A processing unit couples to a system bus in common with a peer processor, a main memory, in addition to other units, and includes a microprocessor which tightly couples to a local memory also accessible from such bus. The processing unit also includes an addressable electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM) unit which is coupled to the microprocessor and the system bus. The EEPROM unit stores in first and second separate regions, both of which occupy the same address space normally allocated for storing the microprocessor's boot code, on-board diagnostic (OBD) routines and operating system boot routines, respectively. EEPROM control circuits at power-up, condition the EEPROM unit to address the first region for executing OBD routines to verify that the processing unit is operating properly, including the ability to properly issue commands to units connected to the system bus. Following loading of the peer processor operating system, the EEPROM control circuits, in response to commands from the system bus, enable the microprocessor to address the second region for executing boot routines for loading its operating system.