Slow SSD 3: Beyond Memory Testing

Slow SSD 3: Beyond Memory Testing

Part 1 | Part 2

Welcome, ensign, to our debrief. It sounds like you had troubling times…using…computers. Starfleet reports that citizens apparently have already encountered a form of your file system corruption problem. They report…unexplained crashes, file system corruption but no corresponding SMART data or bad blocks as a cause.

I finally got to a point where I could put tasks aside do a memory test. I chose the Memory Test option on the Grub boot menu, let it run all night…and no problems.

Next day…apt-get update…read only file system! Grrrrr… If it’s not my memory, maybe there’s a problem with my system stability in general. I’ve seen problems with my system in the past acting up and then…pow! My power supply blew up! Captain! Hull integrity compromised! Warp core is Off Line!

Well, getting a quality power supply is a fine investment. I plunk down for more than I need and get an EVGA 750W Platinum. Impressive bit of kit, easily sufficient for a 180W processor, full RAM slots, two SSDs, six spinning hard drives and a water cooler plus all the fans the case will fit.

Klingon bird of prey de-cloaking off the starboard—damned read only mode in /var again! That was frustrating. So…if I have good power, maybe motherboard. So, I buy an ASUS Sabertooth TUF Shit Thingy. Reinstall components. Run a memory test, test passes. File system…read only again! OK–order new drives. I find a pair of Refurbished 256GB Corsiar drives on Newegg for a fine price and a few days later, I’ve installed Ubuntu 16.04 Server edition with them in RAID1. Get it booting and … donk…read only filesystem. I bet there was nothing wrong with my pair of OCZ Vertex3s anyhow, I never saw any ATA errors logged from them. And on the fourth boot of that system…one of those Corsair drives disappears. Dead.

(Hrm…more kit to the little warriors later, huh?)

OK…light some incense. Pray that Sto-vo-kor will allow me in and consider what other alterations I could try whilst sharpening my mec’Leth…and sharpen…and read. Memory is possible. CPU is possible. I find both 32GB of ECC ram and another FX-8350 won’t break the bank. And while I’m doing this research, and am eagerly awaiting my new shipment of photon
torpedoes…I start seeing some red shirt conversations about different versions of Memtest86. …there’re two memtests?

Well, yes…and many releases. There is a Memtest86, Memtest86+, and multiple versions. Apparently Memtest86+ forked and pulled ahead a few years ago, but now Memtest86 (by Passmark) has had two versions succeeding it: 5.1.0 and 6.1.2. And the latest Passmark version allows better parallel-CPU memory testing. Well, I put the bat’Leth back on the wall and make a new USB boot stick.

The Passmark Memtest86 boots in two different modes: a Legacy BIOS mode and a UEFI aware mode. Only the UEFI mode will allow version 6.1.2 to run. Nice interface. Larger selection of tests, and clearly a way to punish all those dishonorable RAM sticks and all the unworthy processing cores in parallel. Sto-vo-kor, I hear thy song!

Load…choose parallel…start test…and parallel CPU testing locks and reboots my system in about 90 seconds. In a day, new RAM and CPU arrive. Mix new CPU, old ram: passes single core test, fails parallel test. Old CPU, new RAM, same thing. What have I done to dishonor the Empire? My shame, so research tells me, is that the AMD FX series on-die memory controllers are dishonorable, second-rate Ferengi knock-off technology barely good enough to run a 30 year old holosuite!

Over-clocking the ram is clearly a poor idea. How about under-clocking the RAM? Does not pass memory test. Over-volt the RAM? Does not pass memtest. Over-volt, under-clock ram and under-clock and over-volt the CPU? Does not pass memtest.

Tribble feces! The impudence of AMD! They are now my blood enemy…and when next we meet….

But, I have a system that I’m amazed doesn’t crash more, and have a lot of programming to do on it. Well, it’s about as safe as it gets for now, until I find something that is actually server grade. And that leaves some Vulcan Intel Xeon technology to find at DS9.

While storytelling is a great Klingon tradition…to drag this tale out to another episode would be a waste of time. First, I found an unused SuperMicro X10SRI-F motherboard and I bought a used Xeon E5-1650 for it. But, I didn’t understand the difference between the X9 and X10 series of motherboards and the X10 series is Skylake, and what arrived was a Haswell processor. Another problem is that SuperMicro motherboards lack a lot of useful things like … USB3 and audio chipset and standard PC case jumpers.

Back to Amazon and Newegg. I don’t want new Skylake equipment. Those processors are hundreds of dollars more expensive than what I need and I already have plenty of DDR3 that shouldn’t actually have a problem. And what do you know…the Asus X79 platform is still around as used parts. This was the first bit of clear sky I saw on Rurapente in some time. When the UPS truck pulls away, I pounce on the front porch, growling, covering my new motherboard with my arms lest some filthy Romulans walk by.

By this time, I’ve picked up a old used tower case from the nearby computer repair shop, and have placed my old power supply and some new SSDs in it. I don’t want to yank out all the components (water cooler, motherboard, etc) from the previous case again. That’s just pointless time and wear. Add two more (new) 256GB Kingston SSDs, new processor and RAM and …boots. Whew…

This Bird of Prey, with a Xeon E5-1650 warp core and 32GB of ECC in the front collector array is sent straight to battle against the Memtest86 monster! Latest version, all parallel, immediately. Parallel transposition patterns passes…yes, that’s the test that fails after 90 seconds on the AMD. Random patterns passes…yes, never made it this far on the AMD. Its late…time for sleep.

We come out of warp around planet Earth, having passed the Hammer row tests! This is so much better than I expected. Now I know why Intel has totally crushed it in the server space.

And Sol rises above the limb of the planet, shining its dawn light across the oceans and glaring on the view screen. Computer…half brightness. Helm, disengage warp core, one quarter impulse, take your time to dry dock. We need to swap in all the other new components and give the used bits to the kids to use for their gaming systems. Number one, arrange shore leave for the crew. I’ll be in my ready room.

Jed Reynolds
Jed Reynolds has been known to void warranties and super glue his fingers together. When he is not doing photography or fixing his bike, he can be found being a grey beard programmer analyst for Candela Technologies. Start stalking him at

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