Need boot ROM for Asus A7M266-D motherboard

Tom Bartol bartol at
Wed Dec 11 13:08:13 PST 2002

Dear Donald,

Thanks for your quick and useful reply to our query.  I've inserted
specific responses and follow-up questions in-line below:

On Tue, 10 Dec 2002, Donald Becker wrote:

> On Tue, 10 Dec 2002, Jack Wathey wrote:
> > A friend and I are hoping to build a diskless cluster of dual Athlons
> > using Asus A7M266-D motherboards.  This board is sometimes sold as
> > model A7M266-DL, which is just the A7M266-D bundled with a 3Com 100
> > Mbps NIC, model PCI-L3C920.  According to 3com, the chipset on this
> > little NIC is intended for use as an integrated LAN interface on
> > the motherboard.  Asus chose to put it on a tiny PCI card instead.
> Pay attention to the warning never to use this card on another
> motherboard...

Thanks for the heads-up -- I think I missed that warning in the manual.

> > We need to boot these machines over the net using PXE boot.
> > Unfortunately, the A7M266-DL bundle does not include a boot ROM,
> > although the NIC has a socket for one, and the manual says that one
> Get a 29 series Flash chip of the right pin count.
> A likely part is the Atmel AT29c010 128Kx8, which was the recommended
> part for earlier boards.

I am assuming that this part will come as a blank ROM and that we would
have to flash it with the appropriate boot code.  We're pretty computer
savvy but have never programmed or flashed our own chips.  Several
questions now arise:
  1) Is there a vendor that supplies these ROMs already flashed with PXE
     boot or other suitable boot code (e.g Etherboot).
  2) if not then I assume we'd have to obtain necessary hardware and
     software to flash our own chips.  Can you recommend to us the
     hardware and software for this process?  I've found some information
     on this at the Etherboot web site but your specific recommendations
     for the 3C920 and Atmel AT29c010 128Kx8 would be most welcome.
  3) Etherboot doesn't specifically mention support for the 3C920.  This
     would most likely mean making some (hopefully small) modifications to
     one of the 3C90x drivers in Etherboot.  But making these mods would
     require detailed manuals of the 3C920.  Do you think 3Com would supply
     us with the necessary info and technical support?

> > 3com and Asus, I have not yet found anyone who can tell me the part
> > number and how to get the boot ROM chip for this NIC.
> Very few people do know...
> > Any suggestions for alternative NICs that might work for us?  We
> > would also welcome suggestions for alternative dual Athlon boards
> > that support WOL and have on-board 100 Mbps LAN (other than Tyan and
> > Gigabyte, which we have already tried and found inadequate for our
> > purposes).
> I'm curious: those are the two main players, what was lacking?

  Both the Tyan and Gigabyte boards came very close to satisfying our
  needs but fell short in the following ways:

  1) The Tyan board (model S2466) will not do WOL, and does not
     properly ignore keyboard absence.  It does, however, boot reliably
     via PXE boot and will search repeatedly (even forever) for a boot
     server until one is found (useful for times when the boot server is
     slow to respond to the boot request).

  2) The Gigabyte board (model 7DPXDW-P) does do WOL and PXE boot and does
     properly ignore an absent keyboard.  However WOL works only in
     soft-poweroff mode and the board will not go into soft-poweroff mode
     after resumption of power after a power failure (e.g. disconnection
     of power-supply from line voltage via a power strip).  Also the PXE
     boot sequence gives up after 5 tries and requires hitting the reset
     switch to initiate another boot attempt (not useful for when the boot
     server is too slow to respond during the 5 tries).

Of course, if you know of any work-arounds for the above short-comings
please let us know.  In the meantime, however, we are now pursuing the
ASUS board mentioned above as solution.  WOL behavior and handling of
keyboard absence meet our requirements so the remaining issue with the
ASUS board is network booting (as mention above).

We greatly appreciate any advice you can give.


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