November 1999 Vol.3 Issue 4 Add To My Personal Library Getting Up Close & Personal With A Computer's BIOS Turning on your computer makes it flicker, beep, and flash messages until it's ready to roll. Those of you who have wondered what your computer was actually doing during the startup process are in for a treat. We'll spend some time going through the boot process, which is the process your PC completes when starting up, and explaining a key component to your PC's startup known as the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). The BIOS performs several vital functions before passing control over to the user. In this article, we'll explain what the BIOS is and what it does. BIOS (pronounced bye-ohs) is a set of instructions stored on a read-only memory (ROM) chip, which makes it neither pure hardware nor software. It's more accurately called , or software inscribed in hardware. The ROM chip holds 256 kilobytes (KB) of instructions, though 512KB chips are becoming common these days. The chip is usually located on the circuit board (known as a motherboard) containing the central processing unit (CPU), or brains of the machine. The CPU reads instructions from the BIOS and executes them in a fixed order. ( NOTE: Because the BIOS is the source of these commands, the convention is to discuss the processes from the point of view of the BIOS. However, at the microprocessor level, it is really the CPU performing functions through the BIOS. The BIOS controls a PC's startup process and manages its basic components, such as the keyboard, monitor, and disk drives. Unlike random-access memory (RAM), the BIOS is stored in ROM and does not blank out when a PC is switched off. The BIOS is waiting to perform its tasks when you turn on a
Products & Services
Erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) chips are programmable, reusable computer chips that can be erased using ultraviolet light and reprogrammed with a PROM programmer or PROM burner.
Memory modules are computer chips used to add memory to a computer.
NVRAM memory chips (Non-volatile RAM) is used to store configuration information that can be changed through modem commands.
MASK ROM (MROM)
MASK ROM (MROM) chips contain software (a mask) that is burned onto the chip during the semiconductor manufacturing process.
Chipsets are single chips that provide many of the functions of a motherboard. Generally, they integrate the clock generator, bus controllers, system timer, interrupt controller, DMA controller, CMOS/RAM clock, and keyboard controller functions.
Topics of Interest
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