Crossfire crashing Vista 64?

This is modified version of a post that I put in the Gigabyte forum when I thought this was a MoBo issue. I now KNOW that it is an ATI Driver issue, apprarently with Vista 64, which causes random reboots, and am wondering if anyone here has found a solution?

The entire tale of woe follows.

Thanks in advance for your help!


There are Demons in My Computer!

Seriously, Demons live in my new system. I've been trying to exorcise them for 3 weeks, but the little devils just won't go!

System is:

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0 LGA 775 Intel P35
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor
4 x Crucial Ballistix 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel
2 x HIS Hightech H260XTP512DDN-R Radeon HD 2600XT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported iSilence III Video Card (IN CROSSFIRE MODE)
1 x Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
2 x Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (Configured RAID 0 off the extra purple raid/ide controller)
COOLER MASTER Real Power Pro RS-850-EMBA ATX12V / EPS12V 850W Power Supply
Vista 64-Bit Home Premium
SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N
Logitech LX 710 Laser Black USB Cordless Standard Desktop Keyboard & Mouse

I am not overclocking anything - yet. Didn't manage to get that far. I built the system and installed Vista 64 (the root of all evil?) and everything came together very nice and ran rock solid on a system level. I originally only ordered one 2600, and was running that with whatever graphics driver was on the install disk without a problem.

I decided I wanted to try Crossfire, so I ordered a duplicate card. Card arrived and I plugged it in - but I was still only geting FPS of around 30 in COD4. Something's wrong with that , right? So I downloaded the latest drivers (7.12 at the time I think) and FPS went through the roof (does anyone really need 300+ FPS?). Really awesome for the first day. Then the trouble set in.

Soon after I installed the second card (same night? can't remember anymore), the system went down with a real ugly crash that required I clear CMOS to restart. Henceforth, it has run fine during the day, but sometime in the middle of the night, the demons come out, and in the morning I have to clear CMOS to get it going again. This is a real problem, as the 750 GB in RAID 0 is the family's backed up network storage, and this system is intended to be up 7x24.

Here is what I have tried:

I have RMAd the Mo-Bo, but the new one arrived and crashed on its first night, so it is not mo-bo specific.

I have run a memory test on the RAM, and everything checks out.

I have checked the Windows logs - no specific thread starts before the system crashes. It shows the usual indexing and system maintenance tasks running in the background at night. Different nights it crashes at different times - and what is running varies.

I have tried the power options in endless variations. I have tried never allowing it to hibernate and forcing it to hibernate after 5 minutes of inactivity. I have done the same with all of the components you can turn on or off by timer in Vista 64. When I short time them down (so that they will do it while I am in the room), there is no crash. This demon apparently likes to wait until I am away. If I force everything to stay awake all night, the system still dies sometime between 1 and 4 am.

I have updated the BIOS to F11. This made the RAID gods angry for a while, but I solved that problem eventually.

I have installed SpeedFan and logged the temps and volts on the system. No peculiar rise in temp or voltage occurs before the crash.

I have purchased a UPC to assure no voltage irregularity. The software that logs the UPC says there are none.

Because Speedfan can't log the ATI temps, I have installed an extra fan blowing on the two 2600s. This system is designed to be SILENT, so these cards are both heatsink cards, which concerns me. This fan does lower the temp on both the system and the cards, but it does not keep the system up all night. Since it adds noise, I'll probably disable it except when I'm gaming.

I have played much COD4 with the graphics cranked to stress test the graphics cards. I have twice been rewarded with the Blue Screen of death, both times showing an error in NDIS.sys, which strikes me as odd, since googling seems to show that NDIS.sys is a network driver? This error DOES result in a corruption of the BIOS, so it is possible it is the same error that is occuring in the dark of the night - although I doubt anyone is sneaking in and playing COD4 in heavy graphics mode while I am asleep and yet still refusing to clear my CMOS when they crash my system.

