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System BIOS, and the permutation game

Last post 08-17-2008, 14:27 by icelava. 1 replies.
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  •  06-11-2007, 11:15 1501

    System BIOS, and the permutation game

    One of the activities I thoroughly enjoyed when studying computation mathematics in university was to explicitly penning down all possible combinations of values given a certain bit array length. Formulas are for wussies.

    Ok, I lied. But heck, that sure is more enjoyable of the chore of figuring which combination of BIOS settings work in a stable manner. And I am not talking about overclocking yet.

    So the ASUS M2NPV-VM that serves as the motherboard for my latest acquisition simply refused to be energy conscious and ran around like a rampant cheetah - enabling AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet mode meant Windows Vista's Restart command would eventually freeze the machine in its tracks. This posed a problem since I frequently remote back to these home computers and should a need to restart this system arise, I'd be hard pressed to learn the kage bunshin no jutsu so one clone can constantly remain at home acting as NOC staff.

    Initially I thought the Unknown Device of "ACPI\PNPB02F" in my computer's listing had some contribution to this odd behaviour; since it did sport the ACPI moniker. But Windows MVP Jane Colman informed that ID likely refers to the gameport, which accurately enough is unsupported by Windows Vista and won't have drivers for a long time to come. So what am I going to do?

    Well I did disable the gameport in BIOS but the restart-freeze still persisted. Eventually, I responded to that haunting voice in my head to enable the AMD Live! option, sitting just next to the Cool 'n' Quiet entry in the BIOS' CPU configuration page. Live!!!! Surely I did not buy this machine enjoy the talents of Amy Grant or Ray Benson; do I really need to enable it? On system start up, the following new device got detected

    Intel(r) Quick Resume Technology (sic)

    I tilted over to check the sticker on the casing was indeed "AMD 64 Athlon X2", and could have sworn I chose to be Live! I restarted after the drivers were downloaded and checked into their hotel room, and the BIOS boot screen appeared. Perhaps some hardware developer had been consuming the wrong tonic drink while working overtime.

    So thanks be to God I get to soft boot my system now. But I guess I'm not getting Live! entertainment after all.

    UPDATE 15 June:
    I was wrong. Today Windows Vista and the motherboard went back to their sinful habits again, and refused to reboot the machine proper. Looks like it only decided to be in a "good mood" the past week. Ah, the truly arcane intricacies of making a system reboot itself. Surely a one-in-ten chance of succeeding by any motherboard vendor.

    UPDATE 16 June:
    Looks like I've found the culprit - the monitors set at 75Hz refresh rate somehow makes it unsuitable for reboot. 60Hz seems to have sorted it out. Incredible. Is the video chipset trying to revolt on me for making it push out 15 more screen redraws per second?

  •  08-17-2008, 14:27 4347 in reply to 1501

    Onboard video = the suck

    Sweet loving. It is well past 3am. What am I still doing awake? Well I certainly ain't performing a variety of video tests on my newly acquired high-resolution monitors. What I have been doing is trying to get out of another technological mess I fell into.

    I had completely forgotten this workstation of mine was built on a really unstable foundation. Last year's issue of unrebootable hardware has returned to haunt me again. Why? Simply because I plugged in this new pair of monitors.

    This time round, changing refresh rates - all it offered was 60Hz to 59Hz - did not save the day. Not only that. I frequently RDC back to this computer from my laptop when I am outside. Guess how I even "recalled" this problem in the first place - because switching between virtual desktop for RDC display and actual desktop for physical monitor display completely hangs the hardware.


    Thus began a whole series of troubleshooting scenarios. Too long to list, nonetheless wasted my entire evening. My other plans all wrecked. I should have been asleep three hours ago. In fact I intially went to bed heavily frustrated, tears flowing, with thumb in my mouth, and crying out to mommy but she refused to pat my head and offer me some consolation Oreo cookies. Unable to solve the problem, I was contemplating assaulting the situation like a rough tough man would - buy a brand new PC altogether. Fixing sub-standard hardware is for wussies!

    But a look at the wallet can quickly bring a man down to earth. What other means do I have? Here's where possessing multiple machines in the house really helps. I plug out the GeForce 6800GS video card from my gaming PC and shaft it into this workstation. The tests confirmed my theory:

    The onboard GeForce 6150 chipset is sub-par unstable hardware.

    Looks like the lesson of the day is, if you want to run dual-monitor displays via a single video adapter, make sure it is a real video card, not the onboard adapter.

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