American Megatrends

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American Megatrends, Inc.
TypePrivate
IndustryComputer hardware
Diagnostic software
Remote access
Motherboards
Firmware
Storage systems
Founded

S. Shankar[1][2]

Pat Sarma (1985)
Headquartersnear Norcross, Georgia, United States
Key peopleS. Shankar (President)
ProductsAMIBIOS
Aptio
AMIDIAG
StorTrends
MegaRAC
ManageTrends
Employees2000+ worldwide
Websitewww.ami.com
 
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American Megatrends, Inc.
TypePrivate
IndustryComputer hardware
Diagnostic software
Remote access
Motherboards
Firmware
Storage systems
Founded

S. Shankar[1][2]

Pat Sarma (1985)
Headquartersnear Norcross, Georgia, United States
Key peopleS. Shankar (President)
ProductsAMIBIOS
Aptio
AMIDIAG
StorTrends
MegaRAC
ManageTrends
Employees2000+ worldwide
Websitewww.ami.com

American Megatrends Incorporated (AMI) is an American hardware and software company that specializes in PC hardware and firmware. The company was founded in 1985 by Pat Sarma and S. Shankar, who was chairman and president as of 2011.[1] It is headquartered in Building 200 at 5555 Oakbrook Parkway in Gwinnett County, Georgia, United States, near the city of Norcross.[3][4]

The company started as a manufacturer of complete motherboards, positioning itself in the high-end segment. Its first customer was PCs Ltd, later known as Dell Computers.[5]

As hardware business moved progressively to Taiwan-based original design manufacturers,[6] AMI continued to be a BIOS firmware developer for major motherboard manufacturers. The company produced BIOS software for motherboards, server motherboards (1992), storage controllers (1995) and remote management cards (1998).

In 1996 AMI produced MegaRAID, a storage controller card which was adopted by major OEMs including HP and Dell. The RAID division assets were sold to LSI Logic in 2001.[7]

As of 2011 AMI continued to focus on OEM business and technology. Its product line includes AMIBIOS (a BIOS), Aptio (a successor to AMIBIOS8 based on the UEFI standard), diagnostic software, remote access firmware, motherboards, SGPIO backplane controllers, driver/firmware development, service processors, and NAS and IP-SAN storage systems for SMBs.

Products[edit]

AMIBIOS[edit]

Table of diagnostic beep codes compiled by AMI BIOS during power-on self test[8][9]
Number of beepsMeaning
1power-on self test successful
2Parity error in the first 64KiB of RAM
3Memory failure in the first 64KiB of RAM
4Same as 3, but also including a non-functional timer 1
5CPU error
6Error in the A20 line on the 8042 keyboard controller chip
7Generation of a CPU virtual mode exception signifying an error
8Read/write error when accessing system video RAM
9Mismatch between the calculated checksum of the ROM firmware and the expected value hardcoded into the firmware.
10Read/write error for the CMOS NVRAM shutdown register
11A fault in the L2 cache

AMIBIOS (also AMI BIOS) is the BIOS developed and sold by American Megatrends. It is used on motherboards made by AMI and by other companies.

AMIBIOS from an ECS motherboard

American Megatrends has a strict OEM business model for AMIBIOS: it sells source code to motherboard manufacturers or customizes AMIBIOS for each OEM individually, whichever business model they require. AMI does not sell to end users, and itself produces no end-user documentation or technical support for its BIOS firmware, leaving that to licensees. However, the company published two books on its BIOS in 1993 and 1994, (listed in further reading), written by its engineers.[10]

During powerup, the BIOS firmware displays an ID string in the lower-left-hand corner of the screen. This ID string comprises various pieces of information about the firmware, including when it was compiled, what configuration options were selected, the OEM license code, and the targeted chipset and motherboard. There are 3 ID string formats, the first for older AMIBIOS, and the second and third for the newer AMI Hi-Flex ("high flexibility") BIOS. These latter are displayed when the Insert key is pressed during power-on self-test.[10]

