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Old 03-08-2016, 05:34 PM   #1
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Hello,

I've got a really confusing case. There was one instance that I moved my CPU from one place to another, and suddenly it could not boot up. When I removed on of the RAM card, I was able to power up normally. I was also able to power on the system when I sit back in the other RAM card that I just remove too.

Now, I'm trying to replicate this non-boot-up issue again to try to troubleshoot what was going on with my CPU when I shifted it. I tried shaking the RAM stick, then booting up again, and it was able to boot up. Could it be that my RAM cards are faulty? Or the motherboard is not working properly?

My current system configuration is shown below.

Processor - Intel Xeon CPU E5-2687W V2 @3.40GHz
Motherboard - Supermicro X9DR3/F
PSU - Zippy MRG-5800V4V 800W
Graphics Card - Nvidia Quadro K50000
Hdd - Plextor PX-512M5Pro (512GB)
ECC Ram - SK HYNIX 8GB 2Rx4 PC3 - 12800 (x2)
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Old 03-09-2016, 06:44 AM   #2
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What does "shifted" mean? Did you hand carry it across the room, or ship/transport it miles away in a car or truck? Could it have been bounced about and abused while out of your sight?

I would make sure all power and data connectors are securely fastened, and any expansion cards are fully inserted and secured tightly with the mounting screw.

Visually inspect your CPU's heatsink to make sure it did not come loose. If careful, you can apply a "very gentle" back and forth twist to the heatsink fan assembly to feel if loose. If loose, you will have to remove it completely, thoroughly clean the old TIM (thermal interface material), apply a fresh, thin new layer of TIM, and remount the heatsink fan assembly.

You should probably test your RAM. I recommend MemTest86. Allow the diagnostics to run for several passes or even overnight. You should have no reported errors.

Alternatively, Windows 7, 8 and 10 users can use the built in Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool.

Note, however, that software based RAM diagnostic tools are good, but none are conclusive. So you might try running with just a single RAM module to see if it fails. Repeat process with remaining modules, hopefully identifying the bad stick through a process of elimination. Just be sure to unplug the computer from the wall and touch bare metal of the case interior BEFORE reaching in to discharge any destructive static in your body.

To conclusively test your RAM, you need to use sophisticated and very expensive test equipment, like this $4,000 Eureka Express DDR3 DIMM Memory Module Tester.

***

Note the similarly named, MemTest86+ is often suggested. While a capable "open-source" tester that came from the same roots as MemTest86, development ceased on it in 2013, before DDR4, several current CPUs, and the UEFI platforms became popular.

The popular benchmarking developer company, PassMark, took over development responsibility for MemTest86 a couple years ago, keeping it current. In addition to DDR4, the latest CPUs, and UEFI BIOS platforms, MemTest86 also supports native 64-bit operating systems.

Also note that neither of the above should be confuse with MemTest. While also a capable tester, it is my experience that MemTest86 is the most thorough of the software based testers.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:22 PM   #3
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Thank you for your reply!

Shifted meaning I just moved it from across the room. When I check, all the connectors are secured and the cards are fully inserted. I even disassemble all the parts and fix it back up again, but unable to replicate the no boot issue too. Also tried isolating the RAM by powering it up using one, however, 10/10 times it was able to boot up.

Could the movement from one place to another, or slight vibration before start up caused the server to not boot up at all?

Ill try using Memtest86 later to see how it goes.

Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2016, 07:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Could the movement from one place to another, or slight vibration before start up caused the server to not boot up at all?
Not unless something was loose or there was some other physical damage somewhere. For example, a cracked motherboard that is flexed or twisted when picking up the case could worsen the crack but those seem like rare and unlikely events unless you rough-handled the case during the move.

So now you are saying you are trying to replicate the problem - are you saying it works fine now?

Note that RAM slots are designed to keep dust and debris out when RAM is properly, and fully inserted. But sometimes, RAM may not be fully inserted and still work - but because not fully inserted, allow dust to get in. So reseating the RAM a couple times can scrape clean the contacts. You might try this - but be sure to unplug from the wall and touch bare metal of the case interior before reaching in to discharge any static in your body.
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Old 03-14-2016, 06:55 PM   #5
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I did a physical check on all the parts, it looks fine. Yes, currently it is working fine, but I would need to replicate the same issue again.

Do you think if I would to expose the RAM slot for a couple of hours, then sit the RAM card back in might have a slight possible chance that it might not boot up? I'll give it a shot and see what happens

What else can be the possible reasons that might cause it not to boot up?

Anyway, thank you for your help so far, really appreciate it.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
but I would need to replicate the same issue again.
Why? It sounds like when you tested all the connections and/or broke the system down and reassembled it, you secured whatever might have been loose.

