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Fix the South Bridge?

BIOS updates released for popular motherboards

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Nearly a week after enthusiasts in Germany uncovered a problem with VIA's South Bridge 686B, several motherboard manufacturers have addresssed the issue with new BIOS releases. The problem, for those of you that missed it, can lock up or "freeze" a system when transfering large files (over 100Mb) from one ATA100 drive to another on different IDE chains. It's quite a specific issue, and seems to be aggravated by Soundblaster Live! cards, leading the world's presses to correctly assume that it's a PCI latency issue with the South Bridge 686B chip. If your motherboard has any one of a number of VIA chips on it, you could fall foul to this under the right circumstances. Nice to know, isn't it? Luckily, several motherboard manufacturers have stepped in to alleviate the problem with a BIOS update that fiddles the PCI latency. First up are KT133A Roundup survivors IWill, who have patched up their KK266-R with an official BIOS release. You can download that file from here, or report to the IWill support pages for more information on it. Another company whose boards are affected, ABit, has released what is described as a "Beta BIOS", version ZT. It's dated yesterday and is believed to fix the 686B problem, but as usual you can find little mention of it on their official pages. If you're daring though you can download that from ABit's FTP, here. Use it at your own risk. Epox have now also released a BIOS, for the EP-8KTA2 and the EP-8KTA3. And if you're unlucky enough to have a board from a company that hasn't been so quick off the mark, VIA Hardware has a cautionary fix for you, which patches the problem by installing a newer driver. You can download that from the bottom of this page. If you don't think you're suffering from the problem, there's nothing to worry about. This writer has used several KT133A motherboards (amongst those affected) and never run into it. The circumstances under which it applies are fairly obscure, but it's definitely worth taking into account these optional BIOS updates if you do run two fast IDE drives on separate chains and regularly transfer between them. Related Feature - VIA KT266 comes under fire

Source - press releases

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