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MSI B350 PC MATE beta bios broke m-flash

 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-27-2019, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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MSI B350 PC MATE beta bios broke m-flash

Hello,

some time ago I have updated the BIOS of my motherboard to a beta version that was on the official bios download page (7A34vALM, not available there anymore), since previously each bios update added new features and improved memory compatibility, and there were no warnings on the page, I didn't expect any issues. Initially I noticed faster boot times so I was happy with it. Unfortunately as it turns out the PC tends to crash sometimes with this BIOS version (mostly on windows which I fortunately don't use much). I decided to roll back to a previous one. I did the usual procedure: downloaded the file from the website and put it on a pendrive, connected the pendrive and booted into the "M-Flash" mode, to my surprise the drive list there was empty, showing only one entry that looked something along the lines of 'FS0: <empty string>', when I tried to select it, some message about no file or something along these lines popped up with the option to boot back to BIOS. Sending it to a service center would be quite inconvenient so I would be really happy if I could fix it myself.

I have searched for other ways to flash the BIOS but the live update tool linked on support page for this motherboard just said I'm on the latest version so there's nothing to do. I found "AMI Tool" mentioned somewhere so I downloaded the latest version from AMI website and tried using it with the update files from MSI website, neither the Windows nor the UEFI versions seemed to work (In the UEFI version I used /P /B /K options and on windows I used the GUI with the equivalent options selected, both with two different versions of the update file from the MSI website), on windows it mentioned something about it not matching the current ROM and in EFI shell for the older version (7A34vAJ) it didn't seem to recognize it and for the newer (7A34ALP) it failed to verify some checksums (I've tried redownloading both files).

After more digging I have found this thread https://www.overclock.net/forum/11-a...correctly.html which shows a different way of flashing the bios with the AMI UEFI tool.
1. It seems to show different file formats (or just extensions?) than the official updates, possibly this tool doesn't read this format and that's the reason why it didn't work?
2. Can I flash the modified bios as per that guide and then go from that to official 7A34vAJ? (I would consider using the modified one if it works well too) or maybe just flash the official update file somehow with it?
3. This guide seems to tell you to wipe and reflash all the memory of the BIOS chip, does that include any stuff like serial number, mac address, etc or is this stored somewhere else?
4. Should I be asking about it in that thread instead? Is there any documentation of this stuff you know of that I have missed? Sorry if I'm asking in the wrong place

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any answers

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-27-2019, 10:31 AM
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that sucks

I can't even get m-flash to work on my MSI-MPG(97K). Get the disk all done up, but it never sees the bios.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-27-2019, 01:03 PM
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If you're certain that you are trying to flash the correct bios file and the files you are trying to flash aren't corrupted, you should be able to use these instructions: https://www.overclock.net/forum/11-a...s-3rd-gen.html
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-28-2019, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by The Stilt View Post
If you're certain that you are trying to flash the correct bios file and the files you are trying to flash aren't corrupted, you should be able to use these instructions: https://www.overclock.net/forum/11-a...s-3rd-gen.html
I mean, I downloaded the file from the official bios download page for this mobo on MSI's website so I'm pretty sure it's the correct one. It is exactly 16MiB too so that would match such bios image I suppose.
EDIT: I've also checked sha512 sums of the file downloaded 2 times and they match so it's probably not corrupted.

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Last edited by Mckol; 11-28-2019 at 12:19 PM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-28-2019, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Update: I have bricked the motherboard

So, I have tried using the version of the tool linked in the thread I linked in OP, it had no issues reading the bios file and reported no errors while flashing the bios.
After a reboot the motherboard no longer posts. I have first ran Afuefix64 name_bios.cap /P /B /K, then Afuefix64 name_bios.cap /N /CLRCFG, I didn't run the other tool since I figured that if I was not installing a modified bios or anything this should be good, I have tried unplugging the pc, taking out the cmos battery for a few minutes. The motherboard doesn't support flashback nor does it have dual bios.

I suppose at this point my only option is to contact MSI support and get it fixed by them. If anyone has other suggestions I'm willing to try them too first though.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-30-2019, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I have realized that the board is out of warranty, so RMA won't really work, but I have looked around and it seems that you can flash the bios chip externally with an SPI programmer using the JSPI header on the motherboard, I've found the exact bios chip model and the datasheet so I'm gonna research that and maybe give it a try. I've also found an ebay seller who provides bios chips for various motherboards including mine for $10, but that would be a considerably more messy solution.