Finally, I tried reinstalling Windows. At first, I tried to just install a new instance of Windows and have it archive the old version, so I could pull some files from it. That resulted in a BSOD during the install and much corruption. So I reformatted the hard drive and started from scratch -losing a few weeks of tweaks and work.

Once Windows was installed, I let it run for 24 hours without any drivers. Solid. Then I layered on the Mobo drivers and let it run another 24 hours. Solid. Then I layered in the sound drivers and a few basic apps (like Flash reader and Java VM). Another 24 hours - still solid. Then I loaded up the latest ATI drivers (8.1) and *boom* down she goes.

So I know this is an ATI Driver issue. The hardware is happy running with the standard VGA drivers. The ATI Drivers dig in and make a mess. When I tried to do a system restore to move back to clean so that I could install the older ATI drivers today, the System Restore went BSOD, so now it looks like I will have to do yet ANOTHER format and install.

This is crazy - I've spend near 40 hours working on this issue - always presuming the fault was with the MoBo because of the BIOS corruption. Now I see that others are reporting troubles here?

I have cursed, I have prayed, I have sobbed, I have drank myself into a stupor, and I have threatened my computer with both a 45 caliber pistol and a bucket of day old mop water.

None of these things has solved my issue.

Perhaps you kind souls have a suggestion?

In your debt,

7 answers Last reply
More about crossfire crashing vista
  1. I thought I would update this post with additional data and see if anybody had any clue.

    Turns out this is not Vista 64 specific. I wiped and formatted the disk, and installed XP. Again, the system was stable up until the point I installed the ATI drivers.

    I tried 8.1, which crashed it so bad I had to reinstall the entire OS. Then I tried 7.12, which still crashes it, but only requires I run system restore and then reinstall to bring it back to life.

    So I tried running each of the cards individually to see if either one had a hardware error. Here, something really interesting happened. When I pulled one card and disabled crossfire, my FPS in COD4 stayed about the same (mid 80s - low 90s). Should that be the case? When I originally had one card, it ran at about 30FPS, but that was on an older driver (7.9?). When I installed the second card, I installed the newer driver and the FPS jumped to the 90s. I assumed it was crossfire, but now am wondering if it was just the driver and the crossfire never worked?

    Either way, the first card ran all night alone and brought down the system. The second card (the original one) then ran all night alone and brought down the system. I'm going to rerun the test this weekend with a fresh install on the system and the original card - because at least for the first few weeks that was a stable combo.

    Still, wondering if this gves anyone any thoughts?
  2. start with bare install on a bare system? Just HD, vid card and windows and driver...?
  3. I think heat is your problem. Maybe new drivers push the cards a bit harder.
  4. If temps get to high it will reboot probably.. hmmm heat... yes...
  5. I have the same problem, using clean installs with XP pro, Vista 32 and 64 ultimate.
    I been on line with tech support, you have to install 1 card, load the drivers and then after several reboots, install the second with the crossfire bridges. Basically, the blue screen will show back up later possibly and if you look, the culprit is the ATI sys drivers.
    I figured I would save some money, and give ATI a shot with dual 4850 cards, should have bit the bullet and went with Nvidia :(

    trying to reinstall the system for the 10th time atm, hopefully ATI will get their crap together and fix this.

    Q9550 Quad Core
    MSI P45 motherboard
    8 Gigs (4 x 2gb) Corsair 1333 DDR3 (which really is 10666 - shame on corsair for false advertising)
    and 2 crappy Visiontek 4850 graphic cards
  6. Just because the error says atikmdag does not mean the drivers are the culprit all the time. I wish people would learn that. I have had it from system overclock and heat. You need to look at the error that leads up the ati driver crash, should be something that the driver like tripped on then caused the crash.
  7. Quote:
    4 x Crucial Ballistix 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel

    You do understand that 4 DIMMS are harder for your memory controller to drive, yah?

    Manually set all timings and voltages. Ensure the command rate is 2T, and make sure that tRFC ("Refresh to Activate Delay") is set to 54 or greater.

    Alternatively, you can buy a pair of 2GB DIMMS.
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