Solved XP freezing badly, no dump possible

July 11, 2012 at 15:54:57
Specs: Windows XP SP3, Opteron 175 / 2GB DDR
Symptoms: XP SP3 regularly freezes to death (more or less randomly) without BSOD and without any possibility to create a memory dump. Even a forced mini dump is not possible. Only way to start again is with a hard reboot (switch power off and on).

I am tracking the problem for a long long time and I slowly come to the end of my ideas and patience so if anybody has some more (good) ideas or suggestions I'm open. I have read all I could during days (and nights) on Internet about possible solutions to track down and narrow the cause. Now I'm slowly considering changing the whole mainboard before I become to much tempted to throw the box out of the window...

After having some time only considered a software problem by trying to generate a forced mini dump i had to abandon this path since i could never generate any. The system simply does not allow me to do anything except a hard reboot. After that here are no traces at all except a corrupted file system left at best (corrected with chkdsk /f).

So slowly i went to the hardware side considering faulty RAMs at first and of course checking the temperature, cleaning all i could in the box, testing with memtest86 one by one in different slots, then changing the video adapter and trying other slots, exchanged the CPU by the way (just made all worse i think). With time i even could find a way to reproduce or at least provoke the freezing by for instance starting a bif file copy from one sata hdd to another (via to promise controller) and simultaneously opening and closing many browser tabs in google chrome (or even firefox). Generally I can freeze the system within 1 min like that!

At first I was very focused on the Promise FastTrak378 IDE driver (also because not so long ago I had many BSOD with the VIA raid system driver appearing) and recently I added a green WD sata HDD which was not recognized properly by the VIA chipset (apparently no way to jumper down to SATA1). But lately i could also rule this potential cause out because even with a switched off Promise controller XP froze again... Of course there could be several causes... that might be the case and could explain a part of all this mess... Anyway as long as the freezing continues even without controller there must be at least another cause. With the time my suspicions went to a faulty PSU but all the values seemed to be in the green range so far. Then I even experienced a freezing when i was in the BIOS setup... I then decided to connect another PSU I had around from an older box...

The situation became much better again BUT still when I'm doing my "stress test" I described above the freezing occures again (and not only)!

Memtest86 find once some errors when all the modules where installed (4 bars) but after that, testing them one by one and all together again gave no error (after 1-2 passes)... The DDR's are high quality ECC Corsair XMS XL PRO mudules so I don't think they are problem.

So i really ruled out all I could so far except the mobo... but i just bought some additional RAM and one of the fastest CPU's for this mainboard with the idea to save some bucks... :((

I will try to test a bit more with some linux live boot CD's by recreating my "stress test" described above... that's the last idea I have before I'll give up (kick out the mobo)...

Thanks for any input!

PS: I will post again here if I can narrow the problem or even find the cause...


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✔ Best Answer
March 8, 2013 at 16:20:09
For those interested I just wanted to post this last update about the problem I had.

I changed my motherboard (and had some big problems I could finally all solve to have my windows xp running smooth without any new installation and with my RAID 1 disk pair) and since then everything is running super stable and smooth.

So the simple conclusion is that the mainboard was responsible for all these troubles! Don't know at all what component on the mainboard but I'm happy I find the solution like that.

Hope this may help some having the same type of troubles.



#1
July 12, 2012 at 05:00:23
Opteron & ECC RAM? Are you asking about a server? Have you checked the temps? Have you load tested the system to see if you can duplicate the issue? Is the BIOS manually configured for best performance? Do you have the XP auto-restart feature disabled? (you won't get a BSOD while it's enabled). You mentioned an IDE controller, then a SATA HDD. Do you have the SATA drivers installed? XP won't recognize the SATA HDD without it, or as an alternative, you can change the SATA BIOS setting to IDE compatibility mode. It's difficult to offer any help when no detailed specs are provided.

