Re: PC will only boot sometimes?

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by w_tom, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    Until you get some basic numbers and fact, then you have not
    a clue as to what to suspect. For example, immediately, what
    does the Power Good signal from power supply report to
    motherboard power supply controller. You did, of course,
    start right off by measuring power supply voltages. Then
    confirming both Power On and Power Good signals.

    If you suspect memory, then, of course, you ran the
    manufacturer's comprehensive diagnostics (provided free). And
    you heated that memory with hairdryer on high so that the
    intermittent failure would occur more frequently or even be
    detected.

    But why suspect memory? Memory is not even involved in the
    BIOS startup.

    In short, what did you do to first identify the problem.
    Instead I read how you spent much time fixing things that were
    not broken - wildly speculating as to what the problem might
    be. First collect facts which is why your training noted the
    importance of a 3.5 digit multimeter.

    usp8riot wrote:
    > I am going for my A+ certification this winter, still need some time.
    > But I am repairing my Aunt's PC just for practice and her psu was
    > fried. I replaced the psu but now the PC will only correctly boot
    > every one in 7-8 boots. It boots other times but I get no screen.
    > And when that happens everything else seems to be working but the
    > one fan in the rear. I've tried it with 2 monitors, and 2 video
    > cards, so it's not a display problem. It's strange. I'm thinking
    > it's the memory but have no other compatible memory around to test.
    > I'm thinking the psu may have fried something more when it went
    > out, perhaps the cd drive because it won't open and the light
    > stays on all the time. I just want to know what anyone else
    > thinks about it.
    >
    > Thanks
    w_tom, Apr 20, 2004
    #1
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  2. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    Take memory out. BIOS will startup just fine - and should
    even report missing memory. One function a BIOS does only
    after startup is to identify memory - to learn what kind of
    memory is installed. It does all this without using any
    stacks or using SIMM memory.

    But if BIOS sometimes does not start; not even perform a
    memory identification, then something else has failed. Memory
    is not required until after BIOS startup and after other
    things have executed. A PC that does not boot will not even
    perform a basic memory check. Memory completely irrelevant to
    original problem. His problem: sometimes will not boot - will
    not even begin a BIOS startup. Memory and video are then
    irrelevant. Stacks are irrelevant.

    First things to check are power supply's Power Good and
    Power On signals. Functions that must work even before BIOS
    startup. Until power supply operation has been verified -
    power supply and other components - then other testing is
    relevant. Power supply and associated voltages must be well
    in spec before even BIOS can execute properly, before memory
    can run properly, and before video subsystem works properly.
    IOW the first tool is a 3.5 digit multimeter and a voltage
    chart for those limits.

    Barry Watzman wrote:
    > ...
    > That is not true. Anyone who knows how a processor works knows
    > that the stack must exist in memory (DRAM memory, not the BIOS),
    > and that without a valid stack in valid memory, you won't get
    > ANYTHING, in most cases not even the POST single beep.
    >
    > w_tom wrote:
    >> Until you get some basic numbers and fact, then you have not
    >> a clue as to what to suspect. For example, immediately, what
    >> does the Power Good signal from power supply report to
    >> motherboard power supply controller. You did, of course,
    >> start right off by measuring power supply voltages. Then
    >> confirming both Power On and Power Good signals.
    >>
    >> If you suspect memory, then, of course, you ran the
    >> manufacturer's comprehensive diagnostics (provided free). And
    >> you heated that memory with hairdryer on high so that the
    >> intermittent failure would occur more frequently or even be
    >> detected.
    >>
    >> But why suspect memory? Memory is not even involved in the
    >> BIOS startup.
    >>
    >> In short, what did you do to first identify the problem.
    >> Instead I read how you spent much time fixing things that were
    >> not broken - wildly speculating as to what the problem might
    >> be. First collect facts which is why your training noted the
    >> importance of a 3.5 digit multimeter.
    w_tom, Apr 21, 2004
    #2
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  3. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    All those other systems I designed and programmed don't
    work? You are only speculating that a BIOS startup must use
    subroutines. What happens when no subroutines are used in
    BIOS startup? No problem. Welcome to a world long ago when
    computer people wrote this stuff. Entire setup was simply
    execution from ROM code - no read/write memory and no
    subroutines - until after essential functions had been
    verified and setup.

    In the meantime, that is also what a BIOS does. Take out
    the memory. BIOS will startup properly, identify missing
    memory, and inform human accordingly with an error code.
    Memory identification does not occur until after other basic
    BIOS startup code has been executed.

