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Thread: T100 BIOS update bricks yet another machine, ASUS denies problem exists.

  1. #1
    Soundwave
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    T100 BIOS update bricks yet another machine, ASUS denies problem exists.

    Hey Guys,

    I'm new to the forum. I found it when doing a Google search on an ASUS BIOS update problem I had with my 32GB T100 and just registered to post my experience.

    This post will likely get lengthy but I hope it proves useful for others with similar experiences.

    I purchased a refurbished unit from TigerDirect last summer and when testing it out, I noticed that when plugged into DC power via the USB port, the unit made slightly annoying high pitched sounds like some battery chargers make. When unplugged it was completely silent. I suspected the charger kept charging even when the battery was fully charged with a white LED and 100% charged notification in Windows 8. When turned off but plugged in with a full charge the unit stayed suspiciously warm as if current was still going through the battery. I didn't think about this too much and occasionally used it in tablet mode as an e-book reader.
    Fast forward to last week: I ordered a microHDMI-HDMI 1.4 cable since the T100 specs showed HDMI 1.4 support. I was hoping that I could use it with my 4k monitor as the Bay Trail reviews seemed to suggest that it handled 4k video very well. The laptop had been sitting around unused still plugged into the charger for a few weeks but the battery light was amber and the laptop wouldn't turn on. Holding down the power button for 15 seconds and then again for about 5 seconds allowed it to reboot, but the charge was only at 94% and it wouldn't go above this anymore. So the battery was probably slightly damaged from all that extra charging.
    To my disappointment, the highest resolution I could get was 1920x1080 and it was a little overscanned in that mode too. So much for HDMI 1.4.
    I decided to see what updates were available on the ASUS support site with regard to the SoC and video drivers and to my delight found updated BIOS versions that claimed to improve charging behavior and to update the embedded controllers and firmware. Maybe with the new firmware, the charger would only activate when the ADC read below a certain voltage and maybe even keep track of the maximum voltage attainable so it wouldn't overcharge anymore.
    So I downloaded the Windows BIOS Flash Utility directly from the ASUS support site, and the BIOS 307 file.Unfortunately, there was an error that went something like "Cannot allocate buffer". I did a search on the computer for any ASUS update utilities and there was one recommending only a BIOS update. Tried that with the same error.
    I booted into the BIOS and found that there was a way to update the BIOS there. On other many other systems I have built, this was always the preferred method of updating, directly from the BIOS itself, since the OS could not get in the way of the update or crash during the process.
    The file selected from the internal flash partition was accepted and verified, and the update seemed to go smoothly, the GUI indicated that it was successful and would restart.
    The device would never power up again. RIP.

    In my 20 years of IT work that often involved BIOS updates, and 5 years of computer engineering work programming microcontrollers and FPGAs, this is my first totally bricked device caused by a software update. I guess there's a first time for everything huh?

    Since this refurbished unit only had a 90-day warranty, you can probably imagine what happened after ASUS support instructed me to send the unit to their repair center in CA with an RMA.

    Here's a copy of the bill for $276. Counting the shipping cost to them, the total would be $285.11. The device originally cost me $190.92 shipped to my door.
    https://asusbiosfailures.files.wordp...15-invoice.png

    I disputed the invoice and ASUS denied that there was an issue with their software. Even after showing them the numerous posts on these forums about the exact same issue. I just got an e-mail that they decided to ship it back to me unrepaired instead.

    Here's the dispute history for your enjoyment:
    https://asusbiosfailures.files.wordp...15-dispute.png

    I still need to decide what to do with the unrepaired unit, whether to order the 64GB motherboard for around $85 on ebay, part it out, or throw it in the junk pile to mess with later.

  2. #2
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    Sorry for your issue but welcome. Your story has been told here before.

