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8600GTS crashes once, fine after reboot; either Linux or Vista, only for 3D applications, curable?

Posted on 2008-10-02
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Last Modified: 2013-12-15
I have a Leadtek / Nvidia PX 8600 GTS dual DVI card in an Acer Aspire T180 box which has an AMD  Athlon-64 X2 4000+. I can give North/South bridge details if anyone thinks they need it.

Basically the system is fine, stable, no crashes - except when I run a 3D application like a game (usually RtCW:ET but any 3D game seems to do it, including the test application, under Vista, that came with the card).

Under Vista (32-bit Home Edition) and Linux (Ubuntu 64-bit 7.10, 8.04 and 8.10alpha) the behaviour is the same which strongly suggests that the problem is the hardware. But I can't work out why when it crashes and then reboots (forced or not), why after reboot it works fine and never crashes another time.

It doesn't matter if it's done immediately I start using the comp or after having it on for an hour or even a whole day, still the same - which suggests it's not a simple heating problem.

I've gone through several driver upgrades on both sides, now using the nvidia-glx-177 drivers under Ubuntu 8.10 alpha6 (and whatever the latest stable are on Vista).

I don't get anything extraordinary in my /var/log/xorg.0.log file but Vista sometimes gives a blue screen with BCCode 116 ("general video fault" from what I can tell). The appearance of the screen is always similar, it's the last screen with lots of short horizontal lines and the last sound clip will loop until reboot. In Linux I can do Alt-Sysrq-R -E -I to kill the X-session, or I can Ctrl-Alt-F1 and see the console, but it's messed up in same way that the X session is and isn't always responsive except to the Alt-Sysrq calls.

Like I said, on reboot it always works flawlessly and has never crashed a second time ... could the BIOS be changing the clocking or something?
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Question by:pbhj
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by:Callandor
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If it crashes on both Vista and Linux, then it sounds like a hardware problem, as you have guessed. The occurrence only once might suggest something not set on the card after a cold boot, which I have seen on some cards (a power off is required to reset them). The fact that it only crashes with 3D games suggests it is something in the hardware that gets activated by heavy computations, perhaps a shader or texture processor.  I think the card itself is faulty and you should replace it, as this is not normal behavior.
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by:pbhj
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Callandor, thanks for your comment, that's pretty much where I am with it, only replacing it is not an option (financially). I was wondering if somehow I could find what the difference was the second time around and then force those settings / conditions for the first boot.
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Callandor earned 500 total points
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I would suggest using a tool like RivaTuner to display the settings so that you can copy them, and then after it crashes and reboots, run it again and see if you can spot a difference.  If there is a difference, you might be able to set it permanently using RivaTuner.
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by:pbhj
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Just learnt about ntune elsewhere and am trying that. So far the graphics card has passed all the relevant tests and has been enabled for overclocking by about 15% without instability. Following running the ntune tests and tuning, which included at least 2 reboots, can't induce a crash in Vista - despite there not having been one yet.

errata: PX 7600 GT, not PX 8600GTS (oops!).

Will checkout RivaTuner when I get time, might be a couple of days now though.
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by:pbhj
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Hmm there doesn't appear to be anything significant reported that is different before / after the crash. Crashes have changed since drivers were updated and now are complete hard-locks requiring power-cycling ... not good.

Am trying RivaTuner ... sorry for delay, don' get much chance to test.
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by:pbhj
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Doesn't seem to help any .. latest driver updates mean that the crash is now a hard crash requiring me to power-off by a long press on the power button (my drives won't like that!). Other than that, no change.
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by:Callandor
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>a hard crash requiring me to power-off by a long press on the power button

This is a sign of a hardware problem, if you have to reset it like that.  That coupled with the problem occurring in other OS'es means hardware is the cause, not drivers or software.
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by:pbhj
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Sorry not been back to accept on this .. the problem persists.

If I play a game in a reduced size window, or sometimes if its open in the background, then it may not crash (perhaps 1 in 4 for first case, 1 in 10 for second).

Using the nVidia tool - nTune, http://www.nvidia.com/object/ntune_5.05.54.00.html - to alter the performance settings and marginally overclock (!) the system appeared to fix it in Vista. But then Vista really cranked out and I've just never got round to fixing it as Kubuntu is my work OS and the only game I really play runs fine on Kubuntu.

Still would like a fix, but am accepting that I won't find one in software and will just have to wait until I can buy a new graphics card.
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by:pbhj
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Not really hit it - it genuinely seems there's a solution but it's probably at teh firmware level IMO.
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