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Bad Memory?

Posted on 2001-07-31
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I'm pretty sure I have bad memory.  I keep forgetting where I put my keys before I go to work.  Just kidding.

I purchased 3 512Mb chips a few months ago and now I get random blue screens of death on Windows 2k.  Since I purchased three, how can I check to see which chip is bad other than putting in one at a time?  Is there any program or whatever to check these?

If someone wants to fly to Indianapolis and figure it out, I will award the points.  If not, I guess the person who helps me out the best will get them.
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Question by:thunderchicken
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by:SysExpert
ID: 6337490
I would test them one at a time.

Also I would make sure youe have the newest BIOS in your machine, in case there was trouble supporting 1.5 GB RAM.

recommended file is burnin Test V 1.0.
There are plenty of others for individual tests.

ALso

http://www.simmtester.com/PAGE/products/doc/docinfo.asp

I hope this helps !
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by:Don Thomson
ID: 6337513
When you said you purchased 3 512M chips - can we assume you had them installed at Computer shop. In many cases 512M chips MUST be matched to the motherboard  and this requires special equipment. Testing the Chips in a RAM tester may not show them as defective.

In the meantime - Take all the chips out and carefully clean the contacts with a pink eraser. Then blow out the DIMM sockets with Compressed Air.  If the problem persists - take out one chip  - try it for a while. If the blue screen reappears - write down the memory address of failure.  Take out a second chip and replace the first one where you took out the second - again if the problem reoccurs - write down the memory address. Rotate the chips in this fashiop. If the problem reoccurs on any combination - you may have misimatched chips.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6337530
After I posted this, I realized the best way would just be to rotate all the chips.

I ordered them off of pricewatch.com (probably the biggest mistake).  Since I can't return them for what I paid for them, I would just use what I can.  I was assured of the compatiblity, but I might have been talking to someone who just wanted to make the sell.

I'll try the BIOS update and then go from there with the rotation of chips.

Thanks, I'll let you know, since the blue screen of death occurs randomly, it might be a while until I get back (but I maintain all my questions as you can see with my profile, so don't dispair).
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6337535
Also, what will the memory address conclude?  If I write it down, how can you determine where the error lies (just curious).

I've also had problems where the screen will turn off then on while on Windows.
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by:magarity
ID: 6337831
What do you think 'rotating' the sticks will prove?  SDRAM does not sequentially use the memory by stick so that the first is filled before the next is used.  Instead, it is used in a striped fashion, vaguely similar to a hard drive RAID.  (*** This is overly simplistic!  Other experts need not debate minutae and confuse the person needing help ***)

Does your application really require so much memory that you can't do without one stick for a while, even on a weekend?  I'd suggest taking a time when there is low load to run the system with one stick at a time missing until you deduce the one with the problem.

When you say you ordered it from Pricewatch, well, Pricewatch is just an advertising forum...  they don't actually sell any merchandise themselves.  You can't blame them any more than you could blame the newspaper for something you bought from a classified ad.  What vendor who advertised there did you use and why does this vendor not warrant it?  

And on the subject of ordering memory, if you picked the least expensive thing in the '512MB SDRAM' category for a production server I hope you've learned the lesson that while it's great to seek a deal on price if you get the cheapest junk you can find then you get what you pay for.  Don't let this experience scare you into buying 'Only Genuine HP Memory' (or whoever made your system) but be sure to get Micron or Siemens chips on a stick made by a name manufacturer like Crucial, Atlas, or Kingston.

regards,
magarity
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by:andyalder
ID: 6338293
Did you increase the page file size when you added the extra RAM?
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6338295
Couldn't pass up the deal, thought what the hell, it's not for a server, just my personal PC.  I think I'm going to cycle through all the chips one by one and see what happens.  It happens maybe twice a day when I'm at home and running boocoo applications, like SQL 7, Query Analyzer, IIS, Visual Studio, IE, Outlook, ICQ, AOL-IM are constantly being used.

It's odd, from 256Mb to 1.5G didn't improve much.

But maybe if I can find out which one(s), it wont keep rebooting.
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by:bsampica
ID: 6338326
Thunderchicken,

I skimmed through the posts above and realized that somebody missed one of the first steps to troubleshooting RAM.

