Upgrade CPU without reinstalling Windows Server 2003?

Posted on 2003-11-24
Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I had a smooth installation of Windows Server 2003 going on an older 700MHz Athlon-based server.  Over the weekend I swapped out everything in the box except for the boot drive (let's call it C:).  The new CPU is a P4 with Hyper-Threading and all is well.  The Device Manager shows all devices operating properly including all the new motherboard resources.  But...

Unlike my other computers with HT that show two "CPU's" in the Task Manager, Performance tab, this Windows Server 2003 only shows one.  I tried setting NUMBER_OF_PROCESSORS=2 in the environment and in the registry, but it won't stick.

Am I being naive to think I can change mobo+CPU without doing a new installation of Windows Server 2003?

It seems to be working great except for this one thing.  I have HT [enable] in the BIOS, by the way.



C:> set
PROCESSOR_IDENTIFIER=x86 Family 15 Model 2 Stepping 7, GenuineIntel

Question by:geekboysteves

Accepted Solution

Mr_Skinny earned 250 total points
ID: 9811688
Most likely you will have to re-install.  Windows will have set itself up for single processor operation during the install, I think it uses a different kernel for multi-processor.

Author Comment

ID: 9812081
I didn't realize Windows used a different kernel for multiple CPU installations.  Actually, I didn't know Windows had a kernel!  I thought that was just Unix systems.  I figured Windows had one main executable core program (kernel) and that was it.  I will reinstall the OS, but what a drag!  It's a Terminal Server and I can never get everbody off of it long enough for maintenance, especially now that it's on 2003 and so fast.  Who needs a "real" computer with that?
Thanks for the tip.

Expert Comment

ID: 9817199
This is what I did when adding a second processor to Windows 2000 Advanced Server (which I am sure will be the same method for 2003).

Go into Device Manager and expand Computer. There you should see an entry for Uniprocessor PC etc.

Right-click it, select Properties, then goto Driver > Update Driver > Next > Display a list of the known drivers...... > Next > Show all drivers of this device class

I then selected Multiprocessor PC in the right hand pane, clicked Next etc etc, rebooted and Windows started to use the second processor.
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Author Comment

ID: 9818604
This driver update idea sounds very promising.  I followed the instructions above, but the only option I can get Windows to present is "Standard PC".  I don't know where to point it on "Have Disk" and checking or unchecking the "Show Compatible Hardware" check box doesn't change it from the one choice.

Should I be pointing it to the Windows Server 2003 CD or maybe the driver CD that came with the Intel mobo?

Expert Comment

ID: 9822410
My strong suggestion is to upgrade to Linux as your server.
It will do everything win2003 can do.

Author Comment

ID: 9824713
Really?  Everything?!  Cool!  The primary function of our Windows Server 2003 is to provide access via Terminal Services to Microsoft Office applications (primarily Access) and to act as a SQL Server 2000 server.

I have not investigated it, but does the Linux OS run the above client and server applications?  I cut my teeth on Unix in the 80's and still support BSD Unix installations running Informix.  I miss the good old days of "vi" and "cc", but I don't miss selling Unix/Informix to a PC world.

Expert Comment

ID: 9829373
Hey, just change the driver in device manager for the pc.  Don't let windows search for it, choose let me select from a list.

Also just to clarify, it's not the kernel that's different, it's the HAL.  That's a dll that provides the kernel with a common device interface and the HAL handles actually controlling the hardware.  This is what prevents direct hardware access by software, everything must go through the HAL.

Author Comment

ID: 9829451
When I say I want to select it from a list, "Standard PC" is the only choice it shows.  I've clicked every combination in there and that's all I can get it to show.  I have another PC, my desktop, that has the P4 with HT and when I go to the same place in its Device Manager it shows 4 different multi-processor options.  So I am at a loss as to how to get my Server to show me the same 4.  I'd love to not reinstall becuase I have such an investment in time getting this installation going so nice all except for the multi-processor thing.
Thanks for your advice!

Expert Comment

ID: 9831448
The only problem with changing your system type in 'Devices' to one of the generic options is that if you select the wrong type of driver the wrong Kernel Module will be loaded and on re-boot will blue screen the system (I know this from bitter experience). If things go wrong you are pretty much forced to boot 2k from recovery disks, scrabble for suitable SCSI card drivers and unpack / re-load the proper kernel from the install media using the management console.

The standard choice for boards is very limited (a couple of generics and IBM's from what I can remember) and so it would be worth searching to see if your board vendor provides a proper multiprocessor driver before attempting to use a generic one.

Good Luck


Expert Comment

ID: 12147567
I would like to upgrade from a PIII/800 to a P4/3.0.  Is it safe to assume this can be done.  Any thoughts...

It sounds like geekboysteves was successful - except for the dual processor...

Author Comment

ID: 12148817
Dear sgiamma,
I would sure go for it.  We have not re-installed Windows Server 2003 on this computer yet and I think the change we made (Athlon to P4) was much more drastic than you're doing.  Our server is super-fast and up 24/7 since I posed this question originally (11/24/03).  Still no multiple CPU, but I have learned to live with that.  No one else even knows about this shortcoming.
Good luck!

Expert Comment

ID: 12160448
Are you saying I can simply shutdown, change MB, processor and memory then restart.  I wish/hope it would be that simple...

This is my PDC, runs 24/7 also.  It houses a raid controller with 4 drives, exchange server and multiple software apps.  If you could give me a play by play on your upgrade procedure, I sure would appreciate it.  I can't mess this up.

I plan on building a BDC with the same intended configuration and backup eyerything I can prior to any attempt to upgrade the PDC.

This is scary stuff - sure would appreciate your furthur comments...

Author Comment

ID: 12160697
When we (my 17 year old son and I) did the hardware upgrade we replaced:

* Main board/CPU/RAM
* Video card
* Power supply (required by new mobo)

We left in place all the drives (floppy, CD/3HD) and used the same NIC.  All we did was swap out all the above* components and plugged the ribbon cables back in to the new mother board.  When we powered it up it just worked.  We didn’t have to install any mother board drivers or anything, but I can see that might come up depending on what board you install.

My experience has been very good with this operation.  I have done it many times to preserve very complicated software setups that I don’t want to or can not re-create—like real old environments.  We develop software so we like to keep as many different versions of Windows going as possible for testing.  We don’t have any Windows 3.1 systems, but we are running Windows NT4 on a production SQL server.

We use removalble hard disk caddies, so we can move boot disks from machine to machine without a care or even a screwdriver--we have no two computers alike.

You have nothing to lose.  The new hardware isn’t going to mess with the contents of your hard drives.  You can always put it back the way it was.  I’d do it on a Friday so you still have some options if you run into some last minute parts you need to obtain locally.

Have fun!

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