Dell Workstation 420 memory upgrade problem

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Mr Ter, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Mr Ter

    Mr Ter Guest

    I'm trying to upgrade memory on my Dell Precision Workstation 420 from
    current 512 MB to 1GB. The current memory is 600MHz Non-ECC RDRAM.
    Unfortunately they don't make it anymore and the only memory I can get is
    800MHz. Dell and manuals tell me that it should work but when I inserted
    two 256 MB 800MHz sticks into the PC it does not boot. The problem may be
    that the memory sticks are faulty since they were second hand or my BIOS
    was too old. So before I take it any further I wonder if someone with the
    same PC could confirm that 800 MHz memory would work in it.

    Thanks - Tom
    Mr Ter, Nov 12, 2003
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  2. according to dell's documentation the precision 420 has four (dual channel)
    rambus slots that accept 64/128/256/512mb 800mhz ecc memory. you must have
    terminators in the unused slots. if you currently have 600mhz non-ecc
    working in the system then this obviously is inconsistent with the
    documentation. if the memory that you purchase is non-ecc then having it
    not work is consistent with the documentation... now, having said that, the
    machine is built on an 840 chipset that is capable of working with either
    ecc or non-ecc (seems unlikely that dell would actually go out of their way
    to pigeon this functionality). looking at the note on the many bios updates
    it appears that enhancements to memory support was added with version a07...
    the current version is a13. i suggest you try a bios update with the
    working memory installed (of course) and then try the new memory once that
    has proven to be successful. let us know how it works out.
    Christopher Muto, Nov 13, 2003
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  3. Mr Ter

    Kernelpanic Guest

    I agree. My company actually has several 420 and we had to upgrade the bios
    inorder to add/use the 512MB memory chips.

    Kernelpanic, Nov 13, 2003
  4. Mr Ter

    Mr Ter Guest

    Mr Ter, Nov 15, 2003
  5. or that the system simply does not work with non-ecc as dell said in their
    documentation... you did mention that you purchased non-ecc, right?

    Christopher Muto, Nov 15, 2003
  6. Mr Ter

    Mr Ter Guest

    Well, the original memory that came with the PC is non-ecc and it works.

    Mr Ter, Nov 16, 2003
  7. perhaps not worth the effort since it sounds like you have resolved the
    issue... but i wonder these things: did you try this new memory with the
    old memory installed or just the new memory installed? are both of the new
    modules identical? does the bios report that the original memory was non-ecc
    or are they labeled non-ecc? i completely understand if you don't want to
    investigate any further and don't post back.

    Christopher Muto, Nov 17, 2003
  8. Mr Ter

    Mr Ter Guest

    Well I tried the following options:

    new memory on its own - result PC does not boot
    old memory + new mwmory - result PC does not boot
    old memory + one stick of new momory (silver stick) - result PC boots but
    memory is still 512 MB. Tried the same with the other stick (black) -
    result PC does not boot.
    old memory + memory from another 420 (excatly the same as mine) - result PC

    The only conclution that I can draw is that either the black memory stick
    has been damaged or that memory (black stick) is totaly incompatable with
    my PC. There is offcourse another option i.e I'm missing something here
    that's why I've posted in this group to see if anybody could comment on
    this problem.

    Mr Ter, Nov 17, 2003
  9. are you saying that the two new sticks do not look identical to one another?
    well then that is the problem!
    this machine has four memory sockets. these are dual channel sockets that
    require that memory be installed in like pairs (meaning two identical sticks
    at a time). since your machine has four sockets it can handle either one
    identical pair and one set of terminator cards (no chips) in the unpopulated
    slots, or, two sets of identical pairs. the two pairs can be of different
    capacity, but each stick in a particular pair has to match the other (or it
    wouldn't be a pair). hope that is clear.

    Christopher Muto, Nov 20, 2003
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