If you ordered it from an OEM manufacture, then the sticks most likely didnt come with what is commenly known as Timing.  It gets very important under Win2k to have all the RAM timed correctly.  Sometimes it even can be an issue with 2 different timings set for each bank.  Go into your BIOS on the machine in question.  It's probably listed under Advanced Options, or Chipset Options.  There may be some very extended procedures for timming your RAM in there.  What we are mostly concerened with is the CAS Latency.  or something labeled close to that,  for the size of the stick, 2 is an optimal setting, and 3 would be a safe setting.  The second would be the SD-RAM Precharge control.  This should be left at the default.  SD-RAM Bank interleave should be left disabled.  And if you can time the banks independently,  set them either to SD-RAM 8/10ns, or Normal.  But make sure they are all the same.  (You may not have all the options listed above).  What ever ya do, make sure you remember the original settings, so that you can change them back if you need to.  

As mentioned above.  Rotation of the sticks of RAM will do nothing.  (Unless one of them is actually bad,  then the address will change in sequence in the error.)  But to contest what was mentioned above,  the RAM does "not" need to be matched to a motherboard.  And if the motherboard reads it at all during boot-up, then you "dont" need a bios update to recognize a 512mb stick.  If you installed them yourself.  What I would be most concerend about is your ESD (Electro Static Discharge)  You can get very eronius errors cause by one of the chips, or pathways failing on a specific stick of RAM.  And it may not be totally bad,  it could fail over a period of weeks, caused by the tinyist little shock.  Most likely not even felt by you.  There are lots of DOS level bootable programs that will check each addressable range in your RAM to verify R-W status, and the store of information, and pattern writing.  I would suggest after working with your Timming, going and downloading one and checking your RAM for errors while it is in your system.  (RAM testers are great, but they arent real-time testing, the only true test, is to test the chip in your system board while its running. )

Good Luck

Bryan S.
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by:magarity
ID: 6338549
The thing bsampica is thinking of is called an SPD.  It's the little IC about 2mm by 4mm somewhere on the memory stick, and yes, cheap ones don't have them.  But unless the system's BIOS has been taken off of 'automatic' for memory timing, the memory controller will default to the slowest settings for all the memory if *any* installed memory stick is missing its SPD.

ESD is a good idea for a culprit here, especially if you aren't experience in handling chips.  But the chicken didn't answer my question about what dealer on Pricewatch doesn't offer any warranty.  I'd like to know to avoid buying from them myself.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6338692
I'm pretty sure they have a lifetime warranty, but the cost of sending it back and paying for shipping on the new chip isn't worth it.  The place I got it from was PCBoost.com

Thanks, I'll let you guys know.
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by:pbessman
ID: 6338750
ESD+RAM will usually cause your system to beep non-stop.  Are you using an ATI graphics card by chance?? I have been chasing some issues of my own and granted I only have half the RAM you do but it is enough to cause issues with the memory built in to some of these AGP cards.  I had to set the system BIOS to "optimized" configuration and then set things back that I knew were correct for my system.

What Motherboard are you using???  "In many cases 512M chips MUST be matched to the motherboard".  I doubt that.  I know you have a lot of points here, but I have never seen or heard of such until you said that!  Did you mean that you must use a motherboard that can support that much memory?  Anyway, that could be the other issue.  This memory might work on the board, but perhaps only onme or two at a time.  Sure you were sold these chips as compatible, but they probably would be better suited to each having their own motherboard.

Please post system specs here other than just stating you have a problem.  The cause for your problems can vary from system to system.
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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6338867
here is a good place to chekc and see what others have said about people seelling on pricewatch.com,   www.resellerratings.com        i always cross referrence the people on pricewatch with this website to help avoid these "little" "problems"  heh

cya
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6339139
Recent Error:

The instruction at "0x00000176" referenced memory at "0x0000176".  The memory could not be "read".

My motherboard does support it.  It's an ASUS something or other, don't have the manual around.

I am using a Voodoo5 AGP 64Mb Video card.

I'm going to pull 2 chips and see what happens and go from there.
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by:kiranghag
ID: 6339348
setting the speeds higher in the bios may cause such errors. try the lower (slower) settings for RAS-toCAS delay, and other SDram related settings.

I had once overrated my ram chips and used to get the random BSoSs, making me believe that RAM has died. But thankfully, i remembered that i had only screwed up the things. I changed the settings back and the chips are running fine.
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by:theo kouwenhoven
ID: 6339488
It is possible that only one of the memory modules is not good, so send me the ticket to Indianapolis and I will try to find out wich one that is.