    In the PC, one needs no subroutine calls to put simple text
    information on screen. Complex subroutines come later when
    more complex video functions are enabled.


    Barry Watzman wrote:
    > You can't do subroutine calls without a stack (which is where
    > the return address is stored), and you can't have a stack
    > without RAM. And there's no way to get as far as video out
    > without doing subroutine calls.
    w_tom, Apr 22, 2004
    #3
  4. w_tom

    AG Guest

    "SBFan2000" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Every motherboard I've seen will not display anything on the screen if
    > memory is missing, it will only give beep codes.
    >

    Me too. I've gotten a bad board to show error codes on a POST card but
    that's all. I don't know anything about subroutines or such. I just know
    what happens when I put bad RAM into a good board. And what happens is no
    picture and beeps.
    With no RAM in the board at all I just get beeps.
    AG


    > "w_tom" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > All those other systems I designed and programmed don't
    > > work? You are only speculating that a BIOS startup must use
    > > subroutines. What happens when no subroutines are used in
    > > BIOS startup? No problem. Welcome to a world long ago when
    > > computer people wrote this stuff. Entire setup was simply
    > > execution from ROM code - no read/write memory and no
    > > subroutines - until after essential functions had been
    > > verified and setup.
    > >
    > > In the meantime, that is also what a BIOS does. Take out
    > > the memory. BIOS will startup properly, identify missing
    > > memory, and inform human accordingly with an error code.
    > > Memory identification does not occur until after other basic
    > > BIOS startup code has been executed.
    > >
    > > In the PC, one needs no subroutine calls to put simple text
    > > information on screen. Complex subroutines come later when
    > > more complex video functions are enabled.
    > >
    > >
    > > Barry Watzman wrote:
    > > > You can't do subroutine calls without a stack (which is where
    > > > the return address is stored), and you can't have a stack
    > > > without RAM. And there's no way to get as far as video out
    > > > without doing subroutine calls.

    >
    >
    AG, Apr 22, 2004
    #4
  5. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    BIOS execution can be and has been done both ways - with or
    without video message. If computer beeps an error code, then
    BIOS startup code has executed - without subroutines. Beep
    code means that BIOS is executing without any memory
    installed. And that is the point. OP has a problem where
    sometimes the BIOS startup code does not even execute. Trying
    to fix it by changing memory? Do you now understand the
    absurdity of that solution? He is trying to fix something
    that is not even involved in his problem.

    There is no complicated initialization for Display Mode 7
    text display. Complication only occurs later. BIOS even
    introduces itself early on - typically at end of BIOS startup
    - because a simple text display is trivial. BIOS does not
    require complex program with numerous subroutines to
    initialize video controller. Video Controller's computer
    initializes for trivial text display on powerup.

    However back to the original point that is getting
    overlooked due to speculation. BIOS startup code executes
    regardless of whether DRAM is or is not installed. If BIOS
    startup code does not execute (sometimes), then DRAM is not
    reason for problem.

    Does the A+ certification even bother to teach how BIOS
    works?

    Back to the OP's problem. Before BIOS even executes, a 3.5
    digit multimeter reports basic signals such as Power On and
    Power Good. Simple information that any trained A+ technician
    would know. If those signals do not 'handshake' accordingly,
    then we can suspect a problem in one of three computer
    components (and definitely not involving memory). Nothing
    complex here. The most difficult part appears to get one to
    start looking at where problems may exist.

    SBFan2000 wrote:
    > Every motherboard I've seen will not display anything on the
    > screen if memory is missing, it will only give beep codes.
    w_tom, Apr 23, 2004
    #5
  6. w_tom

