Intel Celeron processor is incompatible with Windows XP-Service Pack 2

Posted on 2004-11-05
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Even new Intel Celeron processors seem to have problems with Windows XP-Service Pack 2, sometimes running poorly after installation, sometimes crashing, sometimes refusing to download/install it at all. These problems appear to be the fault of Microsoft presumably because they didn't test it sufficiently prior to release. My quiestion is whether Microsoft is going to "fix" this flaw and release an updated version that will enable people with Intel Celerons to benefit from the protection afforded by Service Pack 2? Or, conversely, is it every man for himself in finding a solution?
Question by:elebourd
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Hi elebourd,
    check out this link and see if it covers your specific celeron processor. sorry if this is something you've already checked, but i just wanted to rule this out

    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Actually it is hard to find a computer that doesn't have any problem with Service Pack 2. More that 90% problems I saw in computers with Service Pack 2, these problems was because of it. Go just get rid of it ;)
    LVL 69

    Accepted Solution

    Hi ya elebourd  some have problems some dont, often times it is recomended for those who do have problems to uninstal sp2. and the start again from scratch or go back to xp if they donot wish to begin upgrading etc... Here is the big picture and some specs that may provide you with some direction...
    At this point there is no updates available for sp2 itself only some patches which you could search out using google or the updates options.
    At this point sp2 was suggested that it came with all its own in built fixes
    Common Issues with Windows XP Service Pack 2

    Programs that are known to experience a loss of functionality when they run on a Windows XP Service Pack 2-based computer
    Release notes for Windows XP Service Pack 2;%5BLN%5D;835935
    SP2 will hard lock on all XP bootups if BIOS does not push Revision 8 (sometimes 7) microcode to Prescott processors!  Read on for fixes etc.

    This is specifically about a particular problem that can cause a minority of new PCs to lock up after installing Windows XP Service Pack 2.
    What is "Prescott"?

    Prescott is the project name of the latest generation of Pentium 4 and Celeron processors from Intel.  They were released around June 2004, and feature smaller a fabrication size of 90nm that allows Level 2 cache to be doubled; the Celerons (Celeron D) enjoy a base speed boost from 400MHz to 533MHz too. So all Prescott Pentium 4 have 1M Level 2 cache, and all Celeron D have 256k Level 2 cache.  Odd chip out is the Prescott Pentium 4 at specifically 2.4GHz, which has a base speed of 533MHz rather than 800MHz.

    Similarly affected by this XP SP2 issue may be the older, rare and costly Pentium 4 Extreme Edition; like Prescott, this enjoys a larger Level 2 cache.

    How Do I Know if My Computer Is Ready to Install SP2?
    Go to the Windows Update Web site. Windows Update will scan your computer. If it lists Windows XP SP2 as an available update, then your computer is ready for SP2.

    Typical SP2 issues

    There are plenty of excellent pages on the usual SP2 issues such as programs that behave differently or don't work.  Instead, this is about a particular issue that is currently not covered in Microsoft's pre-install checks.  Other significant installation problems are covered here.

    Most SP2 issues (and discussions thereof) will be the result of what SP2 does by design, and how this affects other programs that do things that run foul of that design.  

    This is to be expected, given that SP2 design represents a change in direction for Microsoft; from allowing just about anything to do anything, to blocking several behaviors that malware exploit on a regular basis.  Developers who followed Microsoft's original direction to the max are now likely to find themselves caught in the crossfire (especially if they slept through the generously long SP2 beta period).

    The best way to manage SP2 and the problems it may cause with other programs, is to understand what it does, and why.  That way, you can make a better call as to whether you should give the problem program what it wants, or not!

    However, some users may be in for a nasty shock if they try to install XP Service Pack 2 on a PC that is running an Intel Prescott processor on a motherboard that isn't quite as Prescott-ready as was hoped.  The rest of this page is dedicated to such users, as what they will experience is far more traumatic than a couple of apps that don't work.