The original AMI BIOS did not encrypt the machine startup password, which it stored in non-volatile RAM. Therefore, any utility capable of reading a PC's NVRAM was able to read and to alter the password. The AMI WinBIOS encrypts the stored password, using a simple substitution cipher.[11]

By pressing the Delete key during power-on self-test when a prompt is displayed, the BIOS setup utility program is invoked. Some earlier AMIBIOS versions also included a cut-down version of the AMIDIAG utility that AMI also sold separately, but most later AMI BIOSes do not include this program as the BIOS DMI already incorporates detailed diagnostics.[10]

AMIBIOS is only sold through distributors, not directly to end users. Firmware upgrades and replacements are only available from AMI for its own motherboards. Upgrades and replacements for AMIBIOS customized for a motherboard are only available from the manufacturer or from eSupport.

AMI supplies both DOS and Win32 firmware upgrade utilities for its own motherboards. eSupport only supplies a Win32 upgrade utility.[10][12][13]

AMIDiag[edit]

AMIDiag is a family of PC diagnostic utilities sold to OEMs only. The AMIDiag Suite was introduced in 1988 and made available for MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) platforms. It includes both the Windows and DOS PC diagnostics programs. Later versions of AMIDiag support UEFI, which allows diagnostics to be performed directly on the hardware components, without having to use operating system drivers or facilities.

Service processor and IPMI[edit]

The MegaRAC remote management controller was introduced in 1998 for Dell, that later developed the DRAC. The second generation card, MegaRACG2, provided console and KVM redirection, firewall and battery backup, but was rather expensive. Successive MegaRAC generations, the G3 and G4, provide incremental performance at lower prices.

In the early twentyfirst century the server industry was largely migrating to IPMI technology. AMI launched the MegaRAC PM Firmware Solution in 2002, with code completely independent of AMIBIOS.

With the development of powerful chip-based integrated baseboard management controllers, the focus of AMI shifted to providing firmware-based service processor solutions. Called MegaRAC SP, the firmware implements complete KVM redirection, console redirection and remote media for System-on-Chip. An SoC subsystem complete with MegaRAC SP has a definite cost advantage over card-based alternatives.

StorTrends/ManageTrends[edit]

The StorTrends family of network-based backup and storage management software and hardware includes several NAS and iSCSI-based SAN servers with 4, 12, or 16 drive bays.

AMI couples off-the-shelf hardware with the StorTrends iTX storage management firmware platform. StorTrends offers synchronous, asynchronous and snap-assisted replication, thin-provisioning, high-availability grouping and advanced caching.

Reliability and performance is the key for any storage server. StorTrends iTX 2.8 is designed to support Storage Bridge Bay specification that provide Auto-Failover capability to ensure that any interruption is handled without affecting data. It supports High-availability cluster, redundancy, scalability, replication, disaster recovery and multiple site backups.

Technical problems[edit]

On November 13, 1993, a number of PCs that used the AMIBIOS firmware started at boot-up to play the tune to Happy Birthday repeatedly while halting the computer until a key was pressed.[14] The problem was resolved with a Trojan-free firmware upgrade from most manufacturers.

The AMI WinBIOS was a 1994 update to AMIBIOS, with a graphical user interface setup screen that mimicked the appearance of Windows 3.1 and supported mouse navigation, unusual at the time. WinBIOS was viewed favourably by Anand Lal Shimpi at AnandTech,[15] but described by Thomas Pabst at Tom's Hardware as a "big disappointment", in part because of problems with distributing IRQ signals to every PCI and ISA expansion slot.[16]

In July 2008 Linux developers discovered issues with ACPI tables on certain AMIBIOS BIOSes supplied by Foxconn, ASUS, and MSI. The problem is related to the ACPI _OSI method, which is used by ACPI to determine the OS version (in case an ACPI patch only applies to one specific OS). In some cases, the OSI method caused problems on Linux systems, skipping code that was only executed on Windows systems. Foxconn and AMI worked together to develop a solution, which was included in later revisions of AMIBIOS. The issue affected motherboards with Intel Socket 775. Actual system behavior differed based on BIOS version, system hardware and Linux distribution.[17]

