seekingbuddha
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Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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I know this thread won't be answered by Dell support,  or possibly i will get the standard answer that E310 motherboard supports only 2GB (official number).   But, i am hoping that there  other hardware enthusiasts here like me, who have found a solution to this problem......

Is there any successful case of E310 Bios reporting 4GB to (any) OS kernel ?  I am running A03 version of BIOS because according to documentation from Dell, A04 upgrade will get me only  ability to run higher speed CPUs, not RAM upgrades.  What a bummer....when you upgrade  CPU, one would expect that  users would attempt  RAM upgrade first, and hence BIOS team should have addressed that issue first before  giving ability to upgrade CPUs !!! Following is my account of many hours spent on research on the internet into the details:

Resurrected an old Dell Dimension 3100 erasing the Windows XP with Ubuntu (Xubuntu specifically, but this could have been 64-bit Windows as well - does not matter). Installed Ubuntu LTS 14.04.3  64-bit version. This machine has a Hyper threading, 64-bit capable Pentium 4 with 915GV Intel chipset (that is capable of max 8GB RAM, according to Intel). Upgraded from existing 1 GB of Kingston RAM with purchase of 2 Samsung (identical model) 2GB sticks. I have tried all possible combinations of all 3 memory sticks, as well as testing them alone on this machine. BIOS reports 4GB or 3GB, depending on the combination of sticks i put in. All Memory sticks are good, and they run the machine individually. 


The problem is that I am seeing conflicting reports from some command line commands and applications such as "sysinfo" or "hardinfo". Kernel logs observed in syslog point to 3.2GB is seen by kernel - not the whole 4GB that is seen by BIOS, or other command line tools. I am suspecting that this BIOS is buggy, and is not giving all of the address space to kernel. Here are the links showing the conflicting reports:

  1. This is what kernel sees in syslog: http://paste.ubuntu.com/12404466/
  2. Command line showing 4GB presence : http://paste.ubuntu.com/12405884/
  3. Output from "hardinfo" application : http://paste.ubuntu.com/12405897/

 I am aware that this machine was originally sold to me with 2GB max RAM as official data. But, after seeing internet reports of others who have done 4GB, and looking into the 915GV chipset intel data, i am thinking this maybe a buggy BIOS that is not giving the final 1GB to the kernel.  

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seekingbuddha
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RE: Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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Hi   Rdunnill,

    I have been informed that the cause of the loss of RAM in BIOS is due to "PCI-hole" problem, which are present in older systems.  Essentially, lot of RAM memory is simply lost/unused by the hardware, due to this problem and OS will get to use only about 3. GB.  At this time, it is not yet clear to me if the space taken up by device drivers is included in the 3GB or excluded.  So far i know that atleast part of (if not all) the video memory is NOT included in the figure reported by OS.  Other driver data  maybe OS dependent, and i am not deeply knowledgeable about  Ubuntu/Debian OS which i am now running.  So, the answer to your question above is that you will see about 1GB loss again, if you upgrade to 8GB - usuable RAM would be around 7GB.  Might be an overkill, considering the price of a new machine Vs. RAM these days.

I read your reply (during my research) in the thread  en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19306285,  which would lead others to believe that all 4GB is usable RAM.  You may want to edit that reply there.

You are running A04 BIOS, but i have not upgraded from A03 because I don't see that the upgrade will do anything towards memory issue (but only gives higher CPU option, which i don't need).   Upgrading BIOS to go from 2.8 to 3.4GHz CPU would gain some speed, but I don't run any CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

 

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seekingbuddha
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RE: Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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Hi   Rdunnill,

    I have been informed that the cause of the loss of RAM in BIOS is due to "PCI-hole" problem, which are present in older systems.  Essentially, lot of RAM memory is simply lost/unused by the hardware, due to this problem and OS will get to use only about 3. GB.  At this time, it is not yet clear to me if the space taken up by device drivers is included in the 3GB or excluded.  So far i know that atleast part of (if not all) the video memory is NOT included in the figure reported by OS.  Other driver data  maybe OS dependent, and i am not deeply knowledgeable about  Ubuntu/Debian OS which i am now running.  So, the answer to your question above is that you will see about 1GB loss again, if you upgrade to 8GB - usuable RAM would be around 7GB.  Might be an overkill, considering the price of a new machine Vs. RAM these days.

I read your reply (during my research) in the thread  en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19306285,  which would lead others to believe that all 4GB is usable RAM.  You may want to edit that reply there.

You are running A04 BIOS, but i have not upgraded from A03 because I don't see that the upgrade will do anything towards memory issue (but only gives higher CPU option, which i don't need).   Upgrading BIOS to go from 2.8 to 3.4GHz CPU would gain some speed, but I don't run any CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

PS:  I am unable to post web links in this post. I assume it is because i don't have enough number of posts in this forum yet.  The web URL icon is grayed out for me now.

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rdunnill
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RE: Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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I have one of these, and my experience installing 4gb was similar. I'm curious if it would support 8gb of memory, but not to the point of spending $200 for an answer.

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seekingbuddha
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RE: Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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Hi   Rdunnill,

    I have been informed that the cause of the loss of RAM in BIOS is due to "PCI-hole" problem, which are present in older systems.  Essentially, lot of RAM memory is simply lost/unused by the hardware, due to this problem and OS will get to use only about 3. GB.  At this time, it is not yet clear to me if the space taken up by device drivers is included in the 3GB or excluded.  So far i know that atleast part of (if not all) the video memory is NOT included in the figure reported by OS.  Other driver data  maybe OS dependent, and i am not deeply knowledgeable about  Ubuntu/Debian OS which i am now running.  So, the answer to your question above is that you will see about 1GB loss again, if you upgrade to 8GB - usuable RAM would be around 7GB.  Might be an overkill, considering the price of a new machine Vs. RAM these days.

I read your reply (during my research) in the thread  en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19306285,  which would lead others to believe that all 4GB is usable RAM.  You may want to edit that reply there.

You are running A04 BIOS, but i have not upgraded from A03 because I don't see that the upgrade will do anything towards memory issue (but only gives higher CPU option, which i don't need).   Upgrading BIOS to go from 2.8 to 3.4GHz CPU would gain some speed, but I don't run any CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

 

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seekingbuddha
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RE: Buggy BIOS reports wrong RAM to OS - though works for normal cases....Should i buy a DELL next time ?

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Hi   Rdunnill,

    I have been informed that the cause of the loss of RAM in BIOS is due to "PCI-hole" problem, which are present in older systems.  Essentially, lot of RAM memory is simply lost/unused by the hardware, due to this problem and OS will get to use only about 3. GB.  At this time, it is not yet clear to me if the space taken up by device drivers is included in the 3GB or excluded.  So far i know that atleast part of (if not all) the video memory is NOT included in the figure reported by OS.  Other driver data  maybe OS dependent, and i am not deeply knowledgeable about  Ubuntu/Debian OS which i am now running.  So, the answer to your question above is that you will see about 1GB loss again, if you upgrade to 8GB - usuable RAM would be around 7GB.  Might be an overkill, considering the price of a new machine Vs. RAM these days.

I read your reply (during my research) in the thread  en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19306285,  which would lead others to believe that all 4GB is usable RAM.  You may want to edit that reply there.

You are running A04 BIOS, but i have not upgraded from A03 because I don't see that the upgrade will do anything towards memory issue (but only gives higher CPU option, which i don't need).   Upgrading BIOS to go from 2.8 to 3.4GHz CPU would gain some speed, but I don't run any CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

PS:  I am unable to post web links in this post. I assume it is because i don't have enough number of posts in this forum yet.  The web URL icon is grayed out for me now.