     Make sure your security essentials are all marked ON by clicking Start, clicking Control Panel, and then clicking Security Center. Now you're ready to start using Windows XP SP2 with Advanced Security Technologies.
    Get the latest Windows updates. Before you install SP2, get your version of Windows completely up-to-date with the latest performance and security updates. Go to the Windows Update Web site, click Express Install, and then install all high priority updates listed.

    What is "microcode"?

    Anything sufficiently complex that has been handcrafted by humans will contain errors.  Modern software has millions of lines of source code, and modern processors have millions of transistors, so this applies to both.

    Microsoft Operating Systems arrive on CD that is built to a particular Service Pack level, and errors found after that was made will be fixed via patches downloaded from their web site.

    Intel processors are manufactured to a particular stepping level, and errors found after that was made may be fixed via microcode updates sent to the processor, typically by BIOS on every system startup.  BIOS is well-positioned to do this, as the content doesn't require a disk to survive or be accessed, and BIOS POST code will always be run, no matter what OS or disk drive is being booted up.  

    Microcode updates are not stored permanently within the processor; they vanish when the power is cut, so every boot has to re-assert them.

    What is the problem?

    Normally, Windows XP will run whether the BIOS updates Prescott's microcode, or just leaves it at Revision 0.  But the new Update.sys installed as part of XP Service Pack 2 will hard lockup the PC if Prescott's microcode is left below Revision 8 (or for some Prescott steppings, Revision 7).

    How can I predict this?

    If you don't have a Prescott-generation Intel processor, or a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition (I can't comment on Xeon either way), then this issue will not apply to you.
    If you do have a Prescott or other affected processor, or may upgrade to one later, then it may.
    You can download a tool from Intel that will not only tell you whether your processor is relevant to this issue, but whether your BIOS is properly updating its microcode so that it will work properly (with particular respect to XP SP2).  The URL:((Intel® Processor Frequency ID Utility download>>

    If you have a Celeron with 256k Level 2 cache, or a Pentium 4 with over 1M of Level 2 cache, you have a processor that may be at risk.  In addition to this, if the revision level is less than 8 (in some cases 7; typically it will be 0) then you are definitely at risk.

    The definitive fix is to get a BIOS update that will update Prescott's microcode to Revision 8 or better.  Then everything works.  Trouble is, your motherboard vendor may not have written that BIOS as yet; in many cases, even the latest BIOS doesn't do the necessary.

    What will happen if I install SP2 on an affected PC?

    The installation of SP2 will go fine, until it prompts to restart.  Then every attempt to boot XP (Last Known Good, Safe Mode Command Only, the works) will lock up hard before you ever see the desktop.  Fortunately, this happens before file system writes are pending, so the file system doesn't seem to get corrupted.

    If you are doing a "normal" XP boot, you will see the black GUI splash screen with the progress indicator bar that normally moves back and forth.  In my case, this always locks up about 2/3 of its first pass from left to right.

    If you do a Safe Mode boot, then you will see all your drivers being listed as they load.  The last one you see will usually be AGP440.SYS; if you rename that away so it can't load, then the one before that (typically MUP.SYS) will be the last thing you see before lockup.

    At this point you may despair and do something truly damaging, such as trying to re-install Windows (or even wiping the hard drive and rebuilding the software installation).

    How do I get out alive?

    There are two ways; one that allows you to uninstall SP2 and carry on as if nothing had happened, and another that lets you keep SP2, with one file out of use.

    Disable Level 1 and Level 2 cache in CMOS

    This will leave the system running so slowly, you will often think it's crashed!  Have faith; XP will load fine, and you will be able to go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and uninstall Service Pack 2 from there.  

    Expect this to take some hours; when it's done, shut down the PC.  On the next boot, go back into CMOS setup (the magic keys to do that vary between PCs; Del, Ctl+Alt+Esc, Ctl+Alt+S, F1, F2 and F10 are good guesses), find your way to where you disabled the Level 1 and 2 cache last time, enable these again, save settings and quit.

