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Startup Problems During POST


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#1 Mardon

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 08:00 AM

My system information is listed at the end. I started experiencing boots failures about 2 months ago. I would get a Beep Code (5 beeps then pause, 5 beeps then pause and repeat). The beeps occurred almost immediately, before I saw anything on the monitor. Iíd power down and try another restart and it would always work the second time. I looked up the HP beep codes and found a reference to a keyboard error. I tried using a new keyboard but it didnít stop the problem. I continued to use the computer. Most days Iíd have to start it twice; the first time getting beeps but the second time successfully booting.

Two days ago, I got a blue screen crash after I had been using the computer for several hours. I wasnít able to record the STOP Code but I did notice a reference to MEMORY near the top of the screen. I now have my camera ready but I havenít seen this screen since. When I tried to restart the computer after that crash, I didnít get any beeps but the system hung later on during the start-up sequence. I tried powering off and on again. Sometimes I would get beeps right away and start-up would halt right there. Other times it would go past this point without beeps but then stop at the HP logo screen. My system has 2 optical drives and an old 3 1/4 diskette drive. The BIOS is set to boot only from the Optical Drive then Hard Disk. It is not set to boot from the diskette drive. I have noticed that during the boot sequences that fail, the lights on both optical drives flash first, then the hard drive light blinks, then the diskette drive lights. During a failed boot attempt, the diskette light stays lit and never goes off. If the diskette light goes off, then the Boot sequence always finishes OK and the computer starts fine. On the monitor screen during boot, I see the HP logo first and then if the boot is going to be successful the words, ĒPress any key for Option ROM MenuĒ, flash onto the bottom of the logo screen. If the boot sequence is going to hang, these words never appear and the screen freezes at this point. Usually, I can hold in the power button for 10 seconds and the machine will power off. On one occasion (only once!), it would not power off and I had to pull the power cord.

I could not get the computer to go past this point, so I tried switching the keyboard (I remembered the beep code reference to a keyboard problem.) The new keyboard did not fix the problem. I then remembered the MEMORY reference on the blue screen, so I removed two sticks of memory. I originally had 2Gx2 and 512MBx2 memory modules. I pulled the two 512MB sticks. The computer then started fine. I thought Iíd found the problem. After I shut it off and tried to restart the computer, it would not start again. Sometimes it would give me the Beep Codes but other times it would not hang until it got to the HP splash screen. The diskette light always remained on if the system was hung, so I tried pulling the IDE connector on the diskette drive. My thinking was that that drive might be faulty. Testing with the diskette disconnected didnít work though because it gave a message that the diskette drive cable was not properly attached. I had to plug the cord into it again. What did work was reseating the 2x2GB memory sticks. I re-seated the memory and the computer started fine. I turned it off and the computer would not start. I tried multiple times and it still would not start. Sometimes Beep Codes occurred but sometimes it would not beep; not stopping until it got to the HP logo screen. I tried reseating one memory module and it started first time. Thatís the way itís been for two days now. It will not start after I turn it off unless I re-seat a memory module and then it starts OK (thus far anyway). BTW, the two 512MB modules remain out.
This all seems so weird, with no pattern to it. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

System Specs:

Hewlett-Packard hp workstation xw6200
Board: Hewlett-Packard 08B8h
BIOS: Hewlett-Packard 786B7 v2.02 06/02/2005
3.60 gigahertz Intel Xeon (2 installed), 16 kilobyte primary memory cache, 1024 kilobyte secondary memory cache
Maxtor SATA Device 250GB x 2
4MB, Kingston DDR2-400/PC2-3200 - ECC - DDR2 SDRAM - 184-pin
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
Silicon Image SiI 3132 SATALink Controller (for external eSATA drives)

The OS is dual boot Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista Ultimate (x64) SP2.

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 11:36 AM

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/...3/c00206613.pdf

Looks like a RAM error, not keyboard.

Louis

#3 Mardon

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 12:36 PM

[Looks like a RAM error, not keyboard.

Louis

Thanks for the link, Louis. I donít know where I read that the 5 beeps was the keyboard. Having the beep code error for memory makes more sense, since reseating the memory has always caused the computer to start OK at the next power-on. After one such successful start, I ran the Windows Memory Diagnositc and it finished without errors. After that, I shut-down again and the next power-on failed to boot. I had to reseat the memory again to get it to start.

I only have two RAM modules installed now, 2x2GB, the other 2 slots are empty. The computer runs OK once it starts but I still have to reseat the memory before each power-on in order to get it to boot. I donít have any other DDR2 ECC memory try except the two 512MB modules. I did try only those 2 modules but it wouldn't run with just those. Do you think it's really the memory module(s) or is it possible that one of the memory slots on the MoBo is bad? Does it matter which two of the four slots I use for the two 2GB modules? Those are currently installed in the white slots. Is it OK to move them to the black slots and leave the white slots empty to see what happens? I guess my only other option is buy two new memory modules. I hate to do that though if a bad MoBo were causing the beep codes to point to bad memory that is not actually bad. Any comment? Thanks again. Mardon

Edited by Mardon, 06 October 2009 - 12:38 PM.


#4 hamluis

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 02:38 PM

Well...I can only tell you how I approach it when I suspect memory issues :thumbsup:.

I run Memtest86+, although I've heard that the Windows Memory Diagnostic is also trustworthy.

I put all modules I have in initially...as soon as I get an error (any error) during the Memtest run, I stop and start systematically experimenting.

If modules produce an error, I cut that in half and try two (assuming I have 4 motherboard RAM slots). If that produces errors, I go to simply 1 module, placed in a specific slot.

If I get no error with that module in that slot, I try another module in that slot.

I continue with this until I've assured myself that the slot is not the problem and that the individual modules all work fine in the known good slot.

I continue in this fashion...until I can conclude that all modules are good and each slot is good.

That leaves the motherboard RAM timings and the clock speed as potential culprits, along with module compatibility.

From the previous testing, I've noted the individual module timings...and the listed clock rate of the RAM. If the modules reflect different clock rates, that could be a problem re compatibility. If the timings are different, that may be impacted by whether the motherboard is successfully adjusting for such.

It's a very systematic process...takes a little patience...but eventually, I am led to correct conclusion.

I had some RAM that was listed as PC3200 that was running at a slower speed...mixed with PC3200 running at the stated speed. The fact that I started receiving various STOP errors indicateed a memory problem. Once I realized that two of the modules were not running at stated/expected speed, I chose to reduce the BIOS multiplier (downclock) since I preferred to use the maximum number of modules and was not at all concerned with whether the bus clock ran at 166 or 200.

Investigative work...that's what checking out suspected RAM problems is :flowers:.

Louis




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