PC Stutter due to Interrupt Controllers

I recently purchased the following pc components and built myself a gaming rig:

GIGABYTE GA-P35C-DS3R Intel Core 2 Duo (Desktop) Socket 775 1333MHz FSB DDR3 1066MHz ATX Motherboard

INTEL Core 2 Duo E6850 3GHz FSB1333MHz 4M LGA775 l BX80557E6850 Processor

OCZ OCZ2RPR800C32GK 2GB PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) DDR2 Memory

ULTRA Lifetime Series LS600 600W Power Supply

MSI NX8800GT-T2D512E OC Geforce 8800 GT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 Video Card

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB SATA 300MB/s 8MB Cache 7200RPM Hard Drive

COOLER MASTER CAC-T05-UB Centurion Case


I plugged everything in and brought the machine up. I loaded the OS (Windows XP Pro) and applied all the patches and service packs. I downloaded the newest video drivers for my video card and made sure all my other hardware had the latest drivers. I then loaded my favorite game (Lotro) and began playing it. I was in love. This machine worked like a champ for at least the first week.

After a week or so, I noticed that if I left the machine on for more than 5-6 hours, it would develop a "stutter" the sound would stutter, the mouse would stutter across the screen, anything you were doing would stutter, etc. and it seemed very weird. If you reboot the machine, the stutter would go away for another couple of hours. I started thinking that it might be heat related so I loaded nTune to monitor all of the internal temperatures. I did not see any getting very high (30-50c) across all the components. I could not monitor the temperature of the northbridge so I made sure that it had a large heatsink on it (OEM) and then I added a 120mm case fan directly above it pulling the heat out the side of the case. The problem still persisted. I even ran the nTune system stability tests for an hour to see if I could cause the machine to overheat, I could not. The machine stays , relatively, ice cold inside.

I began doing some internet research and found another guy with a similar problem. He said that his machine had the stutter about 5 minutes after startup. He would open task manager and could see a few system processes all trying to use the processor at the same time and his processor would jump to like 50% for a split second every second or so, almost like a heartbeat. Sounded a lot like mine.

I waited for my system to have the stuttering issue again. I opened task manager and could see the processor jump to 19% for a split second every second or two but the System Idle Process showed as using 99% of the processor (completely idle even though the CPU was at 19% momentarily) I downloaded Process Explorer from Microsoft. I ran it and found that the System Interrupt controller was the culprit. Every time the CPU would jump to 19%, the System Interrupt Controller would jump to 19% also. Now I am thinking it is a motherboard issue. I examine my BIOS and find that I am running version F4 and the manufacturer is up to version F10. So I go ahead and Flash my BIOS to version F10. The machine runs for an entire day without an issue. Then the stutter comes back.

I replaced the mouse, strictly because I didn't like it, and the stutter went away for almost 2 days. I thought to myself "Of all the dumb things it could have been..."

Today, it started stuttering again with the same issue. The System Interrupt Controller... I am at a loss as to what else I can try. Any help you can offer me would be greatly appreciated.
robertbranchAsked:
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chilternPCConnect With a Mentor Commented:
also note if you get any MS updates ......
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gambit_642Commented:
Is the HD activity led turning on during these spasms?

This is a shot in the dark but given the fact that it is taking time for this issue to occur, it sounds memory related.  The only thing that really changes over time is CPU temp, and free available memory.

Try the free memory tester from here (recommend the bootable ISO):
http://www.memtest86.com/
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
Yes the HD activity light flashes as these spasms occur. What should I be looking for on the Memory tester? I will run it tonight when I get home.
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gambit_642Commented:
You can alternatively try pull half the memory out and running like that for a couple of days.  If it continues try the other half.

Only problem with this issue is that a defective board could also cause memory timing issues, so I would rule out the board.
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gambit_642Commented:
It will report bad sectors in memory, or failures to read and write.
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gambit_642Commented:
*CORRECTION
"Wouldn't rule out the board"
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chilternPCCommented:
are you this guy;

http://forums.techguy.org/hardware/675182-pc-stutter-due-interrupt-controllers.html

it works ok while playing the game and stutters only when the PC is idling?
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
Yep that's me. I wasn't getting any replies on that thread so I moved it over to Expert's Exchange because you guys are the best. Yeah it only seems to do it when the computer is idle, but that could be because I don't sit at the pc for 5-6 hours so I am not sure if that actually has anything to do with it. I was just trying to clarify that it isn't game related.
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chilternPCCommented:
if it is the interrupt controller working its guts out then it implies there's interrupts being serviced and the rate seeems to point to afaulty device that's generating them - sinceyou found a others with your board with this problem i would suspect the mobo some line is floating and causing interrupts - back in the old days we had to make sure all un-used interrupts were grounded (i.e. kept at 0v)  - mabybe the motherboard has plugs/sockets not connected or eathed.
I assume you applied the motherboards utility disc that came with the motherboard (the one that has all the motherboard device drivers on etc..)  connected all the usb /firewire ports, sound ports.
another area to check it the BIOS settings - have you enabled legacy usb, and check how the section on  interrupts are configured?
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I just got home and ran the Memtest software. The memory passed all of the tests. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it.

