I still doubted it, but they do exist : ASUS German Tech Support was at CeBit 2001.
When I stopped by at the ASUS booth in hall 13, eventually I talked to Thomas Ebel, responsible for ASUS AMD Mainboard Tech Support in Germany. When he found out that I am the webmaster of this site, he invited me to have a little talk about the A7V. Here are my questions and his answers () :
Q: How can I reach tech support in Germany ?
A: If you insist on calling by phone, try a very sunny summer day. Chances are that most people are not in front of their computer. Otherwise, the best possibility is by fax or e-mail.
Q: Why is Tech Support virtually unreachable ?
The "Support Pyramid" broke away. Many people call ASUS directly instead of contacting their dealer first. Theoretically, you should contact your dealer, he then contacts ASUS in case he can't help you. Actually a lot of the questions asked by phone are such simple or stupid ones that they could and should have been answered by the dealer. This situation is helped by many people buying not from a shop but online, thus sacrificing support for lower prices. Additionally, many problems come from insufficient cooling and weak power supplies.
Q: What about the CRC problems with big files transferred between two harddisks on the ATA100 promise controller?
A: This should have been solved by the newest driver and bios revisions available.
Q: How come the new BIOS revisions are always available first at the German site?
A: The BIOSes are programmed in Taiwan. As soon as new BETAs are available, they are put on the ASUS Intranet. The German webmaster is very fast in updating "his" site (every evening), while the .com and .com.tw webmasters don't update very often.
Q: Why is there no (or very little) information available on what the BETA BIOSes fix ?
A: There are internal lists of things that got changed or fixed. These lists, however, are not to be published
as they contain too much in-detail data to be of much use to the "average" user.
Q: But how can one determine if a new BIOS release fixes problems one is having?
A: There is no good solution yet. Perhaps a "filtered" list of fixes and changes can be made available to the interested through
A7V Troubleshooting or similar websites. [This is something we'll work on]
Q: What about that corrupt 1006 "killer" version ?
A: This was a rare mistake while updating the German website from the intranet. Somehow a CRC error went by unnoticed. This was a single occurrence. Each "final" BIOS release is fully tested . The BETA BIOSes are only tested for basic functionality - that's why they are called "BETA". Everyone has to decide by himself whether to use these or not.
Q: Why was "idling" disabled from 1004 on ?
A: He was not sure why exactly it got disabled, but it was either by accident or because of rare stability issues (perhaps only with certain revisions of processors). The sound problems could have been another cause [although 1003 didn't have any]. ASUS, however, is thinking about including a switch in the BIOS to let the user decide to disable or enable it.
Q: Are you aware of the modified BIOSes ? Example : people at Brasiliantech disassemble the BIOSes and change register settings
A: No, I was not aware of this modification, just of the cbrom modifications (ATA100 BIOS).
Q: What type of BIOS is used, anyway? AWARD 6.0 as the BIOS itself claims or some Phoenix-Award mixture? This is because most Utilities like modbin don't work for the A7V.
It's an AWARD Medallion 6.0. We had the same problems with our tools not working right with this version. There are other tools ... although not publicly available.
Q: How are the temperature probe readings altered through the BIOS ?
A: The CPU temperature readings from the onboard sensor are altered to more correctly show the die temperature. If using an P2T-Cable sensor connected to the second sensor connector on the board (I think it's meant for power supply temperature) you get unaltered readings.
Q: Are there any tips on correct driver installation and where to put what kind of expansion card ?
A: Yes, there is a guide on how to install via based boards. It's in German, you can find it at the German ASUS Tech Support site in the FAQ section. An updated version is available on the CeBit CDROM - I'll try to translate parts of it or alter my guides to reflect the new information.
Q: Which 4-in-1 drivers should I use ?
A: The 4.29 ones seem to be the best. Note that VIA does not offer the different parts of the driver separately any more. This could mean that they deem the whole driver
package as stable enough to be called "FINAL".
I hope I remembered everything correctly. By the way, thanks to Thomas for the very informative talk !
The best thing about this meeting is that I now have the possibility to contact the appropriate support directly. No - I won't give out the e-mail address or the phone number, but I will collect and forward questions that arise in the forum.