Backing up my AST Advantage! 611s BIOS with a T48 Universal programmer

The AST Advantage 611s, the first computer my family got. With a whopping 8MB of RAM and an IBM 5x86 CPU clocked at 100MHz.

We recently managed to get it working again, and came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to make a backup of the BIOS on the motherboard, since there may not exist too many backups out there.

I ordered a XGecu T48 Universal Programmer with the appropriate adapters for the flash chip for 59$ If you want to check it out you can find it here:

The T48 is also called TL866-3G and is of course the successor to the popular TL866 universal programmer.

Removing the chip and identifying the model number

Taking a look in the computer, the BIOS flash is located in the PLCC44 socket, but it's a bit hard to reach so the ISA riser card needs to be removed.

Flash Chip location

A closer look at the chip shows a sticker and a serial number that points back to 94.

Flash Chip sticker

Removing the chip was easy because of the included chip removal tool. Just place the hooks in the slots in the corners and press until it pops out.

Flash Chip removal

Now I needed to find out what type of flash chip it really was. But I'd rather not ruin the sticker. So I used a scalpel blade to carefully remove the sticker so I could read the model number. (Pardon for the out of focus photo)

The flash chip model number

A quick google search told me that it was an Intel N28F001BX-T150 1Mbit (128KB) Boot block flash memory.

Reading the flash using Xgpro

IC flashing

The program used for the T48 is the Xgpro. The first thing I did was to make sure the right IC was selected by clicking “Select IC” in the upper left corner.

IC selection

After marking the correct IC and clicking “Select” I clicked on “READ” in the upper toolbar. Now a new window appeared with a picture on how to seat the chip in the adapter and the ZIF socket. After connecting it according to the picture I clicked “Read” and the “BACK”

Read data

Now I could see the data from the chip. Scrolling down a bit, I could find some readable text like a Copyright from 1984 and an AST Research Copyright from 1995. Cool!

Flash dump

After confirming that I got some data from the chip I saved it to a .bin file using the “SAVE” button on the top left.

Save dialog

My plan is to upload the bin file to a site like The Retro Web, this page in particular:!-610-611-486-202728-101 So people can find a copy of the BIOS and easily flash a new one if they ever need to do that.