AwardBIOS Error Messages

AwardBIOS Error Messages

When a personal computer is first turned on, the BIOS tests and configures various components to ensure that they are operating correctly.  This operation is called POST (power-on self test).  If the BIOS detects any problems during this testing phase, it will attempt to continue to start the computer.  However, if the problems are severe, the BIOS may be forced to halt the system.  

When an error is detected, the BIOS program will:

  • Display the error to the screen, if possible. 
  • Generate a POST beep code using the computer’s internal speaker if it cannot access the display adaptor.
  • Provide a POST code output that can be read using a special hardware tool. 

Beep Codes

  • The only AwardBIOS beep code indicates that a video error has occurred and the BIOS cannot initialize the video screen to display any additional information. This beep code consists of a single long beep followed by two short beeps. Any other beeps are probably a RAM (Random Access Memory) problem.

Screen Error Messages

The following messages are examples of messages including errors detected by the BIOS during POST and a description of what they mean and/or what you may do to correct the error.

BIOS ROM checksum error – System halted

The checksum of the BIOS code in the BIOS chip is incorrect, indicating the BIOS code may have become corrupt. Contact your system dealer to replace the BIOS.

CMOS battery failed

The CMOS battery is no longer functional. Contact your system dealer for a replacement battery.

CMOS checksum error – Defaults loaded

Checksum of CMOS is incorrect, so the system loads the default equipment configuration. A checksum error may indicate that CMOS has become corrupt. This error may have been caused by a weak battery. Check the battery and replace if necessary.

CPU at nnnn

Displays the running speed of the CPU.

Display switch is set incorrectly

The display switch on the motherboard can be set to either monochrome or color. This message indicates the switch is set to a different setting than indicated in Setup. Determine which setting is correct, and then either turn off the system and change the jumper, or enter Setup and change the VIDEO selection.

Press ESC to skip memory test

The user may press Esc to skip the full memory test.

Floppy disk(s) fail

Cannot find or initialize the floppy drive controller or the drive. Make sure the controller is installed correctly. If no floppy drives are installed, be sure the Diskette Drive selection in Setup is set to NONE or AUTO.
HARD DISK initializing
Please wait a moment
Some hard drives require extra time to initialize.


Cannot find or initialize the hard drive controller or the drive. Make sure the controller is installed correctly. If no hard drives are installed, be sure the Hard Drive selection in Setup is set to NONE.

Hard disk(s) diagnosis fail

The system may run specific disk diagnostic routines. This message appears if one or more hard disks return an error when the diagnostics run.

Keyboard error or no keyboard present

Cannot initialize the keyboard. Make sure the keyboard is attached correctly and no keys are pressed during POST. To purposely configure the system without a keyboard, set the error halt condition in Setup to HALT ON ALL, BUT KEYBOARD. The BIOS then ignores the missing keyboard during POST.

Keyboard is locked out – Unlock the key

This message usually indicates that one or more keys have been pressed during the keyboard tests. Be sure no objects are resting on the keyboard.

Memory Test:

This message displays during a full memory test, counting down the memory areas being tested.

Memory test fail

If POST detects an error during memory testing, additional information appears giving specifics about the type and location of the memory error.
Override enabled – Defaults loaded

If the system cannot boot using the current CMOS configuration, the BIOS can override the current configuration with a set of BIOS defaults designed for the most stable, minimal-performance system operations.

Press TAB to show POST screen

System OEMs may replace the Phoenix Technologies’ AwardBIOS POST display with their own proprietary display. Including this message in the OEM display permits the operator to switch between the OEM display and the default POST display.

Primary master hard disk fail

POST detects an error in the primary master IDE hard drive.

Primary slave hard disk fail

POST detects an error in the secondary master IDE hard drive.

Resuming from disk, Press TAB to show POST screen

Phoenix Technologies offers a save-to-disk feature for notebook computers. This message may appear when the operator re-starts the system after a save-to-disk shut-down. See the Press Tab & message above for a description of this feature.

Secondary master hard disk fail POST detects an error in the primary slave IDE hard drive.

