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Athlon XP, memory, bios problem.

Discussion in 'AMD Thunderbird' started by Bruce, Jan 18, 2004.

  1. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    I have an Athlon XP 1700 CPU with 512 mb of PC 2700 memory that ran at 1.4
    mhz just fine until today. That was what was originally installed and that's
    what all system settings in Windows XP showed.

    Then, I installed a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card and drivers today --
    and it works fine. I'm listening to music from it now. No apparent problems.
    Also, the computer still starts up fine and all programs are accessible. I'm
    able to send this e-mail.

    However, this evening, upon returning home, I was confronted with a blue
    screen of death that said there was a new CPU. There wasn't. And another
    message, upon rebooting, said a secondary IDE cable was not connected. I
    doublechecked all connections and they seemed to be okay; that message went
    away. But that didn't solve the other problem with the CPU.

    Now, according to my bios (Award) as I boot up, I have a simple Athlon CPU
    that operates at 1.1 mhz. And my memory is given simply as "200."

    I've gone into my bios, which is supposed to detect the proper CPU
    automatically but obviously is not. I don't see any settings there that
    would allow me to choose an Athlon XP.

    I have an IWill XP333-R Ver. 2.1 motherboard which has performed flawlessly.
    I have not upgraded the bios; it is the original. This is a no-name brand
    computer that is two years old and worked great until now.

    Any suggestions on what the problem could be and what I should do about it?
    Although I'm able to use my computer, it's not quite as perky as it should

    Thanks in advance.
    Bruce, Jan 18, 2004
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  2. Bruce

    Doughnut Guest

    set the fsb to 133 , it seems to be set at 100.
    Doughnut, Jan 18, 2004
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  3. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    Dr. Doughnut -- That solved my problem, and thanks very much.

    You sound like the person who could answer this additional question: I
    noticed when I booted up that my memory was reported as 266 (rather than
    333, which it is). Do I understand correctly that in order to take advantage
    of the 333 speed, I need an Athlon XP with 333 as well? Which I think is the
    2500 or 2600 models and above?

    Again, many thanks for your prompt help.
    Bruce, Jan 18, 2004
  4. Bruce

    Ben Pope Guest

    Not necessarily, you can probably set your memory at a ratio to your FSB,
    it's probably set to 100% or 1/1 at the moment, you'll need 166MHz/133MHz
    which is 5/4 or 125%.

    As to whether that will actually improve or decrease performance depends on
    many factors. Often it's best to set the FSB and RAM to run at the same
    speed (known as synchronous).

    Probably best to benchmark your system. The difficulty is choosing a
    benchmark representative of what you generally do. There will be a huge
    variation as to which combination is better (1/1 or 5/4) depending on the
    relative memory and I/O operations performed in your "typical" application.

    For example, a pure memory bandwidth benchmark program will basically use
    the CPU to do data transfers to RAM which will saturate the FSB at 133MHz,
    yet your memory may be 166MHz. A multimedia benchmark will take into
    account DMA transfers from your I/O devices such as sound card and hard
    drive, which may be able to saturate the memory bus at 166MHz.

    You need to have an understanding of the architecture to understand this,
    basically the Northbridge is the centre of all data transfers, not the CPU.
    (at least on an Athlon XP, the Athlon 64s have an onboard memory
    controller, so the architecture is a bit different). This means that for
    CPU to read memory, it must request the data which will be sent from the
    memory to the memory controller on the Northbridge, via the memory bus.
    From the Northbridge, it will be sent to the CPU vie the FSB. So both bus
    speeds are relevant, and you clearly cannot go faster then the slowest bus.
    Converting from 133MHz to 166MHz (or vice-versa) may introduce additional
    latency which will slow down the transfers... this would not be so if both
    buses were 133MHz.

    Conversely, many PCI (AGP is basically PCI) devices can do DMA transfers (a
    form of bus mastering) which means that they transfer the data from the
    device to the Northbridge (via the PCI bus) and then to memory via the
    memory bus, the CPU does not get involved in this process... this is where
    having memory running faster than the FSB is useful. Whether it outweighs
    the additional latency introduced in converting time-bases is obviously a
    complicated interaction of many factors.

    Sorry, that was a bit technical... I'm bored.

    Ben Pope, Jan 18, 2004
  5. Bruce

    Doughnut Guest

    The memory will show as 266mhz as the cpu is running at that, as Ben says
    you can run it asynchronous to keep the cpu at the correct speed and run
    your memory at spec ie 333mhz. If you just want your system to run at the
    proper cpu speed then id leave all alone but if you do want the memory upto
    spec then as we say adjust it in the bios.

    Doughnut, Jan 18, 2004
  6. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    Thank you both, Dr. Doughnut and Dr. Pope. I think I understand all this
    much better now, though you know how dangerous a little knowledge can be. It
    sounds like there's really not much point upping the memory speed to
    asynchronous mode. But it also sounds like that, if I ever upgrade my
    processor, I should get the faster Athlon XP series at 333 mhz.

    I'm tempted to upgrade the CPU, although I probably don't need to (how often
    do upgrades REALLY involve a "need to" versus just want to do it because
    it's fun and a chance to learn?) But that raises another question that maybe
    you can help answer: Isn't it quite ridiculous that, with all these
    incredibly complex, high-performance CPUs, an upgrader is reduced to
    slopping goo on them to make sure they don't burn up? I know it's absolutely
    necessary because of the heat, but all the instructions I've read in
    magazines and books for installing a new processor talk about the need to
    put that goop on there, slap on the fan/heat sink and ensure the whole
    contraption works right before going any further. Shouldn't all that be done
    at the factory?

    Anyway, thanks again to you both for your help on my problem and giving me
    Bruce, Jan 18, 2004
  7. Bruce

    Ben Pope Guest

    Wel, no. If they put the goo on in the factory it'd just fill with crap
    before you put the heatsink on (which would defeat the point). If you buy a
    retail cpu it's possible they could assemble the whole lot, but then, they
    use thermal pads rather than goop (thermal paste) anyway, whioch is much
    easier. The thermal paste is messy, but good if done correctly.

    Ben Pope, Jan 18, 2004
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