Quote:
Do you think if I would to expose the RAM slot for a couple of hours
Expose to what? Why are you trying to break your computer? ESD (electro static discharge) sensitive devices like RAM and CPUs should be handled as little as possible. They best left fully inserted in the motherboard, or in their original retail packaging. My advise is to leave your RAM alone.

Lots of things can prevent a computer from booting - that is one reason it is difficult to troubleshoot - and especially when it is intermittent.

At this point, we don't even know where in the boot process it fails to give you any viable suggestions.

As you noted, it currently is working fine. So I recommend the old, tried and true adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
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Old 03-15-2016, 09:12 AM   #7
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In my many decades of computer repair I have seen this quite frequently. I now live on a small Caribbean island, so I see this more often than other locations, but I have seen it numerous times before. Over time the RAM modules can develop a slight tarnish on the contacts that can interfere with operation. The physical movement of the CPU unit may have contributed to the issue.

In such cases I carefully remove the RAM and very lightly clean the contacts with a pencil eraser. Upon re-installing the RAM, 99% of the time the issue is resolved. Be careful not to damage the small surface mounted components that are often soldered to the RAM modules, sometimes VERY close to the electrical contacts.

I've encountered this 3 times in the last week alone. No other repairs were necessary in each case.


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Old 03-15-2016, 09:30 AM   #8
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The pencil erasure trick to clean electrical contacts has been used by technicians for decades. In fact, that was something I was taught in tech school way back in 1971. But as Wizmo notes, you must be very careful - not just to avoid damaging the contacts with the erasure, but as I noted above, through ESD which can torch a Grand Canyon sized trench (microscopically speaking) through a high-density IC without you ever seeing, feeling or hearing that a static discharge ever occurred. This is because ESD sensitive devices can easily be destroy by static discharges (microscopic lightning bolts or "arcs") that occur way below the threshold of "human awareness".

I recommend a new pencil erasure because (1) they are clean and (2) older erasures harden. And scraping/cleaning the erasure on your blue jeans first will clean and soften it up a bit more for a more thorough cleaning.

Be sure to blow away any erasure debris and residue before reinserting the RAM. Cans of compressed dusting case work well for that.

And of course, make sure you properly align the module before reinserting. While they are keyed to only go in one way, they can be forced in backwards with a little extra force.

Good luck.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:01 PM   #9
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@Bill_Bright Actually, I'm trying to troubleshoot this server for my work. One of my higher ups wants to replicate this issue so that we know which is the part that is causing the fault. It has already been months since we tried this but to no avail. However when our server is with our customer, this no boot up issue will occur intermittently , I did what i did which is to remove and reseat the RAM card and it is working again. But we took it back to our factory just to understand what really went down and what causes this no boot up issue.

So up till now, there is not one instance that I'm experiencing this no boot issue and it is quite difficult to answer to them, so the only way now is to solve it. I already tried running various diagnostic test such as memtest86, checking the mobo's health, temp of processor etc. but it all seems to work out fine. Therefore I came here to find out what could be the possible reason for this to happen and what is the phenomenon behind reseating the RAM card that will make make the system boot up again, when it was down before that.
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Old 03-15-2016, 08:42 PM   #10
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Just to add on, the power supply the server is drawing from is from an external generator. Is there any chance that a supply of power might cause this issue?
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Just to add on, the power supply the server is drawing from is from an external generator. Is there any chance that a supply of power might cause this issue?
This morning, when I read your post #9, power was my first thought. You confirmed that with your post #10.

IMO, all computers - especially mission critical computers and servers - should be on a "good" UPS with AVR. The fact this computer is running off an external generator makes that even more essential, IMO. Generators typically do not have precise regulation.

Note that the ATX Form Factor standard for computer power supplies dictates that power supplies must have a "hold-up" time of a mere 17ms. This means the power supply is required to maintain output ONLY with any drop in voltage below 90VAC (180VAC with 230VAC mains) that last less than 17ms. That's much faster than a "flicker" in the lights. Humans can detect a flicker ("dip" in voltage) that last around 25ms or longer - at best.

Note that surge and spike protectors are little more than fancy and expensive extension cords as they do nothing for low voltage events like dips (opposite of spikes), sags (opposite of surges) or brownouts (long duration sags). And for excessive surges and spikes, they simply shut off power (if working properly), crashing your computer - never good.

A "good" UPS with AVR will have a cut-over time considerably less than 10ms, often closer to 5ms - plenty of time to compensate for any power anomaly.

Note it is the AVR (automatic voltage regulation) that makes a "good" UPS with AVR shine. Battery backup during a full power outage is just the icing on the cake.

Note I keep saying "good" UPS. Like computer power supplies, there are good and bad. The better UPS have better regulation and faster cutover times.