    Rename away Update.sys

    For best results, keep a copy of your old pre-SP2 Update.sys somewhere else before you install SP2.  To find the file, navigate Windows Explorer into your Windows base directory (typically C:\Windows), then into System32, then into Drivers.  You may have to change settings so that Windows Explorer actually shows you these things!

    After you install SP2, and the system can't boot Windows anymore, etc. then fire up your maintenance OS, find the Update.sys file as described, and rename it away.  If you kept the old pre-SP2 copy, then copy that back in as Update.sys - that is currently how I'm running my test PC, and time will tell how well this works.

    Note: Running XP, perhaps especially with SP2, with Prescott that isn't microcode-updated to revision 8 or better, is not the ideal situation.  You really should update BIOS so that it updates the Prescott processor properly, for the definitive fix!

    The big picture

    It's worth keeping a sense of perspective on this; only the few PCs new enough to be running Prescott right now (August 2004) will be affected by this, and then only if the system's BIOS is not doing everything needed for Prescott compatibility.
    What to Know Before You Download and Install Windows XP Service Pack 2
    Published: August 4, 2004 | Updated: September 17, 2004
    Get Windows XP SP2

    You can download SP2 and all future critical updates automatically by turning on the Automatic Updates feature in Windows XP.

    You can also download SP2 from Windows Update. If you cannot use Automatic Updates or download SP2 via Windows Update, order a CD.
     Check your computer for unwanted software.
    You can detect and remove unwanted software from your computer using a variety of tools available from other companies, including Lavasoft Ad-aware. (Note: Microsoft is not responsible for the quality, performance, or reliability of third-party tools.)
     Get the latest PC manufacturer updates for SP2.
    As one of the steps to ensuring you have all of the support information you need to install SP2, we recommend that you visit your PC manufacturer's Web site first and search for any information about SP2 that might apply to your computer.

    Get the Latest Updates and Information from Your PC Manufacturer Before Installing Windows XP Service Pack 2

    Now that was a mouthful.. I hope it helps you. Regards Merete

    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Hi ya again elebourd, what did you decide to do? Do you need help uninstalling sp2 if thats the way you decided, I am sorry to provide such glum news on the subject alas it seems the trend of late. How ever direction you choose best of luck with it. and thanks Regards M

    Author Comment

    Merete, my first question was actually for a friend who is quite new to computers and just got a new Intel Celeron, which balked at downloading SP2 completely. So her computer works fine but she's not getting any of the protections SP2 supposedly provides. (Luckily, my own Compaq Presario 2100 swallowed SP2 without a burp). My friend has found she can't download other recommended updates at Windows Update either - which leads me to one more question: How important is SP2 anyway? Is it too risky for her to just continue with any Windows Update files she can download and Nortin Antivirus? (I did print out for her all the info you provided previously) Thanks for any further thoughts. elebourd

    Featured Post

    Maximize Your Threat Intelligence Reporting

    Reporting is one of the most important and least talked about aspects of a world-class threat intelligence program. Here’s how to do it right.

    Join & Write a Comment

    If you build your web application in Visual Studio you'll get at least a few binaries, or .DLL, files in your bin folder. However, there is more compiling to be done. Normally this would happen when an ASP.NET resource within the web site is request…
    We have adopted the strategy to use Computers in Student Labs as the bulletin boards. The same target can be achieved by using a Login Notice feature in Group policy but it’s not as attractive as graphical wallpapers with message which grabs the att…
    Excel styles will make formatting consistent and let you apply and change formatting faster. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use Excel's built-in styles, how to modify styles, and how to create your own. You'll also learn how to use your custo…
    In this seventh video of the Xpdf series, we discuss and demonstrate the PDFfonts utility, which lists all the fonts used in a PDF file. It does this via a command line interface, making it suitable for use in programs, scripts, batch files — any pl…

    755 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    19 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now