1. Computer problem? Tech Support Guy is completely free -- paid for by advertisers and donations. Click here to join today! If you're new to Tech Support Guy, we highly recommend that you visit our Guide for New Members.

Possible Dual-Channel Memory Problems

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by rmiller1959, Oct 22, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. rmiller1959

    rmiller1959 Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    14
    :confused:

    Back in August, I did something I know I shouldn't do. I installed two new hardware components and upgraded to Windows XP Service Pack 2 at the same time, which meant that when I started to have problems, I couldn't trace it to a specific item or action.

    Anyway, after I did this, I began experiencing random shutdowns in Windows XP SP 2. The system would operate without a problem, sometimes for several hours, sometimes for days, sometimes for only minutes, but the random shutdowns would inevitably occur. When the system recovered, I got a "Windows has recovered from a serious error" message, followed by a Web site message informing me that a device driver caused the error (although never stating which one!).

    I ran the Windows memory diagnostic utility on the memory modules (Kingston kit of two matched 512MB DDR400 PC3200 modules), and they checked out OK. When a Microsoft support rep told me his review of my system minidump files identified my ATI video driver as the culprit, I replaced the ATI card with a nVidia FX5200 AGPx8 card. I replaced the power supply with an Antec NeoPower 480, and I even replaced the motherboard (after short-circuiting the original!). BTW, my motherboard is a Shuttle AN35N-Ultra, and my processor is a AMD Athlon XP 3200+.

    None of these remedies worked, and I was attributing the random shutdowns to Windows XP SP 2. Recently, on a whim, I removed one of the two Kingston memory modules which I was running in dual-channel mode. I ran MemTest86 on the remaining module, and it checked out OK, even after 21 passes. My system has been stable for 8 days now, and I'm going to give it another week just to be sure. I then plan to swap memory modules, test the replacement module, and then run my system for two weeks to see if it remains stable.

    If what I suspect is true, the dual-channel mode of operation may be responsible for my system's random shutdowns. I was running my system with a single memory module prior to the installations noted above. Is this possible? If that's the problem, how do I correct it to effectively use dual-channel mode and get the most out of my system? Thanks for your help!

    Regards,

    Ron
     
  2. rmiller1959

    rmiller1959 Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    14
    I solved my problem with random shutdowns, and I wanted to share the solution with everyone. After experiencing the problem on three separate motherboards, I isolated the problem by identifying the common components and concentrating my troubleshooting efforts on those.

    I experienced the random shutdowns on two separate iterations of the Shuttle AN35/N Ultra motherboard. By way of explanation, I short-circuited the first motherboard while replacing the ATI Radeon 9200SE video card I originally suspected as the culprit with a nVidia GeoForce FX5200. To avoid going through the Windows and MS Office product activation process, I ordered another Shuttle AN35/N Ultra as a replacement. The random shutdown problem persisted, however. Thinking perhaps the Shuttle motherboard was the problem, I replaced it with a Gigabyte GA-7N400-L motherboard, but the random shutdowns continued.

    Perplexed, I decided to identify the components common to both motherboards, and that narrowed my troubleshooting options down to the nVidia nForce2 Ultra400 chipset, the Kingston KVR400AK2/1GR memory kit, and the AMD Athlon XP 3200+ Barton CPU. I tested each of the memory modules individually using MemTest86, and they passed with flying colors. When I tested them together in dual-channel mode, however, I got several errors. This was borne out in real-world testing; when using only one memory module, my system was stable, but when I added the second and ran the system in dual-channel mode, it would shut down randomly and without warning.

    I did some research on the Web and learned that AMD chipsets are notoriously finicky when it comes to timing issues between the memory modules and CPU. Apparently, if they are not running in synchronous mode, then the system’s operating stability is affected. I checked in the BIOS and found that the memory frequency setting was “By SPD,” which meant the system was retrieving the memory timing from the modules themselves and not basing it on the front-side bus speed of the CPU. Since the modules were rated at 400 Mhz, and the FSB was also at 400 Mhz, I didn’t think this setting would be a problem. I changed it, however, to “Auto” so that the memory timing was synchronized with the FSB speed. I’m happy to report that I haven’t had a random shutdown in a month, even with both memory modules operating in dual-channel mode at 400 MHz (398 MHz according to SiSoft Sandra!).

    This has been a frustrating yet educational process. I hope this solution is helpful to someone else who may be experiencing this problem.
     
As Seen On
As Seen On...

Welcome to Tech Support Guy!

Are you looking for the solution to your computer problem? Join our site today to ask your question. This site is completely free -- paid for by advertisers and donations.

If you're not already familiar with forums, watch our Welcome Guide to get started.

Join over 733,556 other people just like you!

Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Short URL to this thread: https://techguy.org/287518

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice