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Occasional freezes/errors on boot

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September 19, 2009 9:10:02 AM

Hello!

I've recently built a new system with the following specs:

XFX 512 GTS 250
Intel Q9550 775 2833 BOX1333 12M
Corsair CMPSU-520HX 520W ATX2
Creative X-Fi Titanium PCIe
Asus P5Q-Pro P45
Corsair 4GB 1066-555 Dual Channel
2x Western Digital 320 GB SAT2 WD3200AAKS
Lite-On DH-16D2S DVD drive

Before I go on I should say that I am using Linux.

Anyway, the first couple of weeks I had no errors whatsoever, everything was running smoothly.
Then, after a while it froze while booting and I was forced to do a hard-reboot.
I rebooted and it booted just fine and everything was normal.
About a week later it froze again and after that it started happening about once or twice a week.
Also, the freezes changed from during boot only to during boot or during the login screen/right after logging in.

At some point (I was playing a game at that time) everything just crashed. Compiz crashed (I was using Ubuntu at that time), my panel was gone, I couldn't click/open anything anymore, yet my game kept running and I could play it normally.
After a reboot nothing worked, everything simply returned segmentation faults.
Subsequent reboots resulted in errors 80% of the time, random error messages that kept changing with each reboot, mainly lots of numbers.

I went ahead and formatted and reinstalled Ubuntu. Again I received segmentation faults and random errors while trying to boot.
Then I installed Arch Linux with KDE to see whether it could be related to Ubuntu/Gnome. After about 2 days I started having problems again, receiving errors upon trying to boot.

I formatted again to my usual setup of Arch Linux and Gnome and for one whole week no errors occurred (I did however change the order of my partitions if that has any significance). After that week I started having freezes again (but no weird boot errors as I'd had before) on most days. It happens nearly every day now, though sometimes it will boot normally or, instead of a freeze, it'll show an error (screenshots below).
Also, the freezes only seem to happen on a cold-boot but not on a reboot.

Screenshots of some of the errors:







Things I've done:

- I checked all components/cables (more than 3 times now). Everything is plugged in the way it's supposed to be. I even replugged some just to be sure.
- I ran smartmontools (to check the S.M.A.R.T. data), fsck and memtest86+, both several times, everything checks out, no errors.
- I played around with the BIOS settings (before that I only changed my RAM from 800 to 1066)
- I enabled AHCI. Errors started when I hadn't enabled it, persisted after enabling it.
- I checked all temperatures and compared them to manufacturer specs/other users' temps. All fine.
- Googling, lots of it.

I've noticed one really odd thing, though:

When I played around with my BIOS settings, I noticed that my RAM voltage wasn't what it was supposed to be.
It was 2.00 as opposed to 2.10 as specified by the manufacturer. I changed the voltage to 2.10 and rebooted. Freeze.
If I set the voltage to anything but 2.00 it will freeze, _always_, the same way the other freezes occur (just that they don't always occur).
That struck me as very odd, yet my memory has undergone numerous memory tests now but all turned out fine (I did try running memtest with a voltage of 2.10 too, no errors either).


I am rather clueless as to what it could be and tesing things one by one is a bit hard, seeing as the freezes don't always occur and only on a cold-boot. I am pretty sure it has to be hardware related but I just can't seem to find the cause.
Any help really appreciated!
a b B Homebuilt system
September 19, 2009 1:37:53 PM

I'd drop the RAM speed to 800 MHz and lower the voltage to 1.9V to see if the issue continues to occur.
September 19, 2009 2:04:59 PM

Thanks for your reply!
I just changed my settings accordingly and it booted normally.

Since the freezes only seem to happen on a cold-boot I'll have to wait to see whether this helps over the next couple of days.
Related resources
September 26, 2009 8:49:29 PM

Over the course of the last week no freezes occurred and it seems like the problem has been fixed.

However, I formatted yesterday and today, while watching a video, my system suddenly froze (which has happened once before but is unlike the freezes stated above) and I was forced to hard-reboot.
After that hard-reboot my home partition didn't pass the filesystem check and was damaged, apparently beyond repair.
I installed windows to run the WD diagnostics for my hard drives and both of my hard drives passed the extended test.

A freeze while watching a video strikes me as very odd but I can't seem to narrow it down to anything specific. It doesn't seem to be my hard drives and for it to just be "bad luck"..would be too much of a coincidence. Besides, a freeze like that shouldn't have happened in the first place. So something must be going on.

Also, a few interesting things I've noticed:
I can change my RAM voltage to 2.0 and even 2.1 and boot fine into windows as opposed to Linux (tested with 2 distros and several setups).

When I select "BIOS - All" in the memory sizing options in memtest86+ my system freezes. I tested that with v2.11 and v1.7x. I did however read that this option can cause trouble with some mainboards so I am not sure whether that has any significance.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 26, 2009 9:03:37 PM

When you reinstalled, did you use the same video drivers? Since the freeze occurred while watching a video, I would suspect the video card.
Quote:
I can change my RAM voltage to 2.0 and even 2.1 and boot fine into windows as opposed to Linux (tested with 2 distros and several setups).
What happens when booting Linux and the memory voltage is higher? It always fails?

I wouldn't worry too much about the "BIOS - All" option in memtest86+. I also ran into issues with it.
September 27, 2009 8:56:01 AM

I believe it was the same version, yes. I installed the latest ones and didn't pay much attention to the version number.

If I choose a voltage of 2.0 in Linux it will freeze about 80% of the time, either while booting or right after (logging in/shortly after logging in).
If I choose 2.1V it will _always_ freeze.

Good to know that at least I won't have to worry about that error with memtest then.

I will try to find something to stress test my GPU with and see what happens.
If nothing comes of it I will just format again and see whether it happens again, though it being "bad luck" would be just way too much of a coincidence.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 27, 2009 1:33:46 PM

Does the RAM work reliably at 800 MHz and 1.8V?
September 27, 2009 2:37:17 PM

I have only tried 1.9V, 2.0V and 2.1V.
Currently I am running stress tests with Prime95 and everything seems to be fine so far.
I've run the 3 default tests with my RAM set to 2.1V@1066mhz and 1.9V@800mhz, no errors so far.
When I finish the tests I will try to find something to stress my GPU and see whether I can find anything there.
September 27, 2009 5:32:33 PM

I have run all of the default tests of Prime95, no errors were found and everything went smoothly. I let it run for hours and even tried some different RAM settings just to be sure.
Going by those tests it would seem that my memory, CPU, mainboard and PSU are fine.
Also, I ran FurMark to see whether my GPU would act up but that ran smoothly as well.
I am currently re-checking my hard drives but I don't expect to find anything there either.

Everything seems to be in order according to the tests I've run.
The hard-reboot was probably the cause of the damage to the filesystem of that particular partition, yet the freeze itself bugs me more than anything.
I guess I will just have to format again and see whether it happens again, if it does not I'll file it under "incredibly bad luck".
!