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Sorry for the long post, but I'm trying to be as complete as possible. I'm working on a friend's 8200 which suffered a drop. It was in a padded briefcase on an airline seat and got bumped to the deck by a guy passing by. It was powered off at the time.

At boot, I get the following messages:
Memory write/read failure at 1FFF0028, read FF10FF11 expecting FF10FF10
Memory address line failure at 1FFF0000, read FF10FF10 expecting 00000000
Memory write/read failure at 10000040, read 00EFooEE expecting 00EF00EF
Decreasing available memory

The BIOS shows 256MB RAM, and I'm immediately thinking a bad memory module. The system has two 256MB DIMMs installed, so I removed one DIMM and the system boots with 256MB just fine. Thinking that I had the bad DIMM in my hand, I swapped them to make sure that was the case. The system still booted just fine.

To check more thoroughly, I used the Dell diagnostics CD. Ran the full diagnostics with each of the following permutations:
DIMM A in Slot A
DIMM A in Slot B
DIMM B in Slot A
DIMM B in Slot B
DIMM A in Slot A and DIMM B in Slot B
DIMM A in Slot B and DIMM B in Slot A

I actually couldn't test both DIMMs with the diagnostics because the BIOS decreases the available memory before the diags even run. Beyond that, the system passes all the diagnostics with only one DIMM installed, but fails with two installed. It doesn't matter which DIMM is in Slot A and which is in slot B; I get the same addresses in the error message either way. Also, I put the DIMMs in another laptop and they seem to work fine.

Just for experimentation, I then powered-off the machine, pulled the hard drive out, and rebooted. Curiously enough, I get
Memory write/read failure at 1FFF00F8, read FF10FF11 expecting FF10FF10
Memory address line failure at 1FFF0000, read FF10FF11 expecting 00000000
without the "decreasing memory" message. So, I reinserted the drive, and ran the diags again. Sure enough, the BIOS now shows 512MB installed and I can run the diagnostics on both DIMMs.

Now, when I test the system memory, all goes well in the memory address line test until it tests addresses 10000000h through 100FFFFFh, the same address line from the error message. I get an "Abnormal program termination: Memory protection fault" error message for a few seconds, then the diags terminate, and I get a command prompt.

So now I'm thinking motherboard instead of RAM.As a last-ditch effort, I reseated the graphics card. (I was thinking the graphics card probably shared the system memory.) While I was in there, I also reseated the CPU. I didn't actually remove it; I just unlocked and relocked the little retention screw. Still the same error.

Here are my thoughts of other things I can do:

  • Put the 2 DIMMs from a known-good laptop in and see what happens. (I'd have done this already, but the owner of the known-good machine is on vacation and I didn't think of it before. :) )
  • Try to workaround the issue by getting a 512MB DIMM and pray the issue has something to do with both slots being used.
  • I could try flashing the BIOS (with one DIMM installed). I know it's risky and unlikely to fix anything, but the mobo's probably dead anyway, so I figure there's not much to lose.

Any thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated!!

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Last Post by sendres
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Some more information:

Both memory modules are of the same type / brand / speed. They were both Dell-installed at manufacture.

Someone suggested the motherboard might have been "tweaked" (for the lack of a better word) just enough to cause a stress crack and oddly enough it caused the DIMM slot to stop working.

I had this thought as well. But if that's the case what I can't understand is why each slot works and tests good with the diagnostics when only one DIMM is installed. I can install one DIMM in either Slot A or Slot B and the memory test passes fine. This is true with both DIMMs, so both appear to be fine. It's only when two DIMMs are installed that it fails.

I did take the time to examine both slots under bright lighting and a loupe. There could of course be hidden damage, but close scrutiny didn't show any.

Also, my prior boot of Windows with 512MB worked exactly once. When I tried to reboot, I got nothing on the screen, and the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock LEDs light up for a few seconds, then the whole thing powers off. Some googling shows this to be a problem with the "memory subsystem" (no surprise there), but I haven't found any further details.

Anyway, I was eventually able to reboot to the BIOS, and reset it to the defaults again. Then it once again boots to Windows XP. After a few seconds, the screen blanks out, except for occasionally flashing:

A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.
PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA
If this is the first time you've seen this error screen,
restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow

That's all. I literally started at the screen for about 15 minutes just to read this, because it's black most of the time and only flashes on-screen occasionally.

Now, my understanding is that this is also most likely to be caused by a memory problem, so fixing the hardware issue should hopefully resolve this as well. I removed the second DIMM and the system boots okay with 256MB, so that does seem to be the case.

I guess the thing that's disturbing is that this machine doesn't have a scratch on it. I obviously wasn't much more than a bump that caused all the consternation.

Any thoughts?

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Someone suggested the motherboard might have been "tweaked" (for the lack of a better word) just enough to cause a stress crack ...I can't understand is why each slot works and tests good with the diagnostics when only one DIMM is installed.

Damage to a memory controller chip or one of the address/data circuit traces on the mobo can cause problems with ranges of memory addresses, or memory addresses above a certain point, regardless of whether the total installed memory is contained on one RAM module or multiple RAM modules.

Dell's support site alludes to the above in their description of the exact error messages you are getting from their diagnostics:

Message:

Memory address line failure at address, read value expecting value

Memory write/read failure at address, read value expecting value

Probable Causes:
Faulty or improperly seated DIMMs or defective system board

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Well, this makes sense to me. I can now bite the bullet for the cost of a new motherboard with a reasonable idea that this is, in fact, the problem.

Thanks for the help!

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Sorry the news isn't better, but it really does sound like you're looking at a motherboard replacement...

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Sorry the news isn't better, but it really does sound like you're looking at a motherboard replacement...

That's okay; I can deal with replacing the motherboard. But I don't think I could deal with replacing the mobo and having it NOT solve the problem!

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Just a follow-up here to let others know what I found, in case someone has a similar experience. In the end, it was both the motherboard and one of the DIMMs that were at fault. Everything's cooking now!

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How much did the inspiron 8200 motherboard cost?

I am having the same exact problem, actually I know 2 more people with this same laptop having the same problem. All of a sudden I started getting those same memory errors, or blue screen of death within Windows itself. But removing one stick of RAM fixed it. I can move the stick of RAM into either bay and the laptop runs fine, but as soon as I put in the second stick of RAM, error messages or crashes.

So I went out and bought two brand new RAM sticks, still having the problem.

Is it even worth my time replacing the motherboard, since this dang Dell has had the video card fail, the hard drive fail, the battery fail, the sound fail all within 2 years buying it new.

I am a computer tech and I have to say Dell are by far the worst computers I have experienced, 90 percent of the PC / Laptops I repair are Dell and most are built with junk defective parts.

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How much did the inspiron 8200 motherboard cost?

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Is it even worth my time replacing the motherboard, since this dang Dell has had the video card fail, the hard drive fail, the battery fail, the sound fail all within 2 years buying it new.

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I think I paid $70 or $80 on eBay. As for whether it's worth it to replace the mobo, that's hard to say. But I still use my 8200 every day...

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