I have the APC Back-UPS XS 1500VA on my system. Note it protects my pretty power hungry computer, router, modem, 4-port Ethernet switch, and "two" 24 inch LCD monitors. I live in an old house in Tornado Alley, USA. We don't have the most stable power. This system easily protects from power anomalies and when the power goes out, provides over 40 minutes of battery run time which jumps to about 60 minutes if I quickly shutoff my monitors. If I shut off the computer too, it will keep my network alive for over 3 hours.

FTR, I also have a good UPS on my home theater audio equipment and big screen TV, and on my garage door opener too!

The downside to UPS is the batteries need replacing every 3 to 4 years. Most UPS designed for home use allow the user to do this and it is something most "normal" users can easily do. Many rack mounted UPS do not have user replaceable batteries.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:20 PM   #12
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@Bill_Bright

Just to give you abit more information, this server is actually on-board a ship. My server is connected to a UPS too. So the configuration on-board is actually from the ship's power generator > UPS > Server. But we used the wall plug instead of the power generator for lab test. The current UPS that I am using is the EATON 9130 Rackmount. I do not really know if this info is useful to you but I’ve did a power cycle for about 100 times and it could boot up normally all the time. Could this suggest that my UPS is considered good?

We might also suspect the ship's grounding might play a part regarding this issue.

However, thank you for the info about UPS! I really know nuts about it.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:11 AM   #13
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I do not really know if this info is useful to you but Iíve did a power cycle for about 100 times and it could boot up normally all the time. Could this suggest that my UPS is considered good?
Not unless the UPS was disconnected from the ship's main power and the batteries themselves assumed responsibility for the full load. There appears to be dozens of UPS in that 9130 series. Some are as small as 700VA/630W capacity which would not provide much run time at all.

The ship's engineer should be able to confirm grounding. This is critical for all onboard electronics. So I doubt it is bad, unless something came loose on that specific rack or it has been totally neglected.

How old is the PSU? I am not personally familiar with "Zippy" supplies but they seem have some good reviews. But I can find nothing current.

Quote:
Iíve did a power cycle for about 100 times
I worry now that you are going to test it to death! If you can't duplicate the problem after all that you have done and that much testing, all you can do it put back in service, then "hurry up and wait".

Finally, just to verify, in your listed specs, you said for the graphics card, it was a Nvidia Quadro K50000. Did you mean K5000? And you said for the HDD, it was a Plextor PX-512M5Pro. That Plextor model number goes to a SSD, not a HDD.

And to that graphics card, if a K5000, why? I mean this is a server - at least going by the motherboard, CPU and PSU. That's a very expensive graphics card for a server - computers that typically go unattended and don't normally need high-end graphics. Out of curiosity, what is this computer used for?
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Old 03-20-2016, 07:46 PM   #14
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1) The UPS will never be disconnected from the ship’s main power supply, and when I asked, it will provide about 30mins of backup time if the main PSU from the ship is down. The PSU is about 2 years old already. Zippy seems to be a reliable PSU when I did some research, not many reviews though but Zippy comes up when it comes to server and choosing the right PSU for it.


2) Yeah, I’ve stop doing any more power cycles just in case it reduces the lifespan of the server. To me it just doesn’t make sense. And what I really felt is the environment might be a possible cause of this issue. Sorry, the GPU is Nvidia Quadro K5000 instead, and yes I mixed up the SSD and HDD, but there are both the SSD and HDD found inside it, the OS is installed in the SSD and HDD, is just saving files or videos etc. I’ll shoot you a pm regarding about what my comp is being used for.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:53 AM   #15
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I’ll shoot you a pm regarding about what my comp is being used for.
As per my PM reply, best to keep it public so everyone has a chance to share and learn.
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:31 PM   #16
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Alright, I apologise for that.

This server is actually hooked up to 6 different cameras to provide surveillance to the boat. That's why we need such a good GPU for processing.

But however since I've taken this project up half way, I wouldn't know what are the other considerations and why did they accept this configuration for this server because they outsourced this to a vendor to build this.
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:30 AM   #17
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Alright, I apologise for that.
No big deal. Thanks. Beside the opportunity for others to share and learn, PMs risk delays in posters getting answers as life, family, work, school, vacations, illnesses or other events take us away from our computers. PMs may go unread for days, or even weeks.

Anyway, lets hope this server hold once put back. If not, I think it is safe to assume the problem is with ship's power (including grounding) or some extreme RFI/EMI condition that may or may not be connected to grounding too. Or vibrations.
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Old 03-22-2016, 05:54 PM   #18
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Roger that, thanks for the help thus far. I'm planning to do a vibration test just to simulate the ship's condition and see how it goes.
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