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A Question about memory from a memory newbie

Last response: in Memory
October 23, 2004 9:19:58 PM

Forgive my extreme ignorance, but could someone please explain what double-sided ram is vs single-sided ram and how to tell the 2 apart... both physically by looking at it and when you're buying online?

I ask because I'm in a quandry, and maybe someone could help me with this as well.

I have an EPoX motherboard (EP-4G4A) with 1 stick of 512MB DDR PC2700 currently in it.
I'd like to upgrade to 1GB.
I added an identical stick of ram (512MB DDR PC2700) to the 2nd memory slot, but it made my PC unstable.

The motherboard user manual isnt any help, so here I am, begging for any help and wisdom you can offer :) 

- Patrica (the memory newbie)
October 25, 2004 2:14:53 AM

Since both sticks of RAM are the same speed, your machine shouldn't become unstable by adding in another stick.

Double-sided and single sided just refer to which side the chips are on, either the individual chips are on one side of the RAM stick, or both.

You shouldn't have to buy new RAMs unless you have one bad stick currently.

What happens if you swap RAM chips, does the PC run fine? If you put both chips in, does the computer turn on (Read--> Can you get into the BIOS with both chips in)? What kind of power supply is it, and what do your voltage rails look like?

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October 25, 2004 8:59:17 PM

Thanks for replying Mr5oh :) 

My power supply is a Turbolink 350.
My PC runs fine with each stick of memory individually.
With both sticks the PC starts up and runs fine until I try to play a graphics heavy game; it will run for a few minutes then freeze up the PC.
The sticks are double sided.

Explain where to find it and I'll tell you what my voltage rails look like :) 

Luckily I havent bought any extra memory yet, I used 2 existing sticks (one from my PC, the other from my husbands) which we've used for almost 2 years.

We tried both sticks of memory in my husband's PC, and it froze up while loading windows. Our PCs are exactly the same except that he has a better power supply (Antec 430), other than that we have identical motherboards, CPUs and RAM. Different graphics cards though.

It's a little odd that the memory sticks seem to behave differently in our PCs. But then, when we first put our PCs together (2 years ago) one of the sticks of memory wouldnt work in his PC, but it's been working wonderfully in mine all this time. We bought both sticks at the same time from the same place.

The user manual for the motherboard isnt clear on whether 2 sticks of double-sided are supported or not. In one section it indicates it's not, but then further down it says "Once 2pcs of double-sided memory modules are used, please install them in DIMM 1 and DIMM 2 to prevent unstability issue happen." (I put the sticks into 1 & 2, incase you were wondering) :) 

The manual says it supports PC1600/2100, could it be that the motherboard doesnt support PC2700 if more than 1 stick is used?

Thanks for your time :) 
Related resources
October 28, 2004 5:00:11 PM

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?
I thought this would be easy for you hardware gurus :) 
October 28, 2004 8:24:15 PM

I'll try to take a stab at your issue..
since no one else will! :p 

First of all.. memory is very very complicated. Your problem could be resulting from many different things. I still have many question in my mind which is too difficult to answer on this board (might explain the number of replies)

Firstly, your board is supporting a total memory space of 3GB max at PC-2100 speed, and you are using memory manufactured at a later time PC-2700. This can already cause some complications. Further, you have matched pairs, but I wonder if module specs are the same (same latency? same vendor, manufacturer..etc).

Also, I would ask you if you can provide more details on the memory (brand, chip#, latency if you can find it). It can be the case that the particular memory module you are using is not supported efficiently by your board. Some memory modules will crash a computer completely for a given motherboard. There is also the possibility of counterfeit modules, which surprisingly make up 10% of the global DRAM market.

Basically, depending on how you arrange the modules per memory channel on your memory bus, will determine how your memory controller arranged the addressing for the modules. Certain addressing is favorable over others.. might explain why two modules is not working as opposed to one.

Different results on two computers? Maybe check the BIOS settings... BIOS version and check the memory latency, BUS speed, multiplier value etc in your BIOS setup; they are probably different for both the machines.

