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I don't even know how to phrase the question, so I've had very little luck with any kind of search.

Every now and then at random intervals a few times a month, I'm watching a video on the internet and there's some sort of error. Then the following happens:

  1. Apparent framerate of screen goes down to 1 frame per 10-30 seconds, and even then only rarely is the entire screen drawn. The video that "caused" the problem appears as pure green.
  2. The video's sound proceeds unimpeded. Indeed, it appears that the entire rest of the computer is proceeding as normal - I can move the mouse, close windows, open programs, and so on and things appear to happen at regular speed (as far as I can tell given the framerate).
  3. The problem persists through any attempts to fix; only known fix is a cold shutdown (i.e. holding power button until it turns off). While the reboot goes fine, all internet history for the day is erased as are many cookies. (It's possible a Ctrl+Alt+Del might fix it - that would have been the first thing I tried, but I don't remember the result, and chances are if it worked that's what I'd do as opposed to a cold shutdown.)

The only hint I have of a cause is that, once, a txt file called "hs_err_pid8340" appeared on the desktop after the reboot. It contains:

# A fatal error has been detected by the Java Runtime Environment:
#  EXCEPTION_ACCESS_VIOLATION (0xc0000005) at pc=0x77e42a7f, pid=8340, tid=7600
# JRE version: 6.0_27-b07
# Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (20.2-b06 mixed mode, sharing windows-x86 )
# Problematic frame:
# C  [ntdll.dll+0x32a7f]

Then it prints a thread trace and a bunch of other crap.

As far as I know I have the latest version of Java.

System: Asus K52Jc laptop, Windows 7, graphics card Nvidia GeForce 310M. Always using Internet Explorer 8.0.7600.16385 - since this problem cannot be intentionally reproduced, I can't really test it with other browsers.

To be honest I don't really expect to get a working answer as to what's going on and how to stop it, but any kind of help would be nice.

EDIT: Okay, I have a bit more info now:

  • Restarting the laptop appears to reset the length of time needed before the crash occurs in future. Logging off does not.
  • During the period of low framerate, not only is the screen often completely black, but it also is often completely black with the backlight turned off.
  • Tapping the power button to cause a warm shutdown seems to work properly - except that once shutdown appears to be complete, the fan starts up at incredible speed and none of the status lights (CPU, battery charge, wireless, etc) go off. I then have to do a cold shutdown from there, but there doesn't appear to be any side effects.
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