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Windows 2008 x86 won't show all installed memory

Posted on 2009-07-08
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I recently installed Windows 2008 Server Standard x86 on a HP xw6000 Dual Xeon workstation. The install went fine, the OS runs fine, however there is 4GB of memory installed and Windows is only showing 2.62.

When I look in the BIOS it shows 4gb...when I run SiSoft Sandra it shows 4GB (4x1GB modules)

I ran the memory test from Memtest.org, stopped it to do other tests, but am going to let it run again over night. When the test was running, it showed only about 3.2 or 3.6GB of memory (somewhere in that range)

I figured for a second that it might be a BIOS limitation that would not communicate properly with Windows, however even SiSoft said that the max memory for the board was 8GB. I updated the BIOS to the most recent version, which is still a few years old.

Lastly, I ran systeminfo from the cmd prompt and it shows the total physical memory being 2,687 MB.
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Question by:Appnet
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by:garycase
ID: 24811096
The systeminfo report is consistent with the 2.62GB you noted in the first line [2687/1024 = 2.62].

Server Standard x32 won't show all 4GB ... as I suspect you know there are a variety of system devices that must be assigned addresses before addresses can be used for RAM  [hub controller; PCI addressing; memory aperture; BIOS shadowing; video memory mapping; etc.]  ==> and all of those assignments reduce the amount of RAM that can be assigned addresses.      Typically you'll see between 3.2 and 3.5GB with 4GB installed ... but it very much depends on the system configuration.

2.62GB is lower than I'd typically expect ==> what video card (or cards) do you have installed in this system?

... also, your comment r.e. MemTest is very interesting ==> look and see exactly what it's reporting for the memory size.
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by:Appnet
ID: 24813294
I will be able to put the exact amount from MemTest in a little bit, once the updates finish installing. The video card is 256MB dedicated. It is a nVidia 6600, Just one I had extra one.

Also, i have another server that I use for my business, and then a few for clients that are running Win 2008 Server x86 and all 4gb shows up. In windows it lists 4.00GB, so x86 Win2008Svr will show all 4. The only OS i have seen NOT show it was WinXP.
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by:Appnet
ID: 24813891
Ok, here is another unique update. I reset the CMOS, just so the BIOS would have to read every bit of memory again thinking it might make a change on how Windows reads it.  It sort of worked. BIOS still says 4gb, however Windows now reads 3.37 GB. I have never seen anything like this before. I could just be a quirk of running a new OS on an older system with limited BIOS updates.

Any other suggestions?
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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 24815441
It's working fine now -- 3.37GB is in the range I'd expect, so I'd say all is well.      Note that both Vista and Server 2008 were modified in the service packs to REPORT 4.0GB on systems that have 4 GB installed ... but they only do so on systems with BIOS support for this function.    I've got several Vista systems with 4GB installed ... but only 2 of them report 4GB on the properties page.    The others report what is actually available to use.     If you look at the Task Manager Performance tab on your systems that report 4GB, you'll see the actual amount they're able to use.
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by:Appnet
ID: 24815472
This turned out to show as much memory as can be shown due to the outdated BIOS.
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by:garycase
ID: 24815590
As I noted above, you're seeing everything correctly now -- the only issue is this particular system doesn't REPORT the full 4GB on the Properties page.    NONE of your x32 based systems USE all 4GB of RAM -- they simply report it on the Properties page IF the BIOS/chipset allow that.    The Performance tab on Task Manager and System Info will show how much is really used.
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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 24817480
I would reset your memory modules.
You may have one that's not getting good contact with the 'pins' in the socket.
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by:L0n3W0lf
ID: 24818311
3.37GB  is very good for a 32bit OS, more RAM needs a 64bit OS. You can work around same of the limitation with the /PAE switch. But the best thing is to use a 64bit OS, because with a 32bit OS an application can use only 2GB RAM or 3GB with the /3GB switch.
I have completly switched to 64bit Vista and now Windows 7. The new server machines i install are all 64bit.
The rest from 3.37GB to 4GB is lost to the BIOS of controller card, the videoshadow ram, ect.
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