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Author Topic: Help! - serious weirdness  (Read 4179 times)
m_s
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« on: September 19, 2005, 05:06:21 PM »

Suddenly this evening my computer has started doing something very strange.  While working in Word, my girlfriend highlighted a large block of text, moving the mouse down to expand the selection; at a certain point, the machine blinks off - powers down.  It's repeatable: I've done it three times to try to see what was happening, but I can't figure it out...  I had a similar problem with Picasa, which actually made me stop using it, though I like the program a lot: as it scanned through my images as it started up, the computer would suddenly shut down.  In 25 years of working with computers, I've never seen anything like this before... 

I run a 2.66gHz HP Pavilion ZD7010 laptop, with 768meg ram.  I have various programs running in the background, including: NOD32, Outpost Pro, RegDefend, TrojanHunter, WindowBlinds, ObjectDock, WindowFX, TopDesk, Google Desktop, AdMuncher, The Bat!, CalendarScope, WinPatrol, ProcessTamer, Konfabulator, MS Antispyware.

Has anyone ever seen something like this?  Do any of the programs listed above suggest areas for me to investigate?

Thanks for any help...
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jpfx
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 06:13:06 PM »

Sounds like a corrupt file, maybe cross-linked with something that can bring the system down. Outside of Word, copy the file to another location, don't move it because that will only update the links. Delete all temp files, scan for errors and reboot. If the the file still causes the problem then dump the file or fix it using some sort of disk doctor.
I've also seen memory faults cause this sort of behaviour to the point where doing the same thing causes the error. Worst case scenario is hdd or memory, but it's probably the file that is bad.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2005, 07:02:14 PM »

I have come across this sort of behaviour before and found it was video driver issues. It could be something has corrupted so try installing the latest video and sound drivers for a start.
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Veign
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2005, 07:46:47 PM »

Strangly enough it could be Print drivers also.  Most things that occur in Word happen in conjunction with the print drivers.  I had a client who had an issue with Word and it was escalated within MS and found to be a printer driver issue - very weird and seemingless no connected to the problem...

Wish I could find the document I had where MS talks about Words heavy connection to the print drivers when working with a document.
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2005, 08:52:42 PM »

i'd put video drivers and memory problems at top of the list of potential culprits.
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m_s
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 03:21:57 AM »

I think video drivers too, though I wondered whether any of the software I'm running might be doing something strange with the graphics card?  It's an nVidia GeForce FX Go5600 card, with 64mb graphics memory.  Since posting, I have downloaded and installed the recommended video drivers from the HP site - I think I was using newer versions previously - and it did the same thing again.  It also did the same thing in another document, JPFX - I was suspicious of the one it started with, because that was created on somebody else's computer, but the second one it happened on was clean, created on this machine.  I'll download one of those memory tester programs to see if there's anything up with the memory, and I'll look at printer drivers too, because I agree that Word and printers have a complicated relationship!  And I'm just now going to Microsoft Update to see if it offers anything regarding the graphics drivers, since I've effectively rolled those back...   Sad
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m_s
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 04:38:00 AM »

Okay, I'm onto something here... I've taken out the 512mb memory stick that I bought a few months back (on eBay, dammit, so probably no chance of a refund), and replaced it with the original HP 256mb stick, and the problem doesn't happen.  What I realised was that it was managing to select about 4 screens worth of text before switching off - so I tested it with a PDF document, and lo! it did the same thing.  I'm just downloading Picasa again to try that and see if it works...  Can anyone advise me on how to test the memory for physical or other errors, or is there a chance I can just wipe it down, put it back and it'll work properly? (Naive about memory, it seems.)
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m_s
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2005, 05:03:32 AM »

Picasa works fine with the old memory restored!  So, looks like a memory problem - can anyone advise how to test the memory?  Have written to Kingston - hope they'll reply soon.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2005, 05:05:28 AM »

I'm not sure about testing memory 'in the hand' so to speak - just be careful you don't kill it by letting static electricity affect it!

There are loads of good soak test memory routines that you can run when the chip is installed.

