Frequently Asked Questions Index:
1. Are driver problems preventing my scanner from working?
Reader: Since installing Windows Me, my HP scanning software gives me the following message:
"The setup program was unable to turn on your USB ports; assistance required to turn on your USB support in the BIOS."
I tried enabling the Legacy USB in the BIOS, but to no avail. My scanner worked perfectly with my previous operating system: Windows 98SE.
Computer Doctor: Sounds like you may need new drivers (or a BIOS update) for your motherboard (most have integrated USB ports). Contact your motherboard manufacturer for the latest drivers, and check for a BIOS update as well.
If you are using a USB card, then contact the manufacturer of that card for updated drivers. Other than that, you might try contacting Microsoft about this problem, since it seems to be directly related to Me. Personally, I don't recommend Me, and my recommendation is that you go back to 98, or jump up to Windows 2000.
2. How do I identify my motherboard manufacturer?
Computer Doctor: Intel often releases several versions of a given board, with and without certain options, which may change how the board looks to the uninitiated.
Intel has a page with information on how to identify their boards at:
http://support.intel.com/support/motherboards/identify.htm. You will see there how you can use the BIOS identification numbers or other numbers stamped on the board to identify which Intel board you have.
Intel also makes some motherboards for OEMs only. Did you check the OEM section of their motherboard site? If not, check:
If the motherboard has an AMI BIOS, read the BIOS ID string and cross reference it on the AMI site. AMI has a Motherboard ID Utility which is designed to assist in determining the manufacturer of a motherboard using AMIBIOS that you can download from:
If the motherboard has an Award BIOS (now made by Phoenix), go to the "Motherboard Manufacturers" page for a cross-reference of ID numbers and motherboard manufacturers:
If you still can't figure out who made your motherboard, then remember that the chipset really is the motherboard, so if you can figure out which chipset you have (the number is written on the chips, also some diagnostics can tell you), then that will tell you quite a bit about your board, such as:
How much memory you can use
What type of memory is supported
What processors are supported, etc.
All of these factors are determined primarily by the chipset.
Also check the board for any identifying marks, observe the screen when you turn the system on for any BIOS identifier strings or version codes. Try searching the other motherboard manufacturer sites if you can't come up with anything at Intel. Still though, for any systems using Intel processors, Gateway has been using Intel motherboards for some time now.
Also note that Gateway normally listed the exact motherboard in your system on the original build receipt, where all of the components in your original system configuration are listed. They usually list the motherboard by the Intel codename. Check the original paperwork that came with your system for that information.
3. What determines the number of PCI slots on a motherboard?
Computer Doctor: The number of PCI slots on a motherboard is determined by the chipset that the motherboard uses. For example, the Intel 440BX chipset http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/440bx supports a maxiumum of 5 PCI slots, while the 815E chipset http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/815e supports up to 6. If you download the datasheet for any chipset (from the chipset manufacturer), it should tell you the maximum number of PCI slots supported.
It is possible to produce different boards using the same chipset that have different numbers of PCI slots. For example, the Intel D815BN motherboard http://developer.intel.com/design/motherbd/bn/bn_ds.htm is a Micro-ATX form factor board that includes 3 PCI slots, while the D815EEA motherboard http://developer.intel.com/design/motherbd/ea/ea_ds.htm is a larger ATX form factor board that includes 5 PCI slots.
4. Why does my PC fail to boot after installing a new motherboard?
Reader: I have just installed a replacement motherboard on a Pentium II 333MHx system. but now I cannot turn on the computer. Is it a simple case of getting the wires from the power/reset switches not connected in the right order,or have I done something more serious?
Computer Doctor: If the board is a Baby-AT form factor, and you miswired the main power connectors to the motherboard, the board would be fried. Also if you replaced the wires on the power switch, you could have a problem there as well. Check the motherboard and switch connectors, make sure they are properly attached. The black (ground) wires on both the P8 and P9 power connectors to the motherboard need to be next to each other.
If it is an ATX board, you need to connect the front panel power switch to the board. If the power switch connection is correct, then check the power cable to the wall. A few ATX power supplies have both an external switch as well as the front panel switch; both must be turned on for the system to start. Try resetting the CMOS memory, it is possible that could be the problem too.
Finally, you could have a bad motherboard, or the first bank of memory could be bad. A bad first bank of RAM will cause the system to appear totally dead in most cases. Try replacing the memory, then replace the board. Finally, try replacing the power supply.
5. What is a shared PCI/ISA slot on a motherboard?
Computer Doctor: A shared slot means that the PCI and ISA slots are so close together physically that if you plug a card into one you can't plug a card into the other.
6. What does FSB (front side bus) mean, and is it important when planning a motherboard purchase?
Computer Doctor: FSB is just another name for the motherboard speed, or the speed of the socket or slot that the processor is plugged into. It is also called the system bus.
The term FSB started with the Pentium Pro, which was the first processor to move the L2 cache into the processors and run it on a separate bus from the main system bus. Intel called this DIB (Dual Independent Bus) architecture. Since the cache bus was sometimes called the back-side bus, people started calling the system bus the front-side bus. See page 86 (12th edition) for more information on DIB.
It's important to consider FSB speeds when planning a motherboard purchase because the speed of the FSB is the speed of the motherboard, and also the speed of the bus that the processor is plugged into. As with computer-related factors, the faster the FST the better.
For example, compare two Pentium III 800MHz systems. The PIII 800 can be set up to run at either an 8x multiplier on a 100MHz FSB, or at a 6x multiplier on a 133MHz FSB. Even though both result in a CPU speed of 800MHz, the first one has a memory transfer speed of (8-bytes * 100MHz) 800 MB/sec, while the second example would have a memory transfer speed of (8-bytes * 133MHz) 1,067 MB/sec, which is 33% faster. Thus while both would process information at the same speed, the latter system would be able to read and write data from memory 33% faster than the first.
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