I agree that it seems like there is some device causing this issue. I only found one guy in my internet research who was having a similar problem and he did not have the same Mobo as me, so I don't think it is an issue with this particular model. I did run the Mobo software that came with it and I have since upgrade the BIOS and Firmware to the newest version offered by the manufacturer. When I loaded the newest BIOS, I changed all the settings to the "Fail-Safe" default and the issue still occured. I then went in and made the changes that I saw fit. Legacy USb is enabled and the only section I can find for the interrupts is PCI interrupts. There are 3 of them and they are all set to auto. As far as I know, I correctly connected all of the ports and devices to the mobo. This is not the first PC I have built, although I am by no means an expert on hardware.
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gambit_642Commented:
Out curiosity, try disabling the windows Pagefile.

As we discussed earlier, there was HD activity when the problem occurs.  See if the problem persist if not set to make writes the drive for page purposes.

This wouldn't be a permanent fix but may be able to single out the HD or HD controller.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I have disabled the paging file and I will let the pc run over night.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I forgot to click the "set" button when I changed the page file last night so the stutter was back again this morning but the paging file was not tested. I turned off the paging file this morning and let the pc run all day while I was at work. The issue did not occur and the machine has been up for 10 hours. I will let the pc run over night to see if this did, in fact, fix the issue.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I attempted to use the computer at 9pm EST and found that the stutter had returned. I reboot, and the pc is fine. I am at my wits end over this.
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chilternPCCommented:
so, when you reboot the stutter goes? - so not a heat problem but a time based problem - maybe a buggy device driver , memory module or microcode or low level code problem ?
you have a mobo with SATA 2 not SATA 1 ?
have you tried replacing the memory?
try  a plugging in  sata  II disc controller card and disable the motherboard one?
try disconnect all devices not being used, disable the devices in the hardware section, shutdown all non essential services and try and narrow down the fault - although I think if you find it it may be the mother board.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I won't be able to swap my parts for any other parts as I don't have any lying around and my Wife surely isn't going to let me purchase anymore... it was like pulling teeth to get the ones I have now. I can, however, send these parts back and get replacements if I knew which ones were faulty. Could this be an OS problem? Should I try reloading the OS?
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chilternPCCommented:
from what you have said it sounds like the hard disc controller /  and PIC - swap the motherboard.

but is ok when you are playign a game.
acually here's a thought - when the stutter comes - look at the processes and "right click"  the process you suspect is causing the problems and see what the priority is - the process priority should be normal - if it is try setting the priority to "low"

also you say it was ok for a week - so it could be an update from microsnot that has stuffed it - check the restore points to see if anything happend around that time and do a system restore back to the 'good old days'  (start-ll programs-accessories=system tools=system restore) and follow the wizard
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
I will attempt the system restore tonight. System restore just resets device drivers and such, right? I won't lose any data or uninstall any programs will it?
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chilternPCCommented:
yep the system restore just restore the "system"  (what ever that is)
so documents,emails will still be there - programs install after the restore ponit may go, but the restore process is reversible - so check it out see it if works then you know its a program or ms update that has crippled your machine
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
The restore did not solve the issue. I restored all the way back to the day I installed the OS and the stutter still appeared after a few hours. The other user I read about  that had a similar issue reloaded his OS about 5 times and on the fifth time, he said the stutter thing went away. I don't really want to reload the OS 5 times, but I wonder if I should try reloading it at least once? If it was an OS problem, wouldn't there be some sort of messages in the Event Viewer?
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chilternPCCommented:
maybe stop windows updates atfter the restore ?
it sound like an advert NOT to but that mother board.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the lack of response, I have been very busy of late. Today I completely removed the OS of my system adn reinstalled it from scratch. I loaded all of the newest drivers for each device and applied all Windows Updates. I have not installed any other program except Lord of The Rings Online. I will let the system run for a few days to see if this solves the issue. I have my fingers crossed.
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robertbranchAuthor Commented:
The computer has been running non-stop for 5 days and the stutter issue has not resurfaced. Apparently the reload of the OS solved the issue. I have applied all current Microsoft updates and the stutter still hasnot occured so I do not believe it was an issue with an MS update.
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