Here is one http://hcidesign.com/memtest/ and another http://www.memtest86.com/

I haven't used one for ages so I'm not sure which testing software is best these days, but memtest86 runs from a bootable CD or floppy which means you can test memory without loading windows (or linux) and so you can test more of the installed memory.

There are a lot of links at http://www.google.com/sea...UTF-8&q=memory%20test

I have had a similar problem with my system which I have never been able to sort out. I bought 2 x 512Mb DDR memory when I built the system, and everything seems to work fine but then I start getting odd errors (random reboots, blue screens). I have soak tested the memory for days - even had it replaced under guarantee by the manufacturer - but I still can't my system to run 100% consistently with 2 cards installed. I suspect it is a timing issue. In then end I gave up and just use one card!

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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2005, 09:02:49 AM »

memory stick issues are notoriously unpredictable and irrational.

i put together a machine once and i had to remove and reseat the memory like 10 times before the machine would start, but after that it was the most stable computer i ever used.  go figure.

what you could do is simply try reseating the memory sticks in different slots, and see if you can get it to work well.
you could also try checking the bios and making sure you don't have the speed settings too agressive, but i'm afraid that such settings are beyond me and i have no idea how to figure out what these should be set at.
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m_s
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2005, 09:23:12 AM »

I have now run the MS Memory Tester and Memtest and Memtest86 (as Carol suggested), and it's finding no problems at all.  I switched the memory sticks over, but the problem persists - I'll follow your lead and take both out next, Mouser, and then replace.  When I ran Everest, I noticed that there seems to be a difference between the modules, as you'll see below (sorry for including this in the post, since it's pretty long and bulky).  This info means little to me - but does anything leap out at a more savvy reader?


   [ DIMM1: Micron Tech. 8VDDT3264HDG-335C3 ]

    Memory Module Properties:
      Module Name                                       Micron Tech. 8VDDT3264HDG-335C3
      Serial Number                                     111DB16Eh
      Manufacture Date                                  Week 41 / 2003
      Module Size                                       256 MB (2 rows, 4 banks)
      Module Type                                       Unbuffered
      Memory Type                                       DDR SDRAM
      Memory Speed                                      PC2700 (166 MHz)
      Module Width                                      64 bit
      Module Voltage                                    SSTL 2.5
      Error Detection Method                            None
      Refresh Rate                                      Reduced (7.8 us), Self-Refresh

    Memory Timings:
      @ 166 MHz                                         2.5-3-3-7  (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
      @ 133 MHz                                         2.0-3-3-6  (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)

    Memory Module Features:
      Early RAS# Precharge                              Supported
      Auto-Precharge                                    Not Supported
      Precharge All                                     Not Supported
      Write1/Read Burst                                 Not Supported
      Buffered Address/Control Inputs                   Not Supported
      Registered Address/Control Inputs                 Not Supported
      On-Card PLL (Clock)                               Not Supported
      Buffered DQMB Inputs                              Not Supported
      Registered DQMB Inputs                            Not Supported
      Differential Clock Input                          Supported
      Redundant Row Address                             Not Supported

    Memory Module Manufacturer:
      Company Name                                      Micron Technology, Inc.
      Product Information                               http://www.micron.com/pro...s/category.jsp?path=/DRAM

  [ DIMM3: Kingston K ]

    Memory Module Properties:
      Module Name                                       Kingston K
      Serial Number                                     18FFFFFFh
      Manufacture Date                                  Week 29 / 2004
      Module Size                                       512 MB (2 rows, 4 banks)
      Module Type                                       Unbuffered
      Memory Type                                       DDR SDRAM
      Memory Speed                                      PC2700 (166 MHz)
      Module Width                                      64 bit
      Module Voltage                                    SSTL 2.5
      Error Detection Method                            None
      Refresh Rate                                      Reduced (7.8 us), Self-Refresh

    Memory Timings:
      @ 166 MHz                                         2.5-3-3-7  (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
      @ 133 MHz                                         2.0-3-3-6  (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)

