Strange Desktop issue resolved….



Well, it’s annoying to me when my own computer has issues that I can’t seem to track down and off and on for the last year I’ve had annoying seemingly random shut downs (I mean it’s as if someone pulled the power plug). It was an AMD XP 1800 system. The first I noticed the problem, I was trying to transcode video. A few minutes into the process – bang power off and it would be followed by a painfull 30 seconds of the system trying to post, shutting down, restarting, off, start, off, start with the floppy drive getting a seek every second or two as it seemed to try to muster the power to boot. For this reason, my first suspect was the power supply, 4 drives, hefty processor, hefty video card, (sound card, network, tv card, etc.etc.etc) maybe my generic 300 watt wasn’t steady enough?


I wound up going through probably 3 or 4 power supplies over a period of 6 months, at times it would seem as though the problem was gone, but then when I least expected it – bang, there it went again. Now, it wasn’t just chasing this problem that I went through several power supplies, but I also was combating noise (acoustic and rf interference) – more on that in a future post. I kept an eye on sensors output to see the system temperature – it never really seemed that the cpu was too hot. The voltages all looked within reasonable ranges, even if I went back to the logs, there were never any memory dumps, or signs that linux had crashed, but I went through numerous kernels and tests to try and decide the ultimate question hardware or software….

I finally came to the conclusion it was hardware and likely either cpu or system board (my money was on the cpu, but I wasn’t 100% certain.) Of course, at various times I suspected other cards (at some point I pulled everything but the video card to test…)

Finally, recent months had found compiling software to be a hit or miss proposition, sometimes it would work, sometimes it would trigger the dreaded crash. However, one day last week was the final straw. 4 times in one morning, it seemed that kontact’s spam filtering was just too much of a burden. I once again took vital signs and although the cpu temperature wasn’t technically outside of the amd cpu operating range, it was in the higher half of the range.

I got online and read other peoples experience, was 65 degrees celsius too hot? Yes it was hotter than some other AMD systems I’d seem, but it seemed that “all it’s life” it had been in the same range, so it was normal for this chip… Well – the concensus was – it’s not outside of the normal range, but you’ll shorten it’s life running at that temp….. What’s strange to me is the cooling fan had seemed to be working just fine. In retrospect of course, now that I’ve got a new system that’s running between 35-40 degrees celsius – I’m thinking – “is 65 degrees too hot – you think?”….

But, I finally had enough and got an AMD 64 3000+ based system (sata raid capable) with 1 GB of memory and a nice shiny new NVIDIA card…. I’ve kept the hard drive, tv card, sound and dvd writer from the old system, but things are noticably snappier and VERY stable. I’m always impressed with how well linux on a hard drive copes with being moved from one system to another. (Especially since I’ve seen how poorly Windows seems to do under those circumstances.)

It is kind of funny though, if it had been someone elses system, I’d have managed to get things swapped long ago, because I wouldn’t tolerated that kind of performance for them. But for my own system, I’d tolerate such an annoying problem for so long. It seems I had it solved a long time ago and just tolerated the problem until it got to be too annoying. Anyway, this week has also been occupied with putting this new processing power through it’s paces, checking if I can notice any framerate increases with the new NVidia card…. compiling software that I’d postponed trying out…. etc. etc. etc.

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One Response to “Strange Desktop issue resolved….”

  1. Another attempt at different hardware problems-- Avery J. Parker - Web site hosting and computer service Says:


    [...] I mentioned some time ago a frustrating issue with the hardware on my desktop that I had finally solved. I got the new system Which was a 64-bit AMD Athlon on an Asus k8N4-E board and a pci-express nvidia based card (6200 TurboCache), 1 GB of memory… Things worked very nice for a while, rock solid stable and no issues. But the one day, I noticed…. “where did my tvcard go”. There were 2 pci slots, one I had used for a tvcard, the other for an addon sound card. [...]


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