Eee900-en by mahmoud.ibm5000


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									                               Asus Eee PC 900 Upgrade
                                         Tom Alderweireldt
                                         November 30, 2009

1    Introduction
A mid 2008 Asus Eee PC 900 remains the one and only original mini notebook, but who never wished
the tiny SSD’s were just a little larger or faster? Many have undoubtedly tried out Nlite in XP or other
tools like eeedora in Linux to save space on the tiny SSD’s. In addition, with an old bios version such as
0806 from 07/07/2008 you needed a lot of luck to find a larger memory bar that worked.

Therefore I tried to summarize my very positive experience to give your Eee a second life. With many
thanks to Asus for their newest 1006 bios version.

2    Flashing the bios
The first requirement for a successful Eee PC-900 upgrade is to flash the bios to the most recent version
1006 of 3/3/2009, which can be found on the ASUSTek website (select Eee family, Eee PC and PC 900):

The original Eee PC-900 has a small fast 4 GB IDE SSD and a slow 16 GB IDE SSD, both of brand
Phison. Speed comparison with the ’hdparm -t /dev/sda’ command in Linux shows a transfer rate of 38
MB/s for the small disk and 28 MB/s for the large disk.

Quite remarkably, the new bios 1006 now allows the Eee PC to recognize SATA disks. After installation
of a SATA-II SSD disk, the second IDE disk in the bios is gone (not installed), but an additional bios
option Sata-Master shows up. A drawback is that an existing Win XP installation can no longer find
the NTloader on the small 4GB disk to boot. As ’workaround’ without reinstallation I found out that
when using the ’Esc’ button during bootup, you can still select a boot device and when you pick the
4GB Phison, XP starts. (Maybe a hint for Asus to fix in their next bios update?) Nevertheless, a decent
SATA-II SSD disk now offers disk speeds over 100 MB/s, more than 4x faster than the old slow SSD, a
world of difference for this small PC.

The bios file is not very large and should be renamed as 900.ROM in the C-disk root. When you boot
wiht the ’ESC’ button, the Eee should automatically start the EZ flash bios flashing program. You can
select a boot medium, but recognizing the the 900.ROM file didn’t work in my case. Apparently you
should use a FAT16 USB volume. Alternate solutions exist, such as AFUDOS (see also Asus website).
Starting the bios flash procedure on my Eee in XP worked fine with AsusUpdate XP After
installation of this program and reboot, the bios flash procedure started normally.

As a second important advantage, the 1006 bios now allows more memory upgrades: with the old 0806
bios I could not replace the old 1GB RAM with a 2GB Corsair DDR2-667 bar, but with the new 1006
bios no problem at all to install the same Corsair 2GB memory bar.

A third advantage of the bios upgrade to 1006 is the improved thermal control. In practice, the fan starts
less frequently and much shorter when the PC warms up, whereas with the old bios, continuous fan noise
was rather annoying. Most likely this also helps to reduce battery power conservation.
At the end of the flash procedure the following screen is shown:

                                      Figure 1: flashing the bios

3    Memory upgrade
The new bios allowed installation of a 2GB Corsair DDR2-667 (PC-5300) notebook memory bar without
problems. Can be found a.o. Forcom Edegem under notebook memory (or your nearest PC component

                         Figure 2: Corsair 2GB DDR-2 667 notebook memory

4    Overview of Eee Solid State replacement disks
The correct disk type is SSD Mini PCI-e. There are several possibilities. The small fast 4GB SSD is
soldered to the motherboard and cannot be replaced easily. The large slow original Phison 16GB SSD is
easy to replace. With the new bios, the Eee 900 now even accepts SATA disk interfaces i.o. IDE. I found
3 solutions worth considering:

OCZ: part no. OCZSSDMPES-64G. Can be found in Belgium at MPL Edegem, but is very expensive
(263 e) and not the fastest (110 MB/s read - 51 MB/s write speed):

Runcore: part no. RCP-I-S7064-C. Availability of this SSD only in the US or UK, and recently dropped
in price to 199$ without shipment cost (+/- 133 e). This SSD is the least expensive 64GB I found, but
the slowest with 90 MB/s read and 55 MB/s write speed, but no doubt still much faster than the original

Phison 16GB.

