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incredibly long pause during BIOS screen

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I'm running an Athlon 64 3000+ on a Gigabite K8N Ultra-9, with 523MB RAM

last night, just out of the blue my computer started giving me a 2-5 minute pause during start up.
the BIOS recognizes the CPU, but takes forever before the next message pops up to confirm the memory size. I have no idea what could have caused this-no hard ware changes, no significant program installs, and no changing the BIOS. mem test 86 shows no problems with the RAM sticks...help!
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