    It's just too bad you didn't find this forum before attempting to update the BIOS from within the existing BIOS which uses the Easyflash utility. It's well documented here that using Easyflash will brick your T100. Your T100 should have come with a utility called Winflash that is the proper way to update BIOS. Winflash is also available on the T100 Asus support download page. There's also work arounds in these forums for the "cannot allocate buffer" issue.
    Rick, loving my T100TA-C1-GR Z3740 64GB Win 10
    BIOS 314. All Windows updates except Bing. All Asus Live Updates. WIFI driver 5.93.99.210
    I get 8-12 hrs use per charge using SLEEP mode. Warning, NEVER calibrate the touchscreen.
    When posting for help, please include Your Model Particulars
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    That stinks.

    I will say in my 25 years of computer experience, I've bricked or seen bricked a number of computers from BIOS updates (one of the reasons I love dual BIOS motherboards. I HAVE managed to brick a BIOS on a dual BIOS motherboard before through bad settings. Got in to a boot loop and could not get in to the BIOS, though that was a BIOS settings issue, not an update issue and clearing the VRAM through pulling the board battery actually did not fix it for some reason, but I did brick a Pentium once with a BIOS update). Rare though it is. Over the years I've probably done 200+ BIOS updates and only bricked one motherboard once years ago. I've seen others do it (as in being physically present when it happened) and I've trashed a couple of BIOS through bad settings where I had to pull the board battery.

    One thing I have learned, is that generally is something doesn't want to work, trying to make it work often leads to heartache when it comes to computers and things like updates.

    I'd personally just try to get a new motherboard and swap it in. The swap should be pretty fast and painless and the price is pretty decent.

    As for the 4k display, minimal googling would show you that the maximum that the Bay Trail SoCs can put out is only 1440p. Some moderate google fu shows that the T100 has only an HDMI1.3 connector, so 1080p only.

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  5. #5
    Soundwave
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    Thanks for the welcome to the board.

    Of course with hindsight I wish I had seen the posts about others bricking their systems using Easy Flash. I just never had unrecoverable problems with BIOS updates before where I felt that extra research and caution were called for on this specific model. I had encountered this forum before but you really have to dig deep to find the problem, unless there's a FAQ hiding in plain sight that I'm not seeing.

    Maybe for this particular model the "proper" or "correct" way to update the BIOS is to only use the Winflash utility, and if the buffer error is encountered to install from the EFI partition and force it that way, but none of that information is on the ASUS website. If for every driver, BIOS, or OS update you had to research all the 3rd party sites to make sure it was completely safe because the manufacturer failed to warn, it would be hard to keep anything updated and you'd be reading forum posts all day long instead of enjoying your products. The story would be different if this was in a corporate setting or for a critical system.

    In my experience with other devices, flashing from within the UEFI/BIOS has always been the most reliable method as it doesn't require downloading a utility or depend on your software configuration.

    For the 4K/HDMI issue:
    When I ordered the model last summer I remember the HDMI revision was unspecified in the spec section on TigerDirect. When I searched further, a few of the spec listings on vendor sites indicated HDMI 1.4 and 4K compatibility. I was also unable to find a datasheet on the Z3740 or Bay Trail platform at the time or get a schematic of the T100 board. It's true that further due diligence may have come up with more information but the reason for my purchase was beside that particular feature, and not particularly important to me, but would have been very nice to have. I thought the idea of a hybrid laptop/tablet seemed really cool. For my next purchase of this type of device I will make sure to verify the HDMI 1.4 and 4K functionality.

    If I get the spare time and inclination I may try examining/testing/dissecting/hacking the unrepaired board for my own pleasure but I think I'll save my money for the next generation 14nm Cherry Trail models that should be coming out later this year.

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    @nbaird... no disagreement with each point you make.
    Rick, loving my T100TA-C1-GR Z3740 64GB Win 10
    BIOS 314. All Windows updates except Bing. All Asus Live Updates. WIFI driver 5.93.99.210
    I get 8-12 hrs use per charge using SLEEP mode. Warning, NEVER calibrate the touchscreen.
    When posting for help, please include Your Model Particulars
    Casters T100 Master Help Guide

  7. #7
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    I got the same deal from TigerDirect. My issue was the opposite, taking way too much time to charge. I used Asus Update to install all of the updates. It took about 3-4 times for the BIOS to take as it would always report as failed before finally a success. The same is happening for the Broadcom update but Device Manager says it is installed. So the Update software must be somewhat buggy. It's been a good sub-$200 tablet for me so far. Not a heavy user, just using it as a "cable box". Sorry, I can't test out the 4K for you as I don't have anything like that yet.

