BIOS Startup Screen
When the system BIOS starts up, you may see its familiar screen display, normally after the video adapter displays its information. On some machines from the major manufacturers, this information is hidden. Below are the contents of a typical BIOS start up screen:
- The BIOS Manufacturer and Version Number: This is generally very important information to retain, as BIOS dates and version information will assist you to insure that your computer complies with the minimum requirements establish my operating system manufacturers.
- The BIOS Date: The date of the BIOS can be important in helping you determine its capabilities or flaws as the case may be. The key dates some features were incorporated in BIOS’s and computers are fairly well known.
- Setup Program Key: The key or keys to press to enter the BIOS setup program. (This is may be [Del], [F1], [F2], or merely a combination of key presses.
- System Logo: The logo of the BIOS company, or in some cases the PC maker or motherboard manufacturer.
- The “Energy Star” Logo: This special compliance logo may be displayed if the BIOS supports the Energy Star Compliance standard, however don’t be alarmed if it’s missing, as almost every major manufacturer participates today and the logo is quickly becoming unnecessary.
- The BIOS Serial Number: This is normally located at the bottom of the screen. Since BIOS’s are customized to the particular motherboard, this serial number can be used in many cases to determine the specific motherboard and BIOS version you are using.
Key Dates of Some BIOS Features
Here are the most common BIOS features and the approximate dates they were introduced. Obviously these are the basics and really shouldn’t be reviewed as a definitive list. It is fairly safe to say that if the BIOS date is more than a year prior to the key date, the feature is most likely not supported. If it is more than a year after the date, there is a reasonable certainty that it is supported:
- Geometry Translation for IDE/ATA Hard Drives Over 504 MB: The key date for the introduction of this feature is approximately July 1994.
- Plug and Play Specification: Support for PnP was introduced approximately mid-1995 in an effort to support the protocols being introduced in the first version of Windows 95.
- Year 2000 Compliance: For AMI BIOS’s, the key date is July 15, 1995, as year 2000 issues were already being tested. For Award BIOS’s the exact compliance dates are more complex, therefore it might be wise to upgrade your BIOS to the latest available, but most certainly mid-1999 or later.
- Large IDE/ATA Hard Drives Over 2 GB: Support for very large hard drives appears to have begun with BIOS’s dated in January 1996.
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