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Thread: IMPORTANT BIOS Update Information For ASRock Intel 6 Series and X79 Chipset Mother Boards

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    parsec's Avatar
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    Default IMPORTANT BIOS Update Information For ASRock Intel 6 Series and X79 Chipset Mother Boards


    This information does not apply to all the BIOS/UEFI updates that may be available for these boards.

    Read this carefully BEFORE you CONSIDER updating your board's BIOS, you may be sorry if you don't!!

    This information applies ONLY to the following ASRock mother boards:

    Intel H67, P67, Q67, and Z68 chipsets used with Sandy Bridge processors. Some models of Intel H61 chipset boards are included.
    Intel X79 chipset boards used with Sandy Bridge E processors.

    All ASRock mother boards made for Intel processors will include the board's chipset in the name. Examples are, H61 Pro, P67 Extreme 4 Gen 3, Z68 Extreme 4, X79 Extreme 9.

    The BIOS/UEFI updates you must be careful with are any that include the following in the Description on the ASRock download page for your mother board, and the versions that follow them:

    Supports Intel's 3rd Generation CPU. To support Intel's 3rd Generation (Ivy Bridge) CPU. Supports Intel IVB-E CPU.

    The special BIOS versions for Ivy Bridge CPU compatibility are labeled as such in the description of the BIOS on a board's download page, and look like this:

    IMPORTANT BIOS Update Information For ASRock  Intel 6 Series and X79 Chipset Mother Boards-sb-ivb-bios-desc-png

    The Intel H61, H67, P67, Q67, and Z68 chipset mother boards were originally designed for use with Intel socket 1155 "Sandy Bridge", Intel 2nd Generation Core processors.

    The following generation Intel socket 1155 "Ivy Bridge", Intel 3rd Generation Core processors are also compatible with the H61, H67, P67, Q67, and Z68 chipset mother boards. Those boards require a BIOS and IME firmware/software update in order to function correctly with the newer Ivy Bridge Processors.

    The problem is this:
    If you use a Sandy Bridge (2nd Generation Intel Core Processor) CPU in your board, and do not plan on changing to an Ivy Bridge (3rd Generation Intel Core Processor) CPU, but update your BIOS/UEFI to the version that provides support for Ivy Bridge/Intel 3rd Generation CPUs, your PC will experience issues after the update.

    If you are NOT planning on changing your Sandy Bridge processor to an Ivy Bridge processor, DO NOT USE THIS BIOS UPDATE!

    The problems range from losing the ability to OC the CPU (X79 boards) to non-booting PCs, black screens on start up, and others. The issues seem to be unpredictable, and vary from board to board, and user to user.

    One reason myself and others believe it is necessary to warn owners of the affected mother boards about this, is because the BIOS/UEFI update instructions for these updates do not provide enough information about the consequences of updating a mother board to these special versions. That is, these BIOS versions should only be applied if you will be using an Ivy Bridge, Intel 3rd Generation Core processor, in your mother board.

    Note that these BIOS/UEFI updates also require an update to the Intel Management Engine (IME) software. That is stated in the description of these updates. What is not included in the description is the BIOS/UEFI update includes an update to the Intel Management Engine firmware.

    The following message will appear inconsistently when a user downloads one of these BIOS/UEFI updates. That is, this important message is not displayed for every download associated with these updates (I added the underline and bold text in the following):

    1. To support Intel's 3rd Generation (Ivy Bridge) CPU, corresponding BIOS, drivers, and AXTU updates are required.
    2. After updating BIOS, please press any key to restart your system. At this moment, please do not remove the USB flash until Intel ME F/W update is finished.
    3. After you finish updating the BIOS, please reboot your system.
    4. Please only flash newer versions of the BIOS in the future.

    The IME firmware update is part of the BIOS/UEFI update, and is transparent to the user, meaning it happens but you are unaware of it. The problem we've seen in this forum is the IME firmware update occurs (or is completed) after the PC reboots when the BIOS/UEFI update is completed. If the user removes the USB flash drive (used for the Instant Flash BIOS/UEFI update method) when the PC reboots but before the IME firmware update completes, the firmware update fails.

    That is another reason for this thread, to provide users with improved instructions for performing these updates. The requirement to not remove the USB flash drive during the reboot phase of the BIOS/UEFI update is not stated anywhere in the description of these updates, or in the general BIOS update instructions on the board's download page.

    The BIOS/UEFI updates for the 6 series chipset boards have existed for over a year now, and now with the (impending) release of Ivy Bridge E processors for X79 boards, similar updates are being posted on ASRock X79 board download pages. These new IVB-E updates also include the need for an IME software update, and an INF file update. The 6 series chipset boards do not include an INF file update, which seems odd IMO.

    Which brings me to another reason for this thread, as a forum for exchanging information and experiences about these Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge CPU BIOS/UEFI updates. The amount of information supplied by ASRock and other mother board manufactures about this is minimal at best. How often are BIOS/UEFI and software updates done by any of us, to support a new generation of CPUs on our mother boards? Rarely if ever.

    The intent of this thread is to warn and educate owners of the affected boards about these unusual BIOS/UEFI updates. Frankly, we are not 100% certain that an update to the Ivy Bridge CPU compatible BIOS/UEFI and software, if done correctly, is not always incompatible with Sandy Bridge CPUs. That is yet another part of the unknown information about these updates.

    Basically, we are left with these questions about the Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge CPU BIOS/UEFI updates:

    1. Do the Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge CPU BIOS/UEFI updates cause the mother board to no longer be compatible with Sandy Bridge processors?

    2. If the answer to question 1 is yes, then:
    • Should the special SB to IVB BIOS/UEFI update be ignored and not used by SB CPU users?
    • Can SB CPU users use the BIOS/UEFI updates released after the special IVB compatibility version, without any issues?
    • Does the SB to IVB BIOS/UEFI update mean no further updates will be available for SB CPU users?

    3. If the answer to question 1 is no, then:
    • Why do users of these boards have issues after applying the SB to IVB compatibility BIOS/UEFI update?
    • Are the issues simply caused by an incorrectly performed BIOS/UEFI update?
    • What is the correct, complete procedure for each BIOS/UEFI update type (Instant Flash, Windows, DOS) available, for the special SB to IVB compatibility update?

    IMO, answers to these few questions would provide owners of SB and SB-E mother boards with all they need to know about this subject. Is that an unreasonable request?

    Owners of these boards are encouraged to post their experiences using these BIOS/UEFI updates, whether or not they changed to Ivy Bridge CPUs. Questions and comments are very welcome, as there are details I have not covered in this initial post.

    EDIT: I must point out that ASRock has provided instructions for updating the BIOS of compatible boards to Ivy Bridge CPUs, in the 02/2012 entry of their FAQs:

    The instructions are better than the brief ones provided on the board's download page. But these instructions do not answer the questions about Sandy Bridge CPU compatibility with the Ivy Bridge compatible BIOS versions.
    Last edited by parsec; 09-17-2013 at 03:53 PM. Reason: Added IME FW update instructions

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