So with this, if you continue to experience problems, its a good bet that the memory you have is just not good for your board. In which case, maybe you can do some research on your board and find which memory works best. Often mobo manufacturers will provide such a list for their boards. Maybe this information is a phone call or web site away.

Hope this helps a little =(
October 29, 2004 9:34:07 PM

Thanks for trying to help, BrentUnitedMem :) 

The memory is from samsung, it should have a latency of 2.5 which is what we ordered. We bought both sticks at the same time from the same vendor, so they should be exactly the same.
We built our PCs at the same time with the same parts from the same vendors. We set up the BIOS on both PCs at the same time with the same settings. BIOS version is the same.
What is different is the power supplies, graphics cards(now), and cases.

I guess my only option at this point us to just keep looking. EPoX's site has yielded a big fat zero so far.

Thanks for your time, BrentUnitedMem, greatly appreciated. :) 
October 29, 2004 9:58:47 PM

Samsung is, in my opinion, the best overall brand for memory. CL 2.5 is standard for PC-2700, so the problem is probably not your memory.

Unless the memory is somehow marked as "made in Taiwan", your memory is fine. I'm serious, many ill reputable sources will sell Samung look alike brands. I hope you didnt buy from oversea... *cough TAIWAN.

Things to look for on counterfeit modules:
-the ink on the chips is aligned perfectly.
-the ink characters on the chips are all identical.
-the bottom of the IC will say "made in Taiwan", though you have to pull off the chip to tell.

Otherwise, it's most likely a problem related to your motherboard. You can also try to switch the VGA cards & power suppply and see what happens.
October 30, 2004 2:23:07 AM

I bought the memory from a US company that has a good sellerratings rating, but I'll check the chips just incase.

I just downloaded and ran SiSoftware Sandra. Here are some results if you're interested:

Manufacturer : Pronix (Epox)
MP Support : No
Model : i845G-W83627
System BIOS : 08/22/2002-i845G-W83627-6A69VPAKC-00
Chipset : Intel 845 (Brookdale)

System Memory Controller
Location : Mainboard
Error Correction Capability : None
Number of Memory Slots : 2
Maximum Installable Memory : 2GB
Bank0/1 - A0 : DIMM Synchronous SDRAM 512MB/64
Bank2/3 - A1 : Empty

Chipset 1
Model : Epox Computer Co Ltd 82845G/GL/GV Brookdale Host-Hub Interface Bridge (A1-step)
Bus(es) : ISA AGP PCI IMB USB FireWire/1394 i2c/SMBus
Front Side Bus Speed : 4x 134MHz (536MHz data rate)
Maximum FSB Speed / Max Memory Speed : 4x 133MHz / 2x 166MHz
Width : 64-bit
IO Queue Depth : 8 request(s)

Chipset 1 Hub Interface
Type : Hub-Interface
Version : 1.50
Number of Ports : 1
Width : 8-bit
Full Duplex : Yes
Multiplier : 1/1x

Logical/Chipset 1 Memory Banks
Bank 0 : 256MB DDR-SDRAM 2.5-3-3-6CL 1CMD
Bank 1 : 256MB DDR-SDRAM 2.5-3-3-6CL 1CMD
Speed : 2x 167MHz (334MHz data rate)
Multiplier : 5/4x
Width : 64-bit
Refresh Rate : 15.60┬Ás
Power Save Mode : No
Fixed Hole Present : No

Version : 2.00
Multiplier : 1/2x
Maximum Interrupts : 24
IRQ Handler Engaged : Yes
Enhanced Support : Yes

Memory Module(s)
Memory Module 1 : Samsung 512MB 16x(32Mx8) DDR-SDRAM PC2700U-2533-700 (CL2.5 up to 167MHz) (CL2 up to 133MHz)

Could it possibly be that my motherboard can only support upto 512mb of single-sided in DIMMs 2&3? And anything else in either of them causes instability? Or is my lack of knowledge giving me crazy ideas?

I really appreciate your help. Thank you :) 
a b } Memory
a b V Motherboard
October 30, 2004 8:27:16 PM

Every once in a while you'll see a bad stick of RAM make it to the market, even from reputable makers. I'd test these sticks individually under Memtest86, then together if the individual testing doesn't show a problem.

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