Super Talent:
SuperTalent has several large capacity SSD’s, IDE as well as SATA. I selected the most recent SATA
Mini2 FPM64GLSE, which I believe to be one of the fastest currently available in 64GB size with 150
MB/s read and 100 MB/s write speed. It also exists in 128GB size, but this costs as much as an entire
Eee 900. I found my FPM64GLSE for 150eat PCHut in the Netherlands, but unfortunately the price
has just been raised to 171ein spite of favorable US$ exchange rate.

                         Figure 3: SuperTalent Sata Mini2 PCIe 64GB SSD

The SuperTalent website offers a nice overview of all available SSD models PDF format, with a lot of
additional information on speeds and technology used.

5    Replacing the hardware in the Eee PC 900
Important when opening up PC’s and replacing components: always touch the PC mass and components
before replacing, to avoid static electricity damage.

The backside cover of the Eee PC can be opened by removing 2 screws. The right one is hidden under a
Eee sticker.

At the bottom the memory slot can be seen. If you push the two rounded clamps to the outside, the
memory bar turns upward and can be removed easily.

At the top you can see the 16 GB SSD disk, 70mm long, with the connector on the left side. When you
remove both screws on the right side of the disk (with a magnetic head screwdriver to avoid dropping
the screws inside the PC), the SSD rotates upwards and can also be replaced easily:

                             Figure 4: Eee PC 900 with opened back cover

6    Overclocking the Eee PC 900
Windows XP
The default Eee 900 processor clock speed is 900 MHz. On battery power it drops to 630 MHz. With
( you can modify several PC settings manually. Starting eeectl in
XP installs an extra icon on the menu bar (lower right), showing the current processor temperature.
Right mouse click on that icon gives you a menu where you can modify the clock speed manually (stock
(630 MHz), medium or full (900 MHz)). The menu also allows to set fan speed and display backlight

                                   Figure 5: eeectl 0.2.4 screenshot

The program setfsb is also interesting:

As the name implies, setfsb allows to modify the Front Side Bus speed of the PC and really overclock
your Eee faster than factory default. Overclocking is not recommended on battery power with the original
4400 MAh battery, because it draws more power and my battery didn’t like that. I now have a larger

7350 MAh battery. The clock settings of the PC are controlled through the clock generator chip on the
motherboard (the PLL-chip).
Warning: writing wrong data to the PLL chip can permanently damage your PC mother-
board! Make sure you first select the correct PLL chip for Eee (see screenshot - ICS9LPRS906CGLF)
and then click Get FSB:

                         Figure 6: setfsb 2 1 69 menu with Eee PLL selection

Default FSB speed is 400 MHz, PCI-express interface 100 MHz. When increasing both by about 5%, the
Eee remains stable (950 MHz), but above 1000 MHz it becomes unstable. With CPU-Z you can look at
the result:

                        Figure 7: Eee running at 950 MHz - CPU-Z screenshot

Unfortunately these settings are one time ( not written permanently in the PLL) and you have to reset
them after every reboot. Possibly (commercial) setfsb versions exists allowing to save the settings per-
manently. Make sure you watch processor temperature while overclocking to avoid processor damage. A
useful utility is HWMonitorPro 1.08.

The eee-control program also exists for Linux. You can compile the source yourself, but Eee-control also
exists as rpm package in Fedora 11. This package didn’t work right away. It requires manual activation

of the daemon - to be studied.

7    Conclusion
After bios upgrade and most of all with the much faster speed of the new Super Talent SSD, one sees
how extremely the Eee was limited by slow disk speed performance. Using the ’top’ command in Linux
to watch CPU consumption of the processes, shows higher usage of the CPU. This also confirms that
even an older Celeron M353 processor had to wait for slow disk response. Even with this processor and
the SuperTalent SSD, the Eee performance now feels like a normal PC. Much appreciated!

With this level of Eee performance, no more need for stripped down Nlited XP or Linux eeedora versions.
After upgrade, my Eee could run the complete Fedora 11 installation and boots up in less than 1 minute.
With the old 16GB disk, the Eee needed more than 12 hours for a Fedora 11 update, with the new 64GB
SuperTalent F11 installs in about 1 hour. Need I say more?

During this testcase I left the Windows XP on the 4GB fixed SSD and in dual boot installed Fedora
11 on the new SuperTalent, but with hindsight, since it is so much faster, it would have been better
to reinstall both OS’es to the new fastest disk and leave the old fixed 4GB SSD just as additional data
volume. Maybe I’ll reconsider that later when installing Windows 7 on the old Eee.

Have fun with your Eee upgrades!



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