Problem with XP: Kernel and Processor going crazy...

Hello folks, I've got a serious issue that keeps popping up from time to time. Usually a format/reinstall fixes it, but it's time for me to stop putting a bandaid on the wound, and ask the pros what they make of it. So here I am. Let me explain what caused it first, then we'll get on to the problem.

Last night, I loaded up Winamp, and decided to play Battlefield 2 while listening to music. I load up the game, music is playing, and WHAM! Blue screen with no noticeable stop errors. What got me was a lot of popping and crackling sounds coming from my speakers, that was so loud, I had to turn them off. I rebooted my computer, and here's what started happening.

My PC was running sluggish, so I checked the Task Manager and noticed my Processor and Kernel was moving from 0% to 30%, 0% to 30%, etc. etc. etc. all in the span of a second. Now this has happened before, each time with the popping sounds, a blue screen, and an eventual PC wipe. Here is a screenshot of my Task Manager:

My specs are:

Intel P4 3.2 800mhz FSB w/Hyperthreading
2 512 sticks of 533mhz RAM
1 1gig stick of 533mhz RAM
120gig SATA Seagate HD
Creative Labs Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS
BFG Tech GeForce6800 OC 256meg PCIX Video Card

I've tried uninstalling Winamp, and removing the sound card from the system all together. Neither of them work. My brother suggested a chatty NIC, but there's no way of checking that to my knowledge, and I can't afford to just start replacing parts.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I've been a hardware tech for a long time now, but this is new to me even. And I've been out of the game now for a few years as well. Any help is appreciated!
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  1. Does the motherboard you have consist of a VIA chipset by any chance? There have been numerous issues with Creative sound cards and VIA chipsets... and neither side seems to be doing much about it.

    For a quick test, remove your Audigy and try using the onboard sound.
  2. hehe, had that issue for the longest time
    it's the audigy drivers

    uninstall them clean, from the registry and file system, heck i'd re-install windows all together to make sure they're clean, then you install your audigy CD EXCLUDING the driver section - do not install the drivers off the cd

    once you have the software in, you know the speaker settings, thx control, all the usual tools like the mixer n' stuff (if you actually use them, otherwise jump right to the next section)

    hit, use the automated update section to get the latest ones, i think itll be v9800 or something

    make sure your onboard sound controller is disabled from the bios
  3. This issue can also occur with VIA chipsets... even with the newer drivers. The only solution that worked for me was to disable the 8x V-Link option in BIOS. More recently, my drivers have somehow become corrupt and need to be completely removed... as the problem occurs even with the 8x V-Link disabled.
  4. Oh man, do I have an update for you guys....

    Ok, here's what happened today. I reinstalled Windows XP on a clean slate, since the last time this happened, I created a 15 gig partition on C: just for windows. So I wouldn't lose any info. Anyway, off to installing I go.

    First attempt. Do'h, got to the finish line, and forgot that I had my USB perfs still attached. It hung up, so I unplugged them and started again.

    Second attempt. Got through the installation, and noticed it went fine. No kernel going crazy. So I plug in all of my USB perfs at once, and BLAMO! Windows blows up and kernel goes crazy. So this leads me to believe it's one of the USB devices causing the problem. However, after unplugging them all, it's too late. Kernel is still going crazy. So I reinstall again.

    Third attempt. Back to a fresh install of Windows, and I plug in the suspect device. It's an external USB Hard drive encloser. AH HA! Windows has trouble finding the device, and right before my eyes, the kernel goes crazy. I unplug it, and the problem is gone. I plug it back in, Windows finds it this time, and no problems. Ta da! I think, and while installing the driver for my Saitek joystick, BOOM! Blue screen of death. :( Upon boot-up, it tells me that hal.dll is corrupt, and I'm screwed.

    Fourth attempt. I get back to a clean windows again, and while installing my drivers (At this point, I got wise and put them all on a flash drive) I notice that my drive letters have changed. My D: drive was my info drive, and it's now my C: drive. My C: drive is now my D: drive where Windows in currently installed. Not being satisfied, I decided to try to fix that. So I bust out Partition Magic, and even though it told me not to change my Window's boot drive letter, I did anyway. Windows did not boot upon loading. :cries:

    Fifth attempt, and so far, it seems fine. I'm scared out of my pants to install anything at this point. I come to the forum to check if there are any new replies, and find the above posts. So I check my bios, and didn't see the option to turn it off. Seeing as how I don't know of any other decent sound cards that aren't Audigy cards, I guess I'm screwed. So I guess my question is, and pardon me for being tired of my computer today, but....

    How can I find out if I have the VIA chipset, and where can I get the latest updates for it? I have a Dell XPS machine, and their site has "Intel Chipset Drivers" for my machine, but it's from 2004. Is that common? If not, are there any programs out there that will give me better system info than Windows?

    Thanks for the update guys. I'm a little bummed that I can't fix this problem, and according to the guy above saying it's a driver problem, doesn't look like it'll ever get fixed.
  5. To my knowledge, the problem doesn't exist with Intel chipsets... which is likely what you have. You're best bet is to install the latest chipset drivers from Intel's website and it probably wouldn't hurt to update the BIOS. Then, download and install the latest drivers for your Audigy.
  6. Quote:
    To my knowledge, the problem doesn't exist with Intel chipsets... which is likely what you have. You're best bet is to install the latest chipset drivers from Intel's website and it probably wouldn't hurt to update the BIOS. Then, download and install the latest drivers for your Audigy.

    Yea, I updated the chipset drivers from Dell's site last time, and kept up to date with my Audigy drivers as well. You think it's a bad soundcard?
  7. Download them from Intel's site... Dell usually doesn't have the latest drivers on their site.
  8. yeah get the each component's drivers from its own website
    so the latest intel drivers from
    latest audigy drivers from or and so on
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