[Techtalk] Build it! redux, and AMD woes

Akkana akkana at shallowsky.com
Fri Nov 9 19:51:01 EST 2001

You all convinced me that building a box was the right approach
(you're right -- more fun that way, and it's nice to know details
of what's in the box and why) and after reading all the AMD
testimonials, and doing some web searching that showed me that
absolutely everyone thinks the Athlons outrun the P4s for non-gamers,
I built myself an Athlon XP 1.4GHz (Palomino) based system.

The install went smoothly, but the problem now is that I'm getting
random glitches during compiles.  It'll get a few (5-20) minutes into
a build, then die with a segv from as or gcc or something, or it'll
just hang while ld'ing a library.  Restart the build, and it completes
whatever it had problems with but dies somewhere else a few minutes later.  

So I thought, everyone says Athlons run hot, so on a friend's advice I
got some Arctic Silver II and reinstalled the (stock) heatsink and fan
carefully.  Clobber and rebuild -- same problem.  The heat sink feels
warm to the touch but not uncomfortably hot (of course, I don't know how
hot the actual chip is).  If I reboot when I see the compile problem and
dump into BIOS, the CPU temperature is around 113, where the danger temp
is supposed to be 177.  (Of course, it might have cooled down during the
halt/bios start, but if I let it sit, it doesn't change temperature
quickly at all.)

Now, I could run out and invest in an aftermarket fan, but I'm starting
to think the problem isn't heat after all.  But how to tell what it is?
Other possibilities that occur to me are
- memory (DDR): though I have no particular reason to think it's bad
- disk: the main disk (a WD) took forever to format and gets hot as
  heck when formatting or compiling.
- motherboard (Soyo SY-K7ADA, ALi Magik1 1647/1535D+ chipset):
  - IDE: on bootup, it takes an unreasonably long time to find all the
    IDE disks (could that be a problem with the WD?), sometimes doesn't
    find them all, and doesn't see my floppy (an ancient thing that's
    been collecting dust, maybe it really is broken) 
  - BIOS: more recent BIOS revs had something to do with "recognizing"
    the Palomino/XP chips, though my older BIOS does correctly report
    it as a 1400GHz Athlon.  Upgrading the BIOS requires borrowing a
    DOS machine but I can do that if it might help.

I'd love to monitor the processor temperature from Linux, but I tried
the lm_sensors program (2.5.5 and 2.6.1) and it doesn't see any sensors
(though the motherboard does have them, and comes with a Windows-only
program to monitor them).  I didn't have much luck reading the
lm_sensors web site to trace the problem any further.  They list the
ALi 1535D+ chipset as supported but beta.

Is there any diagnostic software available for Linux that might help me
test some of these subsystems and narrow down the problem a bit more
(quick while I still have a warranty)?


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