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#2
July 12, 2012 at 15:13:42
Thanks for you answer so first about the specs:

--------[ EVEREST Home Edition (c) 2003-2005 Lavalys, Inc. ]------------------------------------------------------------

Version EVEREST v2.20.405
Homepage http://www.lavalys.com/
Report Type Report Wizard
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5.1.2600 (WinXP Retail)
Date 2012-07-12

--------[ Summary ]-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Computer:
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
OS Service Pack Service Pack 3
DirectX 4.09.00.0904 (DirectX 9.0c)

Motherboard:
CPU Type DualCore AMD Opteron, 2200 MHz (11 x 200)
Motherboard Name Asus A8V Deluxe (5 PCI, 1 AGP, 4 DDR DIMM, Audio, Gigabit LAN, IEEE-1394)
Motherboard Chipset VIA K8T800Pro, AMD Hammer
System Memory 2048 MB (PC3200 DDR SDRAM)
BIOS Type AMI (11/14/05)

Display:
Video Adapter Matrox Graphics MMS G450 (32 MB)
3D Accelerator Matrox G450

Multimedia:
Audio Adapter VIA AC'97 Enhanced Audio Controller

Storage:
IDE Controller VIA Bus Master IDE Controller - 0571
SCSI/RAID Controller AU3YBZA4 IDE Controller
SCSI/RAID Controller VIA RAID Controller - 3149
SCSI/RAID Controller Win2003 Promise SATA378 (tm) IDE Controller
Floppy Drive Floppy disk drive
Disk Drive VIA SATA RAID 1 SCSI Disk Device (149 GB)
Disk Drive WD Ext HDD 1021 USB Device (1397 GB, USB)
Disk Drive WD Ext HDD 1021 USB Device (1863 GB, USB)
Disk Drive WD Ext HDD 1021 USB Device (1863 GB, USB)
Disk Drive WDC WD20 EARX-00PASB0 SCSI Disk Device (1863 GB)
Disk Drive WD My Bo ok SCSI Disk Device (931 GB)
Optical Drive HL-DT-ST DVD-ROM GDR8164B
Optical Drive LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1H
SMART Hard Disks Status OK

Input:
Keyboard Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
Mouse Logitech-compatible Mouse PS/2

Network:
Network Adapter Marvell Yukon 88E8001/8003/8010 PCI Gigabit Ethernet Controller (192.168.0.101)

Peripherals:
USB1 Controller VIA VT83C572 PCI-USB Controller
USB2 Controller VIA USB 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.


If you feel you need any more details please let me know.

Opterons and ECC RAM are indeed rather used in servers but not only. In this case it's a XP workstation with a plain common Asus mobo. :)

1) Have you checked the temps? What do you mean exactly?
2) Have you load tested the system to see if you can duplicate the issue? A load test with prime95 for instance is running very well (no error after a couple of hours). So the issue can be triggered as I explained above but it seems not related to a stress work load.
3) Is the BIOS manually configured for best performance? Originally the BIOS was configured on auto for most the relevant settings (RAM, CPU). Lately I also tried to fix some parameters (conservative but manual) but that did not change anything at all.
4) Do you have the XP auto-restart feature disabled? (you won't get a BSOD while it's enabled). No, no restart but that is not the problem anyway because i cant' even get a manually crashed dump report (ctrl+ scroll lock twice) since when the freezing occurs there is no command left at all except turning power of.
5) Do you have the SATA drivers installed? On BIOS level the disks are recognized and at OS level also thanks to the (latest) drivers (e.g. the Promise FastTrak 378 IDE v.1.0.0.27 and VIA 3149 RAID v.5.1.7600.601). One new WDC Green WD20 EARX-00PASB0 so Sata3 2TB AF is connected to the OnBoard Promise Controller set to IDE. Other 2 disks Barracuda Sata1 are in RAID1 connected to the OnBoard VIA controller. These latest are there since i bought the whole box back in 2003.

Hope that clarifies all...

Thanks again

EDIT: I just did my latest test with an older live fedora boot CD I just had under my hand... and at least i could now entirely rule out a software problem, at least at OS level... since when I started to copy a file over (always my same "stress test", see above) and browsed a bit I had the whole system freezing again. So I'm "happy" from this point of view... now remains the question what f*** hardware piece is it??

EDIT 2: Thinking about what I could do to pinpoint some more I was wondering... do you think it it's likely that a defective PSU (seems to be the case here since the change improved a lot the stability) could damage a mainboard component?

