are some suggestions which could rectify the problem:

1. Double check the command line for any typos.

2. Ensure you have included the file extension.

3. Ensure you are using the correct command function; there are two variations of such, one which is 'flash' and the other is 'ami'. To check which bat file you have, simply type 'dir'. This will list the files within the folder you are in.

4. It is possible that the BIOS file may have become corrupt when transferring it to the USB flash drive, try copying the files over again from the Supermicro website.

5. Ensure you have the correct BIOS files for your specific motherboard. A BIOS list can be found here.

6. Use an alternative USB flash drive.

7. Perform the BIOS Recovery Procedure. See Appendix C2 for details

APPENDIX C2 - BIOS EMERGENCY RECOVERY PROCEDURE

If for some reason the flash fails part way through programming or there is an error, please retry the flash without rebooting - often this will complete successfully a second time.

However if the system is no longer responding and can no longer boot, you may need to use the emergency recovery procedure below.

When performing this procedure, do not power off the system, it will reboot automatically when it has completed. The procedure may take up to 5 - 10mins to complete.

1. Using an alternative system, copy the BIOS files onto a USB bootable flash drive. Rename the BIOS ROM file to 'super.rom' and ensure the BIOS files are saved in the root directory of the USB flash drive.

2. Insert the USB flash drive into the system which requires recovery and power on the system. Right after powering on, simultaneously press 'ctrl' and 'home' keys. The keys may need to be pressed several times.

3. It may take a few seconds or a minute for the process to start. The keyboard LEDS may turn on and the system may produce long sound signals. This is expected. Please note that there will be nothing shown on the display during the flash.

4. After a few minutes, the system will sound four short beeps which signals the flash is complete. The system will then automatically reboot itself.

5. A 'CMOS Checksum' message may be displayed; you must press F1 to enter the BIOS to input your desired settings. After doing so, save and exit the BIOS.

6. If the recovery procedure fails, then please submit a technical ticket via the Boston website here.

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