  8. #8
    Soundwave
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiat_lux View Post
    I got the same deal from TigerDirect. My issue was the opposite, taking way too much time to charge. I used Asus Update to install all of the updates. It took about 3-4 times for the BIOS to take as it would always report as failed before finally a success. The same is happening for the Broadcom update but Device Manager says it is installed. So the Update software must be somewhat buggy. It's been a good sub-$200 tablet for me so far. Not a heavy user, just using it as a "cable box". Sorry, I can't test out the 4K for you as I don't have anything like that yet.
    Did the BIOS update take care of the charging issue?

    ASUS sent the hardware back unrepaired and I disassembled it and began mapping the devices on the motherboard.

    A Winbond flash memory is used to store the BIOS/UEFI:
    https://asusbiosfailures.files.wordp...-25q64fwig.png

    The WSON-8 package can be accessed by soldering some tiny wires on the leads and programmed via SPI according to the datasheet.

    I don't think that manually reflashing will fix the problem however because ASUS release notes for the 313 update claimed to "Update EC F/W".

    When I was tracing back the power switch it ended up at an ITE IT8568VG device:
    https://asusbiosfailures.files.wordp...e-it8568vg.png

    I couldn't find a datasheet at the manufacturer's website but I suspect it is an ACPI microcontroller. Without documentation I'm not really sure how to proceed. Even with a datasheet and firmware some microsoldering or a surface mount desolder would be required to reprogram it. If any reverse engineers out there have any ideas let me know.

    Another device of interest was the TI bq24195l:
    https://asusbiosfailures.files.wordp...ti-bq24195.png

    A quick read through the datasheet reveals that the charging currents and voltages can be adjusted via I2C programming or by changing a resistor value. Soldering access wires shouldn't be too difficult under a microscope.

    Since I didn't see any place specifically about the Easy Flash problem with the Transformer Book, I put up a blog at https://asusbiosfailures.wordpress.com/. I copied some screenshots of threads from this forum to show ASUS that there was a problem.

    They didn't seem to care and all I could get were canned responses that the issue was being "well taken care of".

    A month later and still no warnings...they still link to a tutorial on Easy Flash from their T100TA support page:
    http://www.asus.com/supportonly/T100...esk_Knowledge/

    If another ASUS Easy Flash victim reads this and has something to add let me know.

  9. #9
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    Here's a poll I set up in April, 2014... Bios update poll: Success / failure

    At that time, Winflash was the most reliable tool for updating BIOS on the T100 and I believe still is.

    Is Asus responsible for people bricking their T100 using Easyflash to update their BIOS? Yes, I'd say so since their website procedure under FAQ has always and continues to show using Easyflash to update the BIOS.

    You can see the instruction FAQ here... ASUSTeK Computer Inc. -Support-
    and I'd suggest writing at the bottom "What can we do to improve this document?" to tell them about Easyflash being an improper tool for the T100.
    Rick, loving my T100TA-C1-GR Z3740 64GB Win 10
    BIOS 314. All Windows updates except Bing. All Asus Live Updates. WIFI driver 5.93.99.210
    I get 8-12 hrs use per charge using SLEEP mode. Warning, NEVER calibrate the touchscreen.
    When posting for help, please include Your Model Particulars
    Casters T100 Master Help Guide

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    @Asus_USA are you seeing this? It would save you a lot of money and time in warranty RMAs if you didn't provide false information that was this risky in your support website.
    *I apologize for any spelng mistakes. I frequently answer questions on my phone. The content is (usually) good, but the words may not be intelligible. If you cant understand my post... check back later or call me out on it.
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