    AG Guest

    You have a point but there are only so many hours in a day. Is it necessary
    for me to know subroutines to diagnose a bad motherboard? Is it really
    going to make any difference in the way that I treat a malfunctioning
    computer?
    The truth is that 95% of the problems that I run up against in my job, which
    I will admit is mostly techsupport for ISP customers, are software related.
    I hand most of the hardware issues off to other local techs who have more
    time to hand hold and hardware in stock.
    The only hardware problem that I've had recently was a bad RAM stick and
    that was easy to diagnose by looking up the beep code in my little blue
    book.
    If a motherboard is bad the truth is that I'm going to replace it. It
    doesn't matter why it's bad, I'm not going to take the time to "fiddle" with
    it, I'm going to run to the nearest store or get one shipped in next day air
    if I'm only in a slight hurry.
    If I'm working on something mission critical, something we try to avoid, I
    don't have time to mess with subroutines or diagnosing exactly what part of
    the machine is at fault. As soon as I know what is at fault I'm going to
    replace it.
    I could go on but understand, I do understand what you are saying. Too many
    people don't know what causes problems and what they can do about it. Too
    many people can't navigate in command line for instance and there are still
    things that can only be done there.
    AG
    "Barry Watzman" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In my view, the fact that "I don't know anything about subroutines or
    > such" [and certainly that includes things like stacks, segement
    > registers, etc.] is a serious problem in this industry.
    >
    > We are creating a an entire industry of "experts" who, very literally,
    > don't know how a computer works [by that I mean, what goes on INSIDE the
    > CPU itself].
    >
    > I started in computers in 1967, and in microcomputers in 1975 with an
    > early IMSAI. We had to do our own programming in machine code (switches
    > and lights] and Assembly language.
    >
    > I don't want to be so far out as to suggest a return to that. But, on
    > the other hand, when certified experts literally don't know what a
    > "stack" or subroutine call or segment register are, how they are used,
    > and the various implications of all of this, then there is something
    > wrong. [Many don't even know what a "register" is at all, in terms of
    > the internals of a CPU.]
    >
    > This stuff can be taught fairly easily, it takes a few weeks to learn,
    > but it really dramatically increases your understanding of this stuff
    > (and your apprecitation of it's complexity, as well). It bothers me
    > that it isn't taught or expected of ANY of the major certifications (A+,
    > MCSE, any of the network certs. In my view, if you don't know this
    > stuff, you can't legitimately call youself a computer expert, anymore
    > than an auto mechanic could call himself an "expert" if he didn't know
    > what a piston or valve were or did (and that's actually a pretty good
    > analogy).
    >
    >
    > AG wrote:
    > > "SBFan2000" <> wrote in message
    > > news:...
    > >
    > >>Every motherboard I've seen will not display anything on the screen if
    > >>memory is missing, it will only give beep codes.
    > >>

    > >
    > > Me too. I've gotten a bad board to show error codes on a POST card but
    > > that's all. I don't know anything about subroutines or such. I just

    know
    > > what happens when I put bad RAM into a good board. And what happens is

    no
    > > picture and beeps.
    > > With no RAM in the board at all I just get beeps.
    > > AG
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >>"w_tom" <> wrote in message
    > >>news:...
    > >>
    > >>> All those other systems I designed and programmed don't
    > >>>work? You are only speculating that a BIOS startup must use
    > >>>subroutines. What happens when no subroutines are used in
    > >>>BIOS startup? No problem. Welcome to a world long ago when
    > >>>computer people wrote this stuff. Entire setup was simply
    > >>>execution from ROM code - no read/write memory and no
    > >>>subroutines - until after essential functions had been
    > >>>verified and setup.
    > >>>
    > >>> In the meantime, that is also what a BIOS does. Take out
    > >>>the memory. BIOS will startup properly, identify missing
    > >>>memory, and inform human accordingly with an error code.
    > >>>Memory identification does not occur until after other basic
    > >>>BIOS startup code has been executed.
    > >>>
    > >>> In the PC, one needs no subroutine calls to put simple text
    > >>>information on screen. Complex subroutines come later when
    > >>>more complex video functions are enabled.
    > >>>
    > >>>
    > >>>Barry Watzman wrote:
    > >>>
    > >>>>You can't do subroutine calls without a stack (which is where
    > >>>>the return address is stored), and you can't have a stack
    > >>>>without RAM. And there's no way to get as far as video out
    > >>>>without doing subroutine calls.
    > >>
    > >>

    > >
    > >

    >
    AG, Apr 23, 2004
    #6
  7. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    You are assuming that because video output is traditionally
    done via interrupt (subroutine) calls, then such calls are
    only way to output video. Wrong. I wrote just a program
    that did video output with subroutine calls so that program
    could even run faster on slower 386 and 486 processors.
    Written this way for faster video displays. IBM did same
    (without subroutines) in their AT BIOS. So yes, text can be
    displayed on video without calling subroutines. Code even
    demonstrated in video subsystems book.

    Assumed was that only interrupt calls (subroutines) can
    perform a video display. And yet is not true. Video
    subsystem can be written to directly. Text video is easily
    accomplished without calling subroutines as long as video is
    only a text mode display.

    But again returning to the OPs problem - if BIOS does not
    even start execution, then DRAM has absolutely nothing to do
    with the problem. Furthermore BIOS will execute even with no
    RAM in SIMM sockets. It will complain, but it will execute.