    Memory Module Features:
      Early RAS# Precharge                              Not Supported
      Auto-Precharge                                    Not Supported
      Precharge All                                     Not Supported
      Write1/Read Burst                                 Not Supported
      Buffered Address/Control Inputs                   Not Supported
      Registered Address/Control Inputs                 Not Supported
      On-Card PLL (Clock)                               Not Supported
      Buffered DQMB Inputs                              Not Supported
      Registered DQMB Inputs                            Not Supported
      Differential Clock Input                          Supported
      Redundant Row Address                             Not Supported

    Memory Module Manufacturer:
      Company Name                                      Kingston Technology Company, Inc.
      Product Information                               http://www.kingston.com/products/default.asp

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2005, 09:40:58 AM »

How long have you had the two memory cards?

There were documented issues with MSI boards in the early days of DDR memory (sorry I am out of touch more recently) where mixing boards from different manufacturers were known to cause this sort of problem. The official solution was to purchase two cards at the same time and specify to the supplier that you want a matched pair. I'm not sure how this affected other motherboard board manufacturers but as rule it has been suggested that if you want more than one memory card that you have same size, same make, same chipset (some manufacturers vary from batch to batch), and preferably same batch.

I also notice that the cards are of different sizes (256Mb and 512Mb) - again this may well point to the problem area. Definitely try placing the 512Mb in slot 1. The two boards will have different power demands.

The other thing to note is that the two manufacturers support different modes of operation Look at "Early RAS# Precharge" for both cards in your Everest listing. If you look in your BIOS memory setting during startup (usually press DEL at the first screen when the system is switched on) you should find a setting for this. Make sure it is set to off.

As a first step I would suggest unplugging both cards and then inserting them one at a time - test your system and see if you encounter problems.

If the systems runs stable with each card in place on its own try again with both plugged in. If you then encounter problems it is more than likely caused by incompatibilities between the RAM cards.

As Mouser suggested it is probably worth trying the cards in different positions.

Try using slots 1 and 2 only, and swap the board order (Mircon card in 1st position, then try again with Kingston in position 1). Sometimes you can get odd clock effects that can generate instability.

If all else fails I'd suggest pulling out one card - just leave the Kingston Card.

Are you doing anything that desperately needs more than 512Mb? If not you probably won't see any speed improvement adding an extra 256Mb anyway. If you are doing memory intensive processing (large photos in PhotoShop or Video file processing) you probably need to consider more memory anyway.

If you can't get the current chipsets working happily together and want more memory try giving Kingston a ring and buying a second card direct from them. They may well have an upgrade solution. IIRC their boards carry a lifetime warranty, so if you need to add extra boards they may well be prepared to do a swap to ensure that you have matched boards.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2005, 09:47:31 AM by CarolHaynes » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2005, 09:17:27 PM »

i wouldn't trust the memory checks to find problems.
like i said my experience with memory chips is that they are one of life's mysteries.
i would try moving them around, and if problems persist, take one stick out and run for some weeks without it in an effort to see if that was the cause.
it could be the motherboard's handling of the memory stick or the stick itself, so it's not nesc. that the memory stick is bad, could just be your motherboard has issues with it (or with any stick in that slot, etc).
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m_s
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2005, 02:39:56 PM »

Where this has got to now: it seems that the memory stick I bought (Kingston part KTH-ZD7000/512) is not actually the correct one for my machine (HP Pavilion ZD7010EA laptop, for which the correct part is Kingston's KTC-P2800/512).  That might be the cause of the problem, or it might be due to a fault with the memory stick.  The guy who sold it to me on eBay listed it as compatible with my machine (and the part number would suggest compatibility), but I expect I've no recourse there after several months passing.  Anyway, the good people over at Kingston have agreed to swap the stick for a new one under their lifetime guarantee - but they will only swap for the same part.  Anyone need a new KTC-P2800/512 and willing to consider buying me a KTH-ZD7000/512 in exchange?  Here's a link to the Kingston page in case you want to know more about the module: http://www.ec.kingston.co...p?ktcpartno=KTC-P2800/512   I'm not expecting anyone to agree to this, but if you are interested, please p.m. me.  Thanks.
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