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Hardware Interrupts


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#1
deadmancooley

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I have a recurring problem with unexplained high CPU usage.

History-
Was running XP Pro, no service packs. CPU began to spike when running any of a number of programs, running between 60% and 100% even though System Idle showed 99%. Suspected malware or bad drivers, tried fixing both. Nothing worked.

Currently-
Made a fresh install of XP Pro, installed Service Pack 1a. Still showed CPU spiking to 20% even though Sys Idle at 99%. Discovered and downloaded Process Explorer which shows the problem to be Hardware Interrupts.

Questions-
Could Hardware Interrupts have been the problem that was killing my computer earlier? What can I do to identify which piece of hardware is causing the interrupts? Once I identify the source of the interrupts can they be fixed or do I need to replace the part?

Thanks in advance for any support or suggestions!

-Alex
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#2
gerryf

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hardware interrupts are what occur when a piece of hardware needs access to the CPU and interrupts whatever process is already occuring.

They are a normal function of a computer---a hardware that has higher priority will interrupt those with lower priority.

What is not normal is when this occurs so much that windows performance suffers greatly.

I suspect hardware malfunction--how old are the parts? THe easier way to nail this down is to remove some hardware and then add it back until the problem recurs.
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#3
deadmancooley

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Thanks for responding!

The case, power supply, processor, and hard drive are all about two and a half years old. The motherboard, graphics card, and RAM I bought about three months ago. The network card is a very recent addition; I couldn't get the onboard LAN to work with the new router in my apartment so I bought a PCI card.

If I had to be suspicious about any piece of hardware it would be the motherboard. I bought it on the cheap to replace one that warped, and after that I had my very first experience with a glitch like this. I spent almost a week trying to fix it before realizing that I hadn't installed any ATI drivers :tazz: which promptly fixed the problem.

I'll try removing bits to test it out, but there are only so many parts I can remove and still have a functioning computer! In fact the only thing I CAN remove is the network card without purchasing extra parts. So my questions are:

1.) Would disabling hardware through the device manager have the same effect as physically removing hardware from the computer for this purpose?

2.) Is there no way to trace hardware interrupts using software?

3.) Does the fact that this problem doesn't occur in Windows Safe Mode tell me anything?

Thanks again!
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#4
gerryf

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1) Yes, it does

2) I will see if I can find some low level tools, but disabling hardware will accomplish the same thing easier

3) Yes, it tells us that it is hardware/driver issue. Since safe mode does not load all drivers, but only those that are required to get a basic system up, we can surmise that the problem is related to either a device that is not used in safemode (cdrom, nic), or a device that is running in limited function.

A driver may address this, as might a bios update given the nature of your motherboard. I doubt it is memory related, but have you run a memory tester?
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#5
deadmancooley

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Okay, so I played around with the Device Manager and I found something that works, but I don't like it. I disabled the onboard audio (C-Media Device) and restarted the computer. This made things much worse, with Hardware Interrupts sucking up 30-60% of CPU usage. I then went back into the device manager and re-enabled the audio, and now everything works perfectly. No interrupts to speak of. The only other thing that's different is that the task bar no longer has the little audio control utlility on it, so where there was once the ATI control panel, MS Automatic Udates, and a little speaker there is now only the ATI control panel and MS Automatic Updates.

What's going on here?

1.) The audio control utility is causing some weird compatibility issue and I should get it to stop loading.

2.) My onboard audio is funky and I should buy a PCI Audio Card to replace it.

3.) Drivers are at fault (i'm using the audio drivers that came with the motherboard software and I'm almost afraid to try replacing them due to a bad experience in the past with onboard audio drivers on another computer)

3.) It's just weird, I should stop complaining and always disable the audio when I turn the computer off and re-enable it after I turn it on again.

Thank you gerryf and have a lovely day, you fantastic geek you! :tazz:
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