    Not necessary for a technician to learn the subroutines.
    But it is necessary to learn what, for example, the BIOS does
    before repairing things. More often, repair technicians only
    know the shotgun method. Don't even know how to use or read a
    meter.

    That brings us back to the original post. He wanted to
    blame something without taking basic information. He did not
    even first verify system voltages are stable or in spec. He
    wildly speculated without facts - and that is just too common
    among computer repairmen.

    A long list of replaced items is only a customer's problem
    and expense. Instead, a technician should know enough about
    the machine as to first collect basic facts and then know
    exactly which part is (could be) defective - all before
    replacing any parts. This usually only takes minutes.
    Computers today are so easy to understand - which is why
    shotgunning is not done by properly trained repairmen.

    Barry Watzman wrote:
    > I agree that you can do a beep without any RAM at all. But you
    > can't do video output. Video output REQUIRES subroutine calls
    > between the system bios on the motherboard and the video bios on
    > the video card. Subroutien calls require a stack. A stack
    > requires RAM. End of discussion.
    >
    > [There might be an exception for motherboards with video on the
    > motherboard as part of the chipset. Doing video output without
    > subroutine calls would be convoluted and almost impossibly difficult
    > even in those cases, but there is a difference between "impossibly
    > difficult" and physically impossible.]
    w_tom, Apr 23, 2004
    #7
  8. w_tom

    Martin Guest

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    Martin, Apr 24, 2004
    #8
  9. On Fri, 23 Apr 2004 09:50:08 -0500, "AG" <> wrote:

    >You have a point but there are only so many hours in a day. Is it necessary
    >for me to know subroutines to diagnose a bad motherboard? Is it really
    >going to make any difference in the way that I treat a malfunctioning
    >computer?
    >The truth is that 95% of the problems that I run up against in my job, which
    >I will admit is mostly techsupport for ISP customers, are software related.
    >I hand most of the hardware issues off to other local techs who have more
    >time to hand hold and hardware in stock.
    >The only hardware problem that I've had recently was a bad RAM stick and
    >that was easy to diagnose by looking up the beep code in my little blue
    >book.
    >If a motherboard is bad the truth is that I'm going to replace it. It
    >doesn't matter why it's bad, I'm not going to take the time to "fiddle" with
    >it, I'm going to run to the nearest store or get one shipped in next day air
    >if I'm only in a slight hurry.
    >If I'm working on something mission critical, something we try to avoid, I
    >don't have time to mess with subroutines or diagnosing exactly what part of
    >the machine is at fault. As soon as I know what is at fault I'm going to
    >replace it.
    >I could go on but understand, I do understand what you are saying. Too many
    >people don't know what causes problems and what they can do about it. Too
    >many people can't navigate in command line for instance and there are still
    >things that can only be done there.
    >AG


    Good points. Getting the job done means getting it done. If you are
    well-educated and can't produce, an uneducated producer is more
    valuable than you are.

    I have a diploma in electronics engineering technology. I worked for
    17+ years in radio/TV broadcasting, and 5+ in consumer electronics
    repair. I rarely had to use the true depth of my original knowledge in
    either of those jobs, but it certainly went a long way in helping me
    to understand, conceptualize, etc., in most situations that came up.
    As well, when those situations arose that required more in-depth
    knowledge (training on new equipment/technology, dealing with
    manufacturers' tech support), it was good to be able to walk the walk
    and talk the talk.

    It all depends on what you need/want to be able to do. It depends on
    how much time (we're talking years for high-level technological
    education) you have, your family situation, and other factors. The big
    thing is to get the job done. The one thing I do recommend for those
    lesser-educated producers...if you're not sure why something worked,
    do a de-brief, find out, ask the right person. Most positive results
    have logical reasons why they happened.

