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Asus A6T laptop with Windows XP BSoDs with 0x0A (IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL) on boot, error persists after RAM replacement

I have received an Asus A6T laptop for repair, that always crashes on boot with STOP 0x0A IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. The crash happens even in safe mode. Memtest86+ doesn't show any RAM errors, and swapping out the memory module doesn't in general fix the error, but putting in one specific memory module allows the system to boot properly (all other modules I have tried produce STOP 0x0A). The machine had some malware infections that I cleaned up (using the working memory module to allow the system to boot), and installed a few driver updates, but the error still persists.

The system is an AMD Turion (memory controller in the CPU).

Any idea what could be causing this? I'm sure it is a hardware problem, as replacing the RAM affects it.
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NetRolller3D
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NetRolller3D
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1 Solution
 
wfcraven12Commented:
# Turn off all the following features in the CMOS settings of your computer. For instructions, see the hardware documentation or contact the manufacturer.

    * All caching, including L2, BIOS, internal/external, and writeback caching on disk controllers
    * All shadowing
    * Plug and Play
    * Any BIOS-based virus protection feature

# Try to reinstall Windows XP.

    * If this resolves the Stop error message, go to step c.
    * If this does not resolve the Stop error message, go to method 3.

# Try to isolate which feature is causing the error. To do this, re-enable each of these features one at a time, and then restart your computer after you re-enable each feature.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
The Asus A6T has an extremely limited BIOS that only allows configuring the system clock & the boot order. No caching, shadowing or anything you listed is available.

While it is possible (though extremely unlikely) that a reinstall would fix the problem, it is clearly a hardware error (as installing the Samsung RAM module from my own laptop into it makes the error disappear - but no other RAM works; also Linux live CDs show mysterious boot failures which also go away with my RAM installed), so a reinstall will only hide it temporarily.

Both the original RAM and my working one are in the form of a single 1GB stick. All the memory modules tested (including the original one from the bad laptop) seem to work in my laptop (an Acer Aspire 5720G).
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wfcraven12Commented:
Looks like the A6T is a bit of a lemon.

http://vip.asus.com/forum/view.aspx?board_id=3&model=A6T&id=20081111135836531&page=1&SLanguage=en-us


Not really sure what else to suggest.  This could end up being something that costs more to repair (mainly due to time spent) than to replace.
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PCBONEZCommented:
It would help to understand what the error means:
IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
- Indicates that a process or driver attempted to access a memory address to which it did not have permission to access.
In English: "Something" is trying to use RAM that is reserved for something else.
It might be caused by a poorly written or corrupted device driver, a corrupted system service program, a hyperactive virus scanner, or by a virus doing it's dirty work. Corrupted files may have become corrupted due virus activity or a drive developing bad sectors.

I would:
Run chkdsk on the drive.
Try a repair install to fix corrupted files.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
That doesn't explain why changing the memory modules affect the error.

BTW after applying a few more updates for Windows using the only working RAM module, the error has changed to PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA. The address of the instruction pointing to invalid memory (parameter 4) is still the same 0x8050F0C5. Parameter 1 (the invalid address itself) is completely random. If I put in a third memory module, the address in parameter 4 changes (and some modules continue to display IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, others now say PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA.) The address stas constant for each memory module I tried, but switching memory modules makes it change.

As I said in the first post, I have one specific memory module that allows the system to boot properly; even another module from the same batch fails. I'm starting to suspect that the module is not receiving enough voltage.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
That doesn't explain why changing the memory modules affect the error.

BTW after applying a few more updates for Windows using the only working RAM module, the error has changed to PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA. The address of the instruction pointing to invalid memory (parameter 4) is still the same 0x8050F0C5. Parameter 1 (the invalid address itself) is completely random. If I put in a third memory module, the address in parameter 4 changes (and some modules continue to display IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, others now say PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA.) The address stas constant for each memory module I tried, but switching memory modules makes it change.

As I said in the first post, I have one specific memory module that allows the system to boot properly; even another module from the same batch fails. I'm starting to suspect that the module is not receiving enough voltage...
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PCBONEZCommented:
If it's throwing both of those errors you have a RAM access problem.
- Bad RAM
- Damaged/dirty RAM slot
- Damaged Memory Controller [In the Chipset]
- Bad power to the RAM and/or Chipset.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
It is not bad RAM, as the error occurs with all but 1 of my RAM sticks, all of which work perfectly in my Acer 5720G. If I put in the working RAM stick AND one of the other sticks, it only boots if the working module is in the first slot - but in that case, it seems to work; ruling out a RAM slot problem.

On Turion platforms, the memory controller is in the CPU - however, the fact that one of my Samsung modules works, while the other one (from the same batch) fails with IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL makes a memory controller error unlikely.

So, what is left is the voltage regulator (or maybe the clockgen); both mean a new motherboard.

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PCBONEZCommented:
I think maybe. - Motherboard. - Couple other things to try follow.
[Sorry for my error about chipset, I've been doing all Intel for a few years.]

If the power or signals -to- a RAM slot have issues then RAM placed in the slot will have problems.

Different modules [even out of the same batch of production] will vary as to their stability and their 'resistance' to non-ideal conditions.

RAM testing bad [or not working] in one machine but that tests good in another is a classic example of a bad RAM slot. - Not the physical connection necessarily, but the integrity of the 'electricals'. [Power and signal -to- the slot.]
In desktop boards the usual villain is bad electrolytic capacitors causing excess 'noise' [like EMI but lower frequency] in the power to the RAM, but laptop boards rarely use electrolytic caps.