If anyone has any experience with doing this I'd appreciate any advice. Well, regardless, hopefully I can do it and maybe learn something in the process

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-16-2020, 07:52 PM
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wrong thread sry.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-19-2020, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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A lot has happened since the last update, but this is still not the end of the story.

I ended up buying the aforementioned bios chip on ebay. I sent the seller the motherboard model, everything went smoothly. I knew someone who'd let me use their workshop to solder it, so I did and swapped the old chip out for the new one. I kept it just in case. It still didn't work.
At that point I assumed they flashed it wrong, so I still wanted to get an SPI programmer and flash it myself.
I had a Thinkpad x220 by that point though which was good enough for doing most tasks so I didn't have that much motivation to fix my PC, and was progressing quite slowly.

At some point due to certain circumstances, I have bought a new motherboard.
I was still going to try and fix this one though since I could use it for my next PC build, not that I had anything to lose anyway.

I've found the FlashProg project - an open source 3.3V 25x series SPI flash programmer, conveniently based on the ATmega8A microcontroller which I had laying around. Only issue was it's designed for 3.3V chips. And the original BIOS chip was an MX25U12873F, which according to it's datasheet was 1.8V (which is from what I've heard later the standard bios chip voltage for Ryzen motherboards). After talking to some people on Louis Rossmann's discord server, I have decided to order a 3.3V <-> 1.8V logic level converter and some other electronic parts, and tried building it.
I have successfully built it on a breadboard - after connecting it to my laptop via USB, the loader program could communicate with the programmer without issues.

But yet another problem emerged. The JSPI1 header on the motherboard has smaller pin spacing than standard breadboard cables. Unfortunately it's really hard to get your hands on ones with 2.0mm spacing, I didn't really fancy the idea of buying a SOIC-8 clip, and didn't have a proper soldering iron, so the project was put on hold for some time again.

At some point, one of my friends also tried downgrading the BIOS in the same motherboard with the same method as me (even though I did warn her), and ended up with it not working properly. So since I already had the programmer she found some cables that had the correct spacing and bought them.
After they arrived she came over and we tried using them with my motherboard first.
I found the pinout of the JSPI1 connector in the manual of FlashcatUSB programmer when doing research earlier on.
To my disappointment, it didn't work. As she was about to leave, I asked what exactly was happening with the motherboard, so since she brought her entire PC, she said she'd show me. When we powered it on it just worked. Turns out newer motherboards take forever to reset their CMOS, and it finally reset properly after she took the battery out a day before and only plugged it back in to show me the problem.

So at that point I didn't really expect to be able to fix the motherboard. I didn't really know if it was the programmer that didn't work or if ISP just wouldn't work with this motherboard. Project was put on hold again.

While watching a YouTube video showing the repair process of some laptop, the guy mentioned that the client had ordered a bios chip from ebay but received a 3.3V one instead of a 1.8V one so it didn't work. Then I realized something. I have never once checked what chip did I actually receive. So I checked it. Turns out the chip was W25Q128JV. I checked the datasheet, and as expected, the chip was the right capacity, but the wrong voltage. I started looking for the old bios chip hoping I didn't throw it away. Fortunately it was in the motherboard box.

I decided to get a soldering station, due to having a hard time deciding on what version of it and from what seller to choose it took me a while to order it.
Right now I'm waiting for it to get shipped from China.

This was a pretty long update, but it was a while since the last one. I'm definitely gonna update again once I get the soldering iron and try flashing the motherboard again.

If anyone in future finds this, here are some of the resources I found so far:
FlashcatUSB manual, the pinout of the JSPI1 connectors is on page 20: https://www.darkwire.app/Downloads/F...USB_Manual.pdf
The original FlashProg project:
- on Hackaday https://hackaday.io/project/6076-fla...ory-programmer
- on SourceForge https://sourceforge.net/projects/flashprog/
My version of FlashProg (mostly improved documentation, the major changes are listed in README): https://gitlab.com/Mckol/flashprog

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Last edited by Mckol; 07-19-2020 at 09:11 AM. Reason: Noticed some small mistakes
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