    Tom

    >"Barry Watzman" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >> In my view, the fact that "I don't know anything about subroutines or
    >> such" [and certainly that includes things like stacks, segement
    >> registers, etc.] is a serious problem in this industry.
    >>
    >> We are creating a an entire industry of "experts" who, very literally,
    >> don't know how a computer works [by that I mean, what goes on INSIDE the
    >> CPU itself].
    >>
    >> I started in computers in 1967, and in microcomputers in 1975 with an
    >> early IMSAI. We had to do our own programming in machine code (switches
    >> and lights] and Assembly language.
    >>
    >> I don't want to be so far out as to suggest a return to that. But, on
    >> the other hand, when certified experts literally don't know what a
    >> "stack" or subroutine call or segment register are, how they are used,
    >> and the various implications of all of this, then there is something
    >> wrong. [Many don't even know what a "register" is at all, in terms of
    >> the internals of a CPU.]
    >>
    >> This stuff can be taught fairly easily, it takes a few weeks to learn,
    >> but it really dramatically increases your understanding of this stuff
    >> (and your apprecitation of it's complexity, as well). It bothers me
    >> that it isn't taught or expected of ANY of the major certifications (A+,
    >> MCSE, any of the network certs. In my view, if you don't know this
    >> stuff, you can't legitimately call youself a computer expert, anymore
    >> than an auto mechanic could call himself an "expert" if he didn't know
    >> what a piston or valve were or did (and that's actually a pretty good
    >> analogy).
    >>
    >>
    >> AG wrote:
    >> > "SBFan2000" <> wrote in message
    >> > news:...
    >> >
    >> >>Every motherboard I've seen will not display anything on the screen if
    >> >>memory is missing, it will only give beep codes.
    >> >>
    >> >
    >> > Me too. I've gotten a bad board to show error codes on a POST card but
    >> > that's all. I don't know anything about subroutines or such. I just

    >know
    >> > what happens when I put bad RAM into a good board. And what happens is

    >no
    >> > picture and beeps.
    >> > With no RAM in the board at all I just get beeps.
    >> > AG
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >
    >> >>"w_tom" <> wrote in message
    >> >>news:...
    >> >>
    >> >>> All those other systems I designed and programmed don't
    >> >>>work? You are only speculating that a BIOS startup must use
    >> >>>subroutines. What happens when no subroutines are used in
    >> >>>BIOS startup? No problem. Welcome to a world long ago when
    >> >>>computer people wrote this stuff. Entire setup was simply
    >> >>>execution from ROM code - no read/write memory and no
    >> >>>subroutines - until after essential functions had been
    >> >>>verified and setup.
    >> >>>
    >> >>> In the meantime, that is also what a BIOS does. Take out
    >> >>>the memory. BIOS will startup properly, identify missing
    >> >>>memory, and inform human accordingly with an error code.
    >> >>>Memory identification does not occur until after other basic
    >> >>>BIOS startup code has been executed.
    >> >>>
    >> >>> In the PC, one needs no subroutine calls to put simple text
    >> >>>information on screen. Complex subroutines come later when
    >> >>>more complex video functions are enabled.
    >> >>>
    >> >>>
    >> >>>Barry Watzman wrote:
    >> >>>
    >> >>>>You can't do subroutine calls without a stack (which is where
    >> >>>>the return address is stored), and you can't have a stack
    >> >>>>without RAM. And there's no way to get as far as video out
    >> >>>>without doing subroutine calls.
    >> >>
    >> >>
    >> >
    >> >

    >>

    >
    Tom MacIntyre, Apr 24, 2004
    #9
  10. On Sat, 24 Apr 2004 09:28:53 GMT, "Martin" <>
    wrote:

    >blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
    >blah blah blah
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    >blah blah blah
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    >blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
    >blah blah blah
    >blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
    >blah blah blah
    >


    Jingle Bells, as sung by the Grinch? :)

    Tom
    Tom MacIntyre, Apr 24, 2004
    #10
  11. On Wed, 28 Apr 2004 20:07:20 -0400, "LadyTech"
    <> wrote:

    >
    >"Martin" <> wrote in message
    >news:prqic.60619$...
    >
    ><blah snipped>
    >
    >Maybe some can learn something from Barry! Hats off to the man!
    >


    Perhaps he was replying to w_tom? There was no attribution in his
    message, and my newsreader only goes 5 replies deep. Google groups is
    calling, I guess. :)

    It was w-tom he was replying to.

    Tom
    Tom MacIntyre, Apr 29, 2004
    #11
  12. w_tom

    Martin Guest

    "Tom MacIntyre" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On Wed, 28 Apr 2004 20:07:20 -0400, "LadyTech"
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > >
    > >"Martin" <> wrote in message
    > >news:prqic.60619$...
    > >
    > ><blah snipped>
    > >
    > >Maybe some can learn something from Barry! Hats off to the man!
    > >

    >
    > Perhaps he was replying to w_tom? There was no attribution in his
    > message, and my newsreader only goes 5 replies deep. Google groups is
    > calling, I guess. :)
    >
    > It was w-tom he was replying to.
    >
    > Tom


    You are correct Tom. ;-)
    Martin, Apr 30, 2004
    #12
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