(Or try to remove one of them and run with the other two, and repeat that until you have used all combinations of two modules).

GL
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pbessman earned 150 total points
ID: 6340375
"I ordered them off of pricewatch.com (probably the biggest mistake)."  Actually you bought them from PCBOOST.  I have never had any problems with things I purchased from Pricewatch listed vendors.  You do have to make sure the vendors are reliable, and you should read their return policies as well as any bulletins they post.  I know of one vendor that took the trouble to verify which motherboards would work with its memory and which would not.  That was when the PC-133 RAM was just starting to drop in price and the memory they had was best reserved for AMD based systems as most of the compatible chipsets listed were for AMD based systems.  
    Most of the participants are quite reliable and are usually listed with their local BBB.  Pricewatch does not sell the memory, they just provide an easy way to look up and compare prices from participating vendors.

"My motherboard does support it.  It's an ASUS something or other, don't have the manual around."

That really does not help much as they use several different chipset options.  Please specify which motherboard you have so that we can look at the specs ourselves.  Also it would be of import to tell us what peripherals and Processor you are using.  Many devices have their own built in memory. This is very important and will help all of those trying to help you resolve your issue.

Do you happen to be running a Soundblaster "Live! Value card?"  If so make sure you have the latest drivers as there were issues with Processors running over 600Mhz and their old drivers.  Also, what video card are you using?  ATI points out on their website that using over 512MB of RAM with some of their cards has been known to create issues.  I faced that one myself.  It was causing a "stacks" overflow and my system would not even boot.  When it did boot, it would crash after using it for a while at random times.

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by:pbessman
ID: 6340414
You may want to see what this site offers you in your quest for a solution to your issue.  http://knowledge.asus.com.tw/eng/
It seems like you may find the solution using their tool.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6341397
> setting the speeds higher in the bios may cause such errors. try the lower (slower) settings for RAS-toCAS
delay, and other SDram related settings.

I tried the settings, there were just enabled, disabled, or automatic, most were automatic.  Using AWARD BIOS if that helps.

> It is possible that only one of the memory modules is not good, so send me the ticket to Indianapolis
and I will try to find out wich one that is.

Cycled through them all last night in 1st slot, all had errors, put one in the 2nd slot, working fine so far.

> Do you happen to be running a Soundblaster "Live! Value card?"  

Didn't think of that one.  Actually the errors started happening after I installed this.  I'll try this at home tonight, i'll find the motherboard model when I get home, but the errors started happening when I got this sound card, which may fix it.

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by:pbessman
ID: 6342320
Try using the latest version of Soundblasters Liveware drivers.  They fixed a blue screen issue I was having.  You said you have an AWARD BIOS that is a good start.  Especially since you are using Soundblaster card.  Is it safe to assume your motherboard has a built in sound card that you are not using?  A lot of the motherboards that have a built in CNR or AMR slot seem to incorporate sound into their motherboards.  Just a guess but you may want to check this out anyway.  There is a BUGFIX on this page for soundblaster issues.  It may be a good idea to read this whole page and see if anything else here has caused issues.http://www.viahardware.com/download/index.shtm

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by:pbessman
ID: 6342329
Have you also loaded win2K SP2?  That also fixes various issues?
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by:pbessman
ID: 6342346
YOu said AWARD BIOS I am guessing it is VIA chipset as well.  Hope it helps.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6342362
Yea SP2 is loaded.

Here's what happened:

I took out all 3 chips last night, then I put each one in.  I got the blue screen of death right after the splash screen loaded on Win2K on 2 of the 3 chips.

The motherboard does have a sound card imbedded, but I disabled the jumper when I installed the card.

Thanks for the link, I'll let you know when I get off of work in 15 minutes..... come on clock...

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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6342366
I don't know much about hardware to know what's what is what, so that's greek to me.
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by:Somebody_else
ID: 6342398
if you could post the actual mother board model that would help a lot!! it should be printed on the motherboard, usually between some of the isa/pci slots (the long black or little white slots on the motherboard)
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by:pbessman
ID: 6342428
I already asked for that and he will do it tonite when he can see it.  I have to go myself but will be back shortly.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6342521
ASUS A7V133

Trying to update the SoundBlaster Drivers now...
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by:SysExpert
ID: 6342913
Also look into the VGA aperature . Try 64 MB setting since that is the size of your VGA card.
It sounds like you may have a faulty DIMM socket from your description so far.

