High CPU usage. No apparent cause! *rage*

August 28, 2010 at 14:16:11
Specs: Windows XP
450 Watt PSU
2.0 Ghz AMD 3200+
Gigabyte K8N Mobo
512mb Corsair RAM x2
HIS Radeon 4670 AGP
XP Home SP3
Western Digital 200gb x2

Yesterday I woke up to find my computer was off, due to a power outage. CPU usage is now idling at around 30-50%. I checked the process tab in task manager to find that nothing was using my CPU, and that System Idle Process was at 99. This should mean nothing is using it, yet the high CPU usage remains.

Prior to this my computer would often idle at 2-4%, only reaching about 50-60% when running Call of Duty 4, and 80% when running Starcraft 2. I noticed in both games with the graphics on low that I was getting around 30 fps, whereas I normally get around a steady 60 with medium settings. Interestingly enough, my ping to nearby servers was up 20-30 ms which has never happened before. Ping increase was also present at speedtest.net

Scanned using Avira and Spybot, found nothing. Uninstalled Avira, checked with AVG, still nothing.

Checked MSConfig, most of startup is always unchecked, in services there wasn't anything new.

I run my OS partition very lean, so reformatting was a quick answer to try. Surprisingly it remained at a consistent medium usage despite the fresh install.

I've tried googling various terms and have come across many with CPU usage problems, but my situation hasn't been answered by anything I've found.

So I turn to minds more experienced than my own:

Is there a program I can use to break down CPU cycles more completely?
Is there a way to test if the power outage has partially damaged the CPU, without another computer to test it in?
Are there other plausible explanations for this behavior I'm unaware of?

Screenshots of my task manager processes and performance tab can be found here:



See More: High CPU usage. No apparent cause! *rage*

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August 28, 2010 at 16:09:54
It appears that something other than a process, such as hardware interrupts, is using a lot of CPU time.
Process Explorer will show this:

This could be caused by a bad driver or failing hardware device. Try removing all non-essential external devices and then expansion cards.

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August 28, 2010 at 21:52:58
"Yesterday I woke up to find my computer was off, due to a power outage."

WHY do you leave the computer running while you're sleeping ?

"I run my OS partition very lean, so reformatting was a quick answer to try. Surprisingly it remained at a consistent medium usage despite the fresh install."

Did you load the main chipset drivers for the mboard ? If you didn't, your system will probably NOT perform like it should.

XP doesn't have the drivers built in for most things that first came out after XP was first released, circa 2001, and it doesn't have some of the drivers built in for things made before that.

Whenever you load Windows from a regular Windows CD (or DVD) from scratch, after Setup is finished you must load the drivers for the mboard, particularly the main chipset drivers, in order for Windows to have the proper drivers for and information about your mboard hardware, including it's AGP or PCI-E, ACPI, USB 2.0 if it has it, and hard drive controller support. If you have a generic system and have the CD that came with the mboard, all the necessary drivers are on it. If you load drivers from the web, brand name system builders and mboard makers often DO NOT have the main chipset drivers listed in the downloads for your model - in that case you must go to the maker of the main chipset's web site, get the drivers, and load them.

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August 29, 2010 at 14:24:46
LMAO @ Tubesandwires. Yes dude, I know how to install drivers. I can leave my computer on when I sleep if I want to, deal with it.

@LMiller7 You are correct, but I actually found the answer from my own research before seeing your post. Thanks a lot even though I found this another way.

To the people in the future that come across this problem I have a somewhat detailed solution:

I decided to reveal how given how many high CPU usage threads there are with people claiming System Idle Process was at 99%. Turned out to be a problem with hardware interrupts, which is either related to a driver you're using, or an actual hardware failure. Found it by using a program called Process Explorer to further inspect my processes. Used a program called RATT to actually see what was requesting so many CPU cycles. I checked the log RATT created for a column labeled IRS, which showed one file requesting a staggeringly higher amount of CPU cycles. In particular hdaud.sys had to be disabled. Set the driver to disabled in Device Manager
and the problem no longer persists. If it continues to persist after being disabled, then it is likely a hardware problem and need to reseat components and check their integrity through tools available from their manufacturer.

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August 29, 2010 at 20:29:33
Depending on what caused the power failure event and what that event did, if you hadn't had your computer running while you were asleep, you may never have had the problem you were having if the computer was not running at the time.

People often don't know they're supposed to install the mboard drivers after installing the operating system from scratch - that's why I mentioned it.

Your info is useful to someone else with a similar problem, but.....

- if you re-installed Windows and all the drivers from scratch, rather than just running a Repair install of Windows, which doesn't always fix problems, your problem probably isn't caused by hdaud.sys itself, which wouldn't be corrupted (unless your hard drive has been damaged by the power failure event) - it's probably caused by damage done to the audio hardware/circuits by the power failure event, whether that's on the mboard or on a card in a slot.

There is probably nothing you can do about whatever damage was done to the motherboard, e.g. if you are using onboard audio, other than possibly disabling things that don't work properly.

Run diagnostics on your hard drive.
E.g. Seagate's Seatools will test any brand of hard drive.

Power failure events often damage the power supply.
Check the current readings for +12v, +5v, and +3.3v in the bios to see whether they're within 10% of their nominal values - if any of those aren't , replace the PS.

By the way, the minimum recommended PS capacity for a system with a Radeon 4670 video chipset is 400 watts, and, more important, that puts out a minimum 26A @ +12v, or more - if the PS has more than one +12v output, add them.

If you're a gamer...
In most if not all cases, the max capacity rating of the PS is an intermittent rating. It's recommended that you do not load your PS to any more that 80% of that rating if you are going to be using something that puts a constant load on it, such as playing a recent game for hours on end. In that case, you multiply the min capacity stated for the system with the particular video chipset on the card by 1.25 to find the min. capacity of the PS you should get.

In this case, 400 x 1.25 = a minimum 500 watt PS.

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