Founding[edit]

American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) was founded in 1985 by Subramonian Shankar and Pat Sarma with funds from a previous consulting venture, Access Methods Inc. (also AMI). Access Methods was a company run by Pat Sarma and his partner[who?]. After Access Methods successfully launched the AMIBIOS, there were legal issues among the owners of the company, resulting in Sarma buying out his partners. Access Methods still owned the rights to the AMIBIOS. Sarma had already started a company called Quintessential Consultants Inc. (QCI), and later set up an equal partnership with Shankar.

By this time the AMIBIOS had become established and there was a need to keep the initials AMI. The partners renamed QCI as American Megatrends Inc., with the same initials as Access Methods Inc.; the renamed company then purchased AMIBIOS from Access Methods. Shankar became the president and Sarma the executive vice-president of this company. This partnership continued until 2001, when LSI Logic purchased the RAID Division of American Megatrends; American Megatrends then purchased all shares of the company owned by Sarma, making Shankar the majority owner.

Worldwide offices[18][edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Corporate Information." American Megatrends.
  2. ^ "S.Shankar's Biography." iiT.Madras.org. (scroll down)
  3. ^ "Contact Us." American Megatrends. Retrieved on May 6, 2009. "Mailing Address American Megatrends Inc. 5555 Oakbrook Pkwy Building 200 Norcross, Georgia 30093"
  4. ^ "OFFICIAL ZONING MAP OF THE CITY OF NORCROSS." City of Norcross. Retrieved on May 29, 2011.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Daniel G. "Business revolutionary." Smart Business. July 2004. Retrieved on May 6, 2009.
  6. ^ Morris, Ricky. "Motherboard Industry Overview." Digitimes. Monday June 9, 2008 (last update Wednesday July 9, 2008). Retrieved on May 6, 2009.
  7. ^ "American Megatrends Inc. to Sell Industry-Leading RAID Business to LSI Logic." Business Wire. May 29, 2001. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  8. ^ K. F. Ibrahim (2002). PC Operation and Repair. Pearson Education. p. 223. ISBN 0-582-45270-8. 
  9. ^ Jennifer Fulton (2002). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Upgrading and Repairing PCs. Alpha Books. pp. 214–215. ISBN 0-02-864239-2. 
  10. ^ a b c d Scott Mueller (2002). Upgrading and Repairing PCs. Que Publishing. pp. 368–372. ISBN 0-7897-2745-5. 
  11. ^ Phil Croucher (2001). "Advanced CMOS setup". The Bios Companion: The Book That Doesn't Come with Your Motherhood!. Lulu.com. p. 128. ISBN 0-9681928-0-7. 
  12. ^ American Megatrends. "AMIBIOS Support". 
  13. ^ "Unsupported operating system". eSupport.com. TouchStone Software. 2007. 
  14. ^ Mikko Hypponen. "F-Secure Computer Virus Information Pages: Happy Birthday". 
  15. ^ Anand Lal Shimpi (1998-04-20). "Supermicro P6DBS/DBE BX Pentium II Board". AnandTech. 
  16. ^ Thomas Pabst (1998-05-26). "Review of Slot 1 Motherboards with Intel 440BX Chipset — Spring 1998". Tom's Hardware. 
  17. ^ "Defective AMI BIOS on multiple Foxconn, MSI, and ASUS Intel LGA 775 motherboards breaks ACPI support". Ubuntu Launchpad bug tracking system. 2008. 
  18. ^ "International Offices." American Megatrends. Retrieved on May 6, 2009.
  19. ^ "American Megatrends Announces the Opening of a New Branch Office in DuPont, Washington." American Megatrends. Friday April 29, 2005. Retrieved on May 6, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]