I hope this helps !
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6342919
So far, so good with the Sound Card driver update....
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by:pbessman
ID: 6343026
It says right there on that page.  I figured your RAM was good.  Keep in touch!
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by:Don Thomson
ID: 6343235
Based on the Specs your A7133 is a powerhouse of a board. It can support :

3 x DIMM Socket to Support Max. 1.5GB PC133/VC133 non-ECC SDRAM

Is that the type of ram you got for it.

What type of HD are you using?  UDMA 33  66  100 ??

This board supports up to UDMA 100  I have found that a mismatch on the UDMA and PIO  setting in the bios can cause lockup and major errors.

Try going to www.pcpitstop.com   run their on line analysis and see if anything pops up that doesn't look right.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6343294
> 3 x DIMM Socket to Support Max. 1.5GB PC133/VC133 non-ECC SDRAM, Is that the type of ram you got for it.

I don't know, this is what the invoice says:  512 MB 64x64 PC133 - 168 Pin DIMM

> What type of HD are you using?  UDMA 33  66  100 ??

All?

I have three hard drives, 45Mb is 100ATA, 27Mb is 66ATA and a 9 Gig is currently disabled (not powered on or plugged in)

> This board supports up to UDMA 100  I have found that a mismatch on the UDMA and PIO  setting in the
bios can cause lockup and major errors.

What does that mean?  Pretend I'm your mother and explain that to me  :)


So far no lock ups from the Sound Driver, though I haven't exclusively used the sound card tonight, I also still have 1 Memory Chip in the middle slot.


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by:Don Thomson
ID: 6343333
Some drives like fujitsu  come factory preset at say UDMA-66   But if they are connected to an IDE controller that only supports UDMA 2 or UDMA33  they have a program that allows you to set the drive at those levels. If you move the drive to a faster PC that support UDMA 100 - then you would need to reset the drive up to the maximum. If your bios setting under integr Peripherals  is set to auotomatic on UDMA and PIO  and the IDE Controller doesn't recognize which type of drive it is - it may just default to the lowest setting  say UDMA 2  (old 4 Gig)  While the Drive is actually set to UDMA100  - The mismatch could cause problems and lockups.  The problem of not recognizing can sometimes be caused by a slow spinup by the drive.

Try the PCPitstop program and see if any of the drives or memory specs are below standards
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by:pbessman
ID: 6343375
Not to worry there is also a driver on the page I directed you to before that would enable full function of your system with all of your drives attached.  I have a similar Pentium III based system and the assignments are configured automatically making the setup a snap.  Since you are running SP2 with your Windows 2K this is not the issue that we are dealing with when running windows 98.
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by:pbessman
ID: 6343409
I had heard a friend say something about putting the memory in the middle slot as well.  I think he said he only had to do it once then he added one in the last slot and finally the first until they were all running.  I don't know why that is.  Will you be trying memory in the first slot with your new sound drivers soon?
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6344570
> Try the PCPitstop program and see if any of the drives or memory specs are below standards

No problems with the analysis.

> Will you be trying memory in the first slot with your new sound drivers soon?

Yea, I think I need a good hour or so with WinAmp running along with my chess program, InterDev and SQL Server to see what happens.
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by:pbessman
ID: 6345542
Make sure screen savers are OFF as well can cause problems with games.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6345588
I've had the same problem without the chess program (not really a game, it's just a telnet interface pretty much)
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by:pbessman
ID: 6345932
Sorry, thought you were playing chess with your computer.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6348507
I'm pretty sure that the driver fixed it, no problems since, but I'll give it this weekend to make sure before I award you points, pbessman.  I put the other 2 Chips in last night.

Thanks
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by:pbessman
ID: 6348714
Have a good weekend!  We are having morning Thunderstorms(weird dark and gloomy), gotta power down all my systems.  Hope it works out for you.  Glad to have helped.  This 686B chipset thinsg seems to be getting me lots of mileage  ;-).
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6354002
The driver and a combination of downloading the Code Red Virus taker offerer worked.  Thanks everyone who helped.
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by:pbessman
ID: 6354221
Thanks, glad to have helped out here.
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