If you haven't,, I think you should try re-seating the CPU before you write-off the board.
Perhaps a bad connection in the socket is weakening the [some] signals strength so the RAM is having trouble 'reading it',,, as it were.

There is a slight chance the AC adapter is letting excess noise through. Laptops count on the adapter cleaning up the power pretty well before it ever gets sent to the laptop. If that isn't happening the laptop may not have enough noise filter circuits to compensate and clean things up itself.
.
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Anyone3003Commented:
well i have a couple of questions
what's the cpu temp? version of windows are u running sp2 ,sp3?bios version?
plus are u plugging any usb devices ? remove any usb or attached devices to the laptop and try again
plus run msconfig and disable ALL startup items then try again\
the problem is some driver or device conflicting causeing this
plus if u have sp2 upgrade to  sp3 cuz i found many sp2 users have this problem
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
anyone3003: Have you actually read the thread? The crash happens even in safe mode, regardless of system version. The only thing that affects it is the installed RAM. It has already been determined to be a hardware problem.

BTW it seems to be impossible to install SP3 on this machine (installer hangs at "Performing cleanup", then rolls back), but that is a different problem altogether.
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Anyone3003Commented:
same IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error happened to other sp2 users which solved it by moving to sp3
i was just trying to help updated system is always better in handling problems!
plus this error means
Technically, this error condition means that a kernel-mode process or driver tried to access a memory location to which it did not have permission, or at a kernel Interrupt ReQuest Level (IRQL) that was too high. (A kernel-mode process can access only other processes that have an IRQL lower than, or equal to, its own.)

do u know what a irq means?

When a peripheral wants to access a resource, it sends an interrupt request to the processor in order to get its attention. The peripherals have an interrupt number that is called an IRQ (Interruption ReQuest. It is as if each peripheral pulls a "string" that is attached to a bell in order to tell the computer that it wants the computer to pay attention to it.

if two peripherals use the same interrupt, the system will not know how to distinguish between them. A hardware conflict does not only occur when two peripherals have the same hardware. A conflict can also occur when two peripherals have the same I/O address or use the same DMA channels

The DMA channel indicates an access to one of the computer's random access memory (RAM) slots, located by a "RAM Start Address" and an "end address". This method allows a peripheral to borrow special channels that give it direct access to the memory, without the intervention of the microprocessor, in order to unload these tasks.

anyway asus motehrboards is known for memory issues they are usually fixed by running ram in single channel mode and trying diffrent bios versions until the system is stable and unplug any attached devices to this laptop
if nothing works  just try reinstalling windows
if not then that's a serious mb problem
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PCBONEZCommented:
Thanks for repeating what I said 3 days ago, albeit in greater detail.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
Well, there is already only one RAM module in the machine, so single vs. dual-channel mode is out of question. Also, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL is not the only error I amm seeing - PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA has also been seen (specifically, the module that originally came with this machine produces PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA). Plus, the memory location that the process has no permission to access (parameter 1 of the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error screen) seems to be completely random nonsense, and changes on each boot. The laptop is already running with no peripherals attached - still the same error. However, there is one specific RAM module which if installed, the system works fine! Another module from the same batch produces IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL (not DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL - that is, the crash is coming from the kernel itself, not a driver), with complete junk as the inaccessible address (varies randomly on each boot). I'm pretty sure there is no way for one memory module to cause a hardware conflict, with another one from the same batch working fine.
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PCBONEZCommented:
>> seems to be completely random nonsense, and changes on each boot. <<
YES - Probably Power or Power Quality issues to the RAM slot or Chipset.

Have you tried a different AC adapter yet?
Have you tried a different battery?
[Laptop batteries aren't just batteries, they have active circuits inside that can go bad.]
Have you tried on AC only and on Battery only?
.


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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
Yes, I forgot to include that - the error happens both on battery and on AC power, even if I use a different AC adapter. The same AC adapter happily drives all other compatible laptops I tried.
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PCBONEZCommented:
If you put xxx amount of excessive noise in the power to a RAM slot and take 10 identical RAM chips it's entirely likely some will work fine and others won't.
That's just normal manufacturing deviation and tolerances in play.
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PCBONEZCommented:
Okay then.
I think the problem -MAY BE- a power quality issue on the motherboard itself.
Your RAM can't 'talk to' your chipset.
If you don't do component level repair that would be called "bad motherboard".

The thing to do to confirm that [or disprove] is to use a non-Windows Operating System.
Ubuntu and Knoppix a few other Linux OS's have Live CD's which will run from CD without installing to the hard drive at all. They won't bother your Windows files at all [unless YOU do while you are in there.]
-
Try one and see if the RAM issues clear up.
.
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NetRolller3DAuthor Commented:
I've actually tried that, and reported the results a few comments ago: live CDs usually boot, but seem to lock up erratically & show general instability. Some seem to work fine, others don't even load - I guess it's probably dependent on the kernel used (e.g. optimization flags). BSD-based live CDs don't boot at all.
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PCBONEZCommented:
Okay. - The only off-the-wall thing I can think of is random debris or some residue in the RAM slot.
Other than that slight possibility, I think it's down to a bad motherboard.

RAM tested good in another machine and you have random RAM errors and/or instability no matter what the OS is.
.
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