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I have a IBM Thinkpad T43, currently running Windows XP. Programs were crashing, XP was blue-screen-of-deathing, (more than usual) - it was basically unusable, but I couldn't get any informative error out of XP. I booted Ubuntu off a thumbdrive, which made it to the desktop, but as soon as I started to try to do anything, X segfaulted, along with several other services, followed quickly by kernel warnings and a kernel panic.

I'm currently running Memtest86+ on this machine, which is spitting out numerous errors. (16k over 3 passes, and counting) The failing areas are numerous, and look something like this:

0001055da4 - XX.X MB, etc.

The addresses that fail seem to cluster around 0-20 MB, 250MB, and, more rarely, 750MB, 1000MB, and 1200MB. However, a lot (but not all) of the failing addresses that I've seen end in XXXXXXX?da4 where the ? is a 1 or a 5.

The machine has two sticks of RAM, one 512MB, one 1024 MB, the 512MB mapped to the lower addresses, the 1024 MB stick following.

Is this indeed RAM failure, or should I consider other things before purchasing more RAM?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 22 '10 at 2:58

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3 Answers

It is likely to be a RAM/slot problem - or it the Thinkpad would be in a serious motherboard trouble.

Before to purchase the RAM, you can first try to remove the two sticks, clean the area (air pressure), clean the sticks connectors (soft paper), and reinstall them carefully in the slots, and try memtest again.

If you still have a problem, and in order to isolate the faulty stick/slot, you should try one stick only - (if the order in the slot doesn't matter, you could try both slots, one at a time).

You should be able to replace only the faulty stick.

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Sounds like memory failure to me -- all the symptoms are there. You could always try the HDD diagnostic (I believe T43 has one available in BIOS) or try running memtest with only 1 stick in at a time. I doubt both have failed but this can help you rule out other components such as the disk and the system board. If you are going to replace the RAM I'd suggest buying matching pairs as well.

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To me, T43 is old enough to get any problems.

One thing, though, is that you need to focus your energy on fixable things. The best thing you can have with this kind of memtest86 results is dust getting into the ram slots. clean it carefully with non-woven swabs with a tiny little bit of ethyl alcohol. Reseat the ram, add them in one by one and test after each addition as @John T suggested.

It is extremely uncommon that two slots of ram get bad at once. If both ramstick tests wrong in memtest86, chances are that the problem lies on the motherboard. In this case, ditch the machine and get a new one. It's not worthwhile to fix old notebooks.

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