EDIT 3: Just to make it clear... runned again a memtest86 for over 9 hours (10 passes) and absolutely 0 errors! (I know it's never 100% but hey...) Besides I reset once again all the BIOS settings on default and changed only what is necessary (booting order, IDE mode for Promise controller). I could freeze the system by browsing a bit (see original post) and copying a big file from any controller to the network, even with only one or the other disk controller active it may freeze randomly, even without copying in may freeze ramdomly, having changed the video card (ok it was also with the old PSU) and tried 3 different slots it also freezed.
I'm getting nuts!!... To me it must be the a defective mainboard but I can't be sure except by buying another one... (what I intend to do, I see no choice left) :(((


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#3
July 21, 2012 at 15:33:26
If it is freezing even in the BIOS then it is possibly a ram fault. It could also be a heat problem between the CPU and CPU heat sink. Also a possibility is the PSU is low in wattage.

You need to check the PSU for adequate watts, 400 watts is adequate, anything less ithan 300 watts is inadequate.

If your CPU has no thermal paste or it has dried up (as happened to my P4 recently) then you need to re apply a very thin layer.

The Matrox Video card is rather dodgy, it has problems with many video software.

Sata is not Win xP compatible, you need a special download from Microsoft to enable SATA hard drives.

Set your HDD configuration in BIOS to AHCI.

Other things I will follow up later.


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#4
July 21, 2012 at 18:22:25
Thanks eddiesawdust for your post.

Yes freezing during BIOS setup for sure did narrow the problem source. That is why I attached another PSU and since then the stability increased BUT still I experience the freezing which I can more or less reproduce at will. Since also the 2nd PSU is quite old I intended to buy a new 80+Gold one with 500W (actually 400W would even be better in terms of efficiency for the present hardware config) and I plan to report next week about it. Nevertheless I'm almost sure this will not (totally) solve the freezing problem.

As I reported above the CPU cooling is perfectly adequate and I even applied some new thermal paste with the latest CPU exchange. So this is not the problem for sure I believe.

With my Matrox adapter I never had particular problems so far for many years. Besides as stated above I tried 2 other video cards and the problem was exactly the same so this source can be excluded with 99.9% probability.

For the SATA compatibility there are some drivers needed but not from Microsoft, rather from VIA and Promise. The latest drivers available are properly installed and again, as I stated above, even without using them it freezes too. So I can exlude this source also.

BIOS config for the HDDs is ok like it always was and I don't think I have any AHCI option there anyway.

I plan to exchange the mainboard next week so first I will try the new PSU and then I will also change the mobo. If that does not work I will throw the box out of the window...


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#5
March 8, 2013 at 16:20:09
✔ Best Answer
For those interested I just wanted to post this last update about the problem I had.

I changed my motherboard (and had some big problems I could finally all solve to have my windows xp running smooth without any new installation and with my RAID 1 disk pair) and since then everything is running super stable and smooth.

So the simple conclusion is that the mainboard was responsible for all these troubles! Don't know at all what component on the mainboard but I'm happy I find the solution like that.

Hope this may help some having the same type of troubles.


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#6
March 8, 2013 at 23:47:49
Have you ditched the old motherboard already? Just curious if there may be some visible sign such as bulging or leaking capacitors that may have given an earlier hint of the real source of all your woes. There may not be but it is something to consider should others experience similar problems. Congratulations on finally resolving the issue and thanks for sharing the outcome. Many do not bother posting back so when a solution is found we all appreciate knowing.

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)


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#7
March 9, 2013 at 07:55:21
Richard thank you for your nice post. :)

I still have the motherboard here, don't know really what to do with it... maybe try to sell it on ebay but then actually I should sell it as faulty and it will not bring me anything worth the time posting.

Actually I bought this motherboard new myself and I treated it very well all the time so for sure it was not the result of any bad physical treatement. (I have bought several 2nd hand motherboards and some where really almost like if one had played football with them so it's apparently not obvious.) I could upload you a picture but I think apart of the dust layer the board seems totally new. I see absolutely no sign of damage. I guess if it would still be under warranty Asus would simply throw it away and exchange it against a new one since probably the time to find out the faulty component would be more worth than to make a direct exchange...


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