KarbosGuide.com. Module 2a.3
Using the system software of the motherboard
What can I use the Setup program for?
The Setup program can do many things for you. However,
be careful. You should not change any values within the menus, unless you
know what you are doing. Otherwise your PC may not function properly.
You have to enter Setup, if you install a different type or additional
disk drive in your PC. Certain BIOSs will also need adjustment of its settings,
if a CDROM drive is installed on one of the EIDE channels.
The Standard values
The standard values in the CMOS Setup are used to configure:
The date and time.
The diskette drive.
EIDE units number 1-4 (typically hard disks and CD-ROM-drive).
The values for date and time are stored in the CMOS RAM. You can always
change them, from Setup or from DOS, Windows or any other OS.
The keyboard - obviously it has to be there. But it is possible to configure
the PC to work without a keyboard. Otherwise the PC will error if
the keyboard is missing.
The display is always VGA. From older times the Setup gives you options
as EGA, CGA and MDA. You won't need them!
Diskette drive has to be selected. You can choose to have A: or B: or
both. Each drive can be of five types or more. You probably have the 1.44
MB floppy drive. You choose among the options using [PgUp] and [PgDn].
Modern super floppies like Zip and LS120 are not to be installed as diskette
drives, they are EIDE units.
The hard disk is the most important unit to install in this part of
the Setup. With the modern motherboards and the EIDE drives you may experience
an automatic configuration during the Auto detect . In other situations
you have to run the auto detect yourself. With older drives, you have to
enter all the CHS-values for the drive (number of cylinders, heads and
The BIOS Feature Setup
The Feature Setup is the next layer in the CMOS setup. Here you can choose
among options like:
Quick execution of POST (a good thing).
Choice of boot device EIDE/SCSI. If you have both types of hard drives,
which one is to be booted?
The boot sequence.
Modifying the boot sequence
You can change the boot sequence from A:, C: to C:, A:. That means, that
the PC will not try to boot from any diskette in the A drive. This will
protect you from certain virus attacks from the boot sector. Also, the
boot process will not be blocked by any diskette in the A drive. If you
need to boot from A-drive (for example, if you want to install Windows
98), you have to enter Setup again, and change the boot sequence to A:,
C:. That is no problem.
You also use the Setup program to regulate the power management ,
which is the power saving features in the motherboard. For example, you
can make the CPU shut down after one minute of no activity. There are plenty
of settings available in this area. The power management functions found
on the PC’s motherboard will cooperate with the operating system. Especially
Windows 98 is very good at using the power management.
You can protect the Setup program with a password. This is used widely
in schools, where the teachers do not want the little nerds to make changes
in the setup. Please remember the password (write it down in the motherboard
manual). If you forget it you have to remove the battery from the motherboard.
Then all user input to the CMOS is erased - including the password.
Here is a scanned image from a Setup program. It belongs
a very fine board from ASUS. Here you see the "BIOS Feature Setup,"
where you can select start-up choices:
Images from the Setup program
Here we are in the special "Chip set Feature Setup." These choices relate
to the chip sets and, most likely, need no changes:
2b. About the boot process and system bus
Read more about I/O buses in module 2c
Read more about the motherboard chip set in module
Read more about RAM in module 2e
Read about EIDE in module 5b
I also recommend two books for further studies. Gunnar Forst: "PC Principals",
from MIT is excellent. Also "The Winn L. Rosch Hardware Bible" from Brady
covers the same subjects. Also "PC Intern" from Abacus is fine.
Links to BIOS information:
Mr BIOS FAQ
Copyright (c) 1996-2005 by Michael B. Karbo. www.karbosguide.com.