Cannot flash Pegatron A15 bios v207 with v303 due to alleged mismatch in size and/or ID

Hi and thanks for reading and responding.

I have Novatech nSpire A15YA laptop with American Megatrends Inc. bios version 207, date 05/02/2012. I’d like to upgrade this bios due to a system upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or Windows 10. I’ve tried to solve this issue via Novatech livechat (or rather email) support in May 2017 and I received this link to bios version 303 from Louis.

I’d downloaded the file, extracted to HDD and followed the instruction in pdf file. I’d used Rufus to create bootable usb drive and copied the contents of .rar file to it without the ISO folder. Rebooted the computer to DOS and checked the usb content by “DIR” command. It contained all the files.

Using “flash.bat” command I started the upgrade. It always seems to work fine for a few seconds, then after short wait gives and error message saying: “ID Mismatch!!! Return_code = 255 Restart the computer and load optimised defaults”.

As a next step I tried entering a command “aflash3.exe A15PG.303”. This led/leads to a question about the necessity of bios upgrade and whether I want to continue despite the danger. Upon pressing Y the process seems to start and again after few seconds an error message tells me: “Warning! The Update Image size doesn’t equal to the Current Bios size!!” (sic).

Louis thought that reformatting the usb drive would help so I did that (several times), but to no avail. Then I used a different usb drive, to no avail. Then I used a DVD drive with burned ISO file from that A15x_303.rar package - to no avail.

Louis didn’t have any further advice so we left it there. I tried to flash independently with a file from MediaFire here, but the outcome was still the same with identical error messages.

I’m guessing there must be something wrong with my current bios in the sense that it doesn’t let me flash it, however the computer has worked and continues to work fine so I’d like to keep using it with Windows upgrade. Do you have any advice for me? Thanks again for your response.

Hi

The BIOS file you have been sent is incorrect. The BIOS you have version 303 is for the A15A Model Chassis. You have an A15YA which is completely different. A15 series came in many models, A,HE,HC and YA, This is why you get the ID mismatch error and the reason it will not flash so please don’t try to force it as this will cause an issue.
I will check latest version for your chassis model and let you know once I have update from factory.

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Hi,

that’s excellent news and very helpful to know, many thanks! I had full trust in the initial advice since it came from a Novatech representative so my hope in finding a solution was low, but now it’s been restored. It’s probably better if it’s a human error than a bios error in this case.
I will look forward to hearing from you.

Just to let you know I have not forgotten about this, I am waiting still on feedback from Factory and have chased up today.

Hi, thanks but no worries. I was sure you haven’t. I’m just not sure that that bios update exists, because somehow it seems weird that it isn’t on the internet somewhere already. Hopefully we’ll soon find out.

Hi, Sorry for the delay still, Factory did try to send over update last night to V208 which is the latest for your chassis but it got tugged by email filter. I have asked for download link so as soon as I get it I will get files over to you.

Hi and thanks again. No problem, I’ll rather wait for a reliable piece of software for a few more days than brick the computer with a quick find from the internet. Seems I was right about v303 not being available then. Never mind. Will update to v208 and see what happens after Windows 10 upgrade. The last time I put it on an old computer such as this one was my friend’s MSI CR500 and everything worked fine almost immediately. Hopefully that will be the case here as well.

Hi, yes you were correct about 303 but as I said that is because that version is for a different chassis completely so is not valid for your product.

For A15YA with 2xx Series mainboard BIOS the latest version is 208… Which is now here.

http://www.e-weekly.co.uk/download/RnD/BIOS/PEGATRON/A15YA/A15YA7_208.zip

Best way to do this would be from a DOS USB Stick. If you extract the contents of the zip above in to the root of the stick you should end up with some folders and 4 numbered batch files. If you boot from the stick you should get a screen come up explaining the 4 steps. Basically you will need to work through them in order to complete the update.
1 - This will unlock ME for updating, system will restart so boot back to stick and start step 2
2 - Updates the ME if required. After update is done and system restart boot back to stick and start step 3
3 - Updates the system BIOS
4 - Adds Novatech Logo to POST Screen if not showing.

After completing all 4 steps the system should now have BIOS V208 which is the latest and last for your model chassis.
Hope that helps

Hi again. I can confirm that completing all 4 steps resulted in Bios update from v207 to v208 which seems to work fine and allows the computer to boot into Windows with no problem.

However, only the first three steps proceeded smoothly. The fourth resulted in error message saying: “ID Mismatch!!! Return_code=255 -Shutdown the computer and remove AC power for 10 seconds -Restart system and load optimal defaults in bios”.

After following this instruction I tried to repeat step 4, which ended with the same error message as before. Nevertheless, the Novatech Logo was now there (while during step 3 reboot the screen was just black) so if the sole purpose of step 4 was to add the logo, it has worked despite the error message saying it hasn’t.

The only thing the logo screen now lacks are the two bottom left messages “Press F2 to enter setup” and the other one I’ve forgotten (but the F2 button works as it’s supposed to and pressing it enters the Bios setup). That, however, doesn’t seem the kind of a problem requiring a solution so I’m reporting it solely for the purpose of passing on information.

I will come back with the results of OS upgrade in case someone finds it helpful in their situation and of course in case there is a problem I’d need discussing.

Until then, many thanks for your assistance. It’s greatly appreciated.