Secondary slave hard disk fail

POST detects an error in the secondary slave IDE hard drive.

Post Codes

POST Codes are hexadecimal codes generated by the BIOS during the POST operation.  These codes may be monitored on a special hardware “Post card” which displays them using a two digit alphanumeric display.  

  • ISA Post codes are output to port address 80h.

  • EISA Post codes are typically output to port address 300h.


Code (hex) Name Description
co Turn off Chipset Cache OEM Specific-Cache control
1 Processor Test 1 Processor status (1FLAGS) Verification.Tests the following processor status flags: carry, zero, sign, overflow.
The BIOS sets each flag, verifies they are set, then turns each flag off and verifies it is off.
2 Processor Test 2 Read/Write/Verify all CPU registers except SS, SP, and BP with data pattern FF and 00.
3 Initialize Chips Disable NMI, PIE, AIE, UEI, SQWV.
Disable video, parity checking, DMA.
Reset math coprocessor.
Clear all page registers, CMOS shutdown byte.
Initialize timer 0,1, and 2, including set EISA timer to a known state.
Initialize DMA controllers 0 and 1.
Initialize interrupt controllers 0 and 1.
Initialize EISA extended registers.
4 Test Memory Refresh Toggle RAM must be periodically refreshed to keep the memory from decaying. This refresh function is working properly.
5 Blank video, Initialize keyboard Keyboard controller initialization.
6 Reserved  
7 Test CMOS Interface and Battery Status Verifies CMOS is working correctly, detects bad battery.
BE Chipset Default Initialization Program Chipset registers with power on BIOS defaults
CI Memory presence test OEM Specific-Test to size on-board memory.
C5 Early Shadow OEM Specific-Early Shadow enable for fast boot.
C6 Cache presence test External cache size detection.
8 Setup low memory Early chip set initialization.
Memory presence test.
OEM chip set routines.
Clear low 64K of memory.
Test first 64K memory.
9 Early Cache Initialization Cyrix CPU initialization.
Cache initialization.
A Setup Interrupt Vector Table Initialize first 120 interrupt vectors with SPURIOUS_INT_HDLR and initialize INT 00h-1Fh according to INT_TBL.
B Test CMOS RAM Checksum Test CMOS RAM checksum, if bad, or insert key pressed, load defaults.
C Initialize Video Interface Detect type of keyboard controller (optional).
Set NUM_LOCK status.
D Initialize Video Interface Detect CPU clock.
Read CMOS location 14h to find out type of video in use.
Detect and Initialize Video Adapter.
E Test Video Memory Test video memory, write sign-on message to screen.
Setup shadow RAM – Enable shadow according to Setup.
F Test DMA BIOS checksum test.
Controller 0 Keyboard detect and initialization.
10 Test DMA Controller 1 Test DMA Controller 1.
11 Test DMA Page Registers Test DMA Page Registers.
12-13 Reserved  
14 Test Timer Counter 2 Test 8254 Timer 0 Counter 2.
15 Test 8259-1 Mask Bits Verify 8259 Channel 1 masked interrupts by alternately turning off and on the interrupt lines.
16 Test 8259-2 Mask Bits Verify 8259 Channel 2 masked interrupts by alternately turning off and on the interrupt lines
17 Test Stuck 8259Â’s Interrupt Bits Turn off interrupts then verify no interrupt mask register is on.
18 Test 8259 Interrupt Functionality Force an interrupt and verify the interrupt occurred.
19 Test Stuck NMI Verify NMI can be cleared.
1A   Display CPU clock.
1B-1E Reserved  
1F Set EISA Mode If EISA non-volatile memory checksum is good, execute EISA initialization.
If not, execute ISA tests an clear
EISA mode flag.
Test EISA Configuration Memory
Integrity (checksum & communication interface).
20 Enable Slot 0 Initialize slot 0 (System Board).
21-2F Enable Slots 1-15 Initialize slots 1 through 15.
30 Size Base and Extended Memory Size base memory from 256K to 640K and extended memory above 1MB.

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We would like to acknowledge the help and assistance that we received from the Phoenix technical staff in preparing this information.

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