Sunday, March 28, 2010

Strange quad core quirkiness

It's been only a few months since I've built my current machine. It's showing some peculiar behaviour every now and then.

More specifically, it pauses for no apparent reason then resume operation as if nothing happened. Every once in a while, it'd simply stop accepting keyboard and mouse input for a few seconds then get on with life. I'm quite sure the hardware manufacturers didn't make their hardware that way. I'm also sure the OS wasn't designed to behave this way.

Yet here I am with a computer that most certainly does something it wasn't meant to do. The greatest frustration is there's absolutely no errors generated anywhere which means, technically, it ain't a bug.

This problem even extends into VMs.

Right now, there's just two potential causes I can think of:

It's the motherboard - Either there's some strange bug in the BIOS that needs fixing, or it's a design flaw in the motherboard components. I'm already on the latest BIOS release.  Socket AM2 boards and socket AM3 CPUs don't like each other very much.

It's the kernel - The CPU scheduler may not be so friendly with quad cores. Most PCs now would probably be equipped with dual cores so maybe there's some tuning that needs doing for quad/hexa cores.

Update: A bit of searching turns up that the kernel can handle up to 4096 cores. I guess that means it's the motherboard that's under performing then, barring a bug in the kernel.
    If anybody has any ideas, I'd be glad to hear it.

    I've tried playing around with power management settings in the BIOS though there's not many of those and the pauses only happen sporadically, making it hard to pin down to any one setting. As for the kernel, I have no idea where to even begin.

    If I had to make a guess, I'd say this is the reason why ECS isn't a very popular brand.