Sorry yes, I should have pointed that out, on Step 4 when flashing logo, system BIOS chip uses an ID as part of the flash routine. During that run we had a chip change so we have 2 different possible ID for customer chassis to flash logo file. So when we run update for logo rather than try work out which customer has we just run both ID, one will flash and one will fail for mismatch of ID depending on which BIOS Chip customer has. So don’t worry this error would be expected in this case and not an issue. Thanks for the feedback though. =D

There’s no problem at all.

Btw, since we’ve been discussing the computer upgrade I would also like to discuss its CPU upgrade, but the question is basically which CPUs would the current Bios support. Should I start a new thread elsewhere for this, say in the Hardware category? I’m afraid that only you will know the answer anyway. Many thanks.

A lot of this will depend on what CPU model your chassis currently has in it already. A15YA came with two different internal chassis design for cooling.
The standard A15YA Supported Dual Core 35watt TDP Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge Mobile CPU Parts. So this was basically things like the i3-2370M / i3-3110M / i5-3210M for example.
Then we had the A15YA QC which had modified internal design to increase cooling to support 45watt TDP Quad Core Part, Such as the i7-3610QM.

What model CPU does your chassis currently have in it?? Or if you look on unit and can see Novatech Serial Number which will look like this 7654321-001 then I can check and see exactly what you have already.

Many thanks for your response.
As for the Novatech Serial Number, a white sticker is still there but the number has already gone. However, according to CPU-Z I currently have B970 @2.30 Sandy Bridge 35watt TDP 988B rPGA Socket.

My initial idea was to search for other A15YA models to see what CPUs they supported (which you’ve just briefly described), but then I realised I would still gamble because their Bios might be different so mine wouldn’t have to support their CPUs. For instance, I’ve found this A15YA with 2020m @2.40 here, but that seems to be Ivy Bridge. So if I understand correctly, Sandy Bridge equivalent of this CPU would be B980 @2.40 (also 2M cache)?
But never mind - I’m only asking to get an idea since upgrading from B970 to B980 doesn’t seem to be worth doing. As such I’ve found a list of CPUs for Sandy Bridge HM76 here, however I realise that even if they might fit physically they still don’t have to be supported by my Bios. So that’s my question - is the list reliable and does it contain at least one CPU which would, according to your knowledge, run under my Bios? Or do you know of an option which isn’t listed?
Let’s say I’d prefer to stay in the Dual Core territory, because I’m sort of put off by the idea of having to replace the fan in order to avoid overheating from a 45 or more watt CPU.

Yes the 35watt mobile CPU listed under the H76M Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge list would be accurate. We used many of those CPU in conjunction with A15YA when we were selling this model unit.

Thank you. So does it mean that all the 35 watt HM76 Sandy Bridge CPUs would be supported by the Bios we’ve just updated?

Technically yes they should all be supported except for those models with E on the end of them which are embedded model CPU

That’s great news since this probability that the laptop can be upgraded further helped me with a decision whether it’s worth investing into SSD or not. Thanks again!

Hi @COOPS again. I was wondering if I can approach you with one more issue, which is possibly related to what we’ve been doing, i.e. upgrading the system Bios.

I have just installed a new SSD in this computer and put a clean install of Windows 7 Pro on it. It was an original copy with SHA1 intact and I’ve tried activating it using the product key supplied, but this wasn’t successful. Given the product key seems genuine the next thing I thought of was checking the presence of OEM key in Bios. I did so using the OemKey.exe software from Neo Smart Technologies and it said "Unable to open MSDM table! This PC does not contain an embedded product key."The ShowKeyPlus program from Superfly Inc gave me an identical respose, i.e.“Windows 7 OEM marker not present in firmware.” This indicates the Oem key isn’t present in Bios.

Additionaly I tried running the RW Everything 64 software and looked for a SLIC and/or MSDM tabs under the ACPI tables, yet there were neither.

So was there perhaps no SLIC in the Bios upgrade you’ve provided? From what I know it would be a basic component needed to activate fresh Windows 7 installation, but perhaps there’s another way I don’t know about which was used on this computer. Would you or someone else please help me out with this? Thank you in advance.

You are correct that your system does not have a SLIC table nor would it. The use of a SLIC Table under Windows 7 was a way for OEM selling preinstalled Windows machines to embed a product key for the customer and also automatically activate windows without the need for customer to activate Windows. During the OEM shipping life of Windows 7, OEM System builders could either sign up for OA2.x and deploy Windows to a system with a SLIC table which was then used to verify the system was a legitimate system produced by that specific OEM. If everything checked out the system would activate windows on its own. Or the OEM could elect to ship standard 5x5 product COAs. These system do not have a SLIC. Customer is required to enter the 5x5 code from the COA Sticker and then activate the normal way via the internet or over the phone.

For Windows 7 Novatech did not opt for OA2.x and instead shipped all system with standard 5x5 product key requiring activation. As such you would not have a SLIC table in our system nor would it need one either as we did not ship system with embedded keys.

Where did this copy of Windows 7 come from that you installed. Is this a Retail / OEM original pack that you have the COA Sticker for with the 5x5 product key you are trying to use??

No, I saved that copy from when it was still available on the Digital River website. There is no sticker so I exctracted the product key from the Windows 7 installation on the old Novatech hard drive assuming the new installation would activate. Internet activation returns an error, so I’ll see what happens during the phone activation. Hopefully it will work.

Many thanks for all that info, I’ve had no idea about the OEM system builders’ ability to opt out of SLIC table provision.