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One New Thing
Friday, June 18, 2004
One New Thing: BIOS, CMOS, and batteries.

Yes, today I learnt a new computing acronym! Let me see if I can correctly paraphrase what I’ve just been reading about the battery in the CMOS in the BIOS:

  • The BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is the thing in your PC that works out where all the hardware in your computer is, and in what order to boot from those devices and find your operating system. If your BIOS doesn’t know about newer hardware because it’s an older BIOS, you tell it about new devices by installing device drivers.

  • The CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) is the place where configuration information for the BIOS is permanently stored. CMOS is a physical kind of technology that needs very little power to run, so this important information is stored there with it’s own battery power supply so the information isn’t lost when you switch off the PC.

  • And sometimes the little battery supplying power goes flat. The PC will ask you to confirm the boot the BIOS settings every time you reboot until you replace the battery. (I imagine that would be quite annoying – or just plain confusing if you’ve never actually played with a BIOS. Looks like that’s something I should learn some day!)

  • And in keeping with the theme of seeing error messages, for a Friday distraction try checking out this page of Weird Error Messages.

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