16 GB RAM, Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, hardware reserved

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After three years of operation, half my RAM has become "hardware reserved."

Hardware Reserved
"Memory that is reserved for use by the BIOS and some drivers for other peripherals."

2016-04-08 2212.png

System info

Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
AMD FX-8350
Northbridge	AMD RD9x0 rev. 02
Southbridge	AMD SB910/950 rev. 40
Graphic Interface	PCI-Express
PCI-E Link Width	x16
PCI-E Max Link Width	x16
Memory Type	DDR3
Memory Size	16 GBytes
Channels	Dual
Memory Frequency	669.7 MHz (3:10)

Four identical sticks, 4GB, in four slots on motherboard:

    	Memory type	DDR3
    	Module format	UDIMM
    	Manufacturer (ID)	Mushkin (7F7F7F94000000000000)
    	Size	4096 MBytes
    	Max bandwidth	PC3-10700 (667 MHz)
    	Part number	994046
    	Number of banks	8

        DMI BIOS	
    	vendor	American Megatrends Inc.
    	version	FDk
    	date	10/07/2014
    	ROM size	4096 KB

   	Name	AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series
    	Board Manufacturer	GIGABYTE Technology
    	Memory size	2 GB
    	PCI device	bus 1 (0x1), device 0 (0x0), function 0 (0x0)
    	Vendor ID	0x1002 (0x1458)
    	Model ID	0x683F (0x2260)

Windows Version	Microsoft Windows 7 (6.1) Professional 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
DirectX Version	11.0

No overclocking.

System Vendor Information -
ManufacturerGigabyte Technology Co., Ltd.
Serial NumberTo Be Filled By O.E.M.
Chassis TypeDesktop
System ModelTo be filled by O.E.M.
System Typex64-based PC
BIOS Information -
BIOS ManufacturerAmerican Megatrends Inc.
Release Date10/7/2014
BIOS VersionALASKA - 1072009
BIOS VersionBIOS Date: 10/07/14 19:47:45 Ver: 04.06.05
BIOS VersionBIOS Date: 10/07/14 19:47:45 Ver: 04.06.05
Board Product ID990FXA-UD3

Windows Information -
Windows VersionMicrosoft Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 Build 7601 64-bit
Serial Number00371-868-0000007-85339
Logged In UserCANISIUS\moleski
System Uptime0 days, 0 hrs, 22 mins, 56 secs

Processor Information -
NameManufacturer L2 Cache Ext ClockLoad
AMD FX(tm)-8350 Eight-Core Processor AuthenticAMD 8192 KB 200 MHz 2 %

Hard Drive Information -
Drive NameCapacityPartitionsStatus
MKNSSDCR480GB-DX ATA Device447 GB 2 OK
ST1000DM003-1CH162 ATA Device931 GB 1 OK
WDC WD6400AAKS-65A7B0 ATA Device596 GB 1 OK

System Memory Information -
LocationPart NumberMemory TypeCapacity
Node0_Dimm0994046 Unknown4096
Node0_Dimm1994046 Unknown4096
Node0_Dimm2994046 Unknown4096
Node0_Dimm3994046 Unknown4096
   
Total RAM: 16384 MB, 4324 MB free
Display Adapter Information -
NameVideo RAMColor DepthResolution
AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series-2048 MB321920x1080
Sound Adapter Information -
Device Name
Sound Blaster Z
Webcam 200
High Definition Audio Device
High Definition Audio Device
Look in My PC, Copyright CYBERsitter LLC/Solid Oak Software 2012


Failures

  • I have reseated all of the RAM cards. They have been in the computer for three years. I used to have 16 GB free.
  • Swapped them around.
  • Reset CMOS.
  • Re-ran assessment for "Windows Experience" (several times).
  • Total power down, cold reboot--many, many times. Make a change; reboot; check system; Google some more.
  • Tested the RAM via Windows memory diagnostics. All OK. Windows sees all 16 GB, but sets aside HALF of it for "hardware."
  • played with regedit parameter to clear page file on shutdown
  • msconfig / boot tab / checked "Maximum Memory"
This was a huge mistake! Although I saw it set to 16 GB, it in fact seems to have gone to 0. I could not boot Windows!
Solution:
- run Windows install disk
- select Repair
- CTRL SHIFT ENTER in repair mode to run command interpreter with administrative privileges
- call bcdedit to delete the truncatememory parameter: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} truncatememory
After all this, the "hardware reserved" memory went from 8 GB to 4 GB. That was an improvement. Then I tried a few more fixes, and the system reverted to 8 GB reserved and 7.96 GB free. @#$%&*!
  • Updated the BIOS.
  • Reset BIOS to "optimized" values. That is when the system shifted from 4GB to 8GB reserved. This could be a clue!
  • Reset minimum and maximum values for pagefile.
  • [N/A] Disable motherboard video in the BIOS. There is no motherboard video.
  • [N/A] Enable for "memory mapping" in the BIOS. Not an option in my BIOS.
  • [N/A] Go into the memory options and go to TRL (this setting may be in the memory timings section of the options), and change the value to +2. This allows for the DIMMS to be initialized/detected before the handoff to the OS! Not an option in my BIOS.
  • [N/A] While in memory options set the CHSTRAP or MCHSTRAP to "DRAM RATIO". Not an option in my BIOS.
  • Updated motherboard device drivers.
  • Enabled X.M.P. Profile1. Disabled it again.
  • RAMMap--only maps the @#$%&*! 8 GB accessible to the operating system. It doesn't say who has got hold of the "hardware reserved" memory. Meminfo has the same limitation.
  • [N/A] "Disable AMD turbo core." Couldn't find precisely that setting. I enabled some "high performance" option for the fun of it. No change. I did disable a setting that sounded like a core accelerator. No change.
  • Removed old CMOS battery. Waited 10 minutes. Shorted "clear CMOS" pins. Installed new battery. Accepted default "optimized" BIOS settings and rebooted. No joy. I should have known it wasn't the battery. If the battery HAD died, then I would have gotten the basic startup screen from the BIOS asking me to confirm using optimized settings and boot or reboot. Drat!
  • Tell motherboard to look for PCIE first during bootup. Doesn't seem to be an option. No onboard graphics.
  • Use bcdedit to set truncatememory to 16 GB?
16 * 1073741824 = 17179869184 = 0x400000000
bcdedit /set {current} truncatememory 0x400000000
  • Reverted BIOS to previous version (FD beta to FC).
Available memory rose to 12 GB--but subsided to 7.96 after a few more boot cycles.
  • Updated Mushkin SSD firmware. No change in "hardware reserved."
  • CTRL-F1 to find hidden BIOS settings failed. Just brought up help screen.
  • "Slow down the RAM speed."
I changed RAM speed from auto to a manual setting that matched what the system detected. I got 4 GB back again--until I installed a utility and rebooted.
@#$%&*!
Tried it again after clearing CMOS totally and installing new battery. Did not get 4 GB back.
@#$%&*!
  • Looked for bent CPU pin. I haven't touched the CPU in three years. I can't see how any of the pins would have gotten bent in that time. It's a "zero-insertion force" connector. HOWEVER, the goop I put on the heat sink melted and ran all over the place. It was on a lot of pins. I cleaned them as best I could, reinserted the CPU, and was able to reboot. But that was quite a mess!
  • Moved all four sticks of RAM to new locations.
  • Tried some more recommended BIOS tweaks: disabled bootup splash screen, but didn't get any tracing of the POST; disabled Legacy USB support; and turned on XMD. Epic fail.

Not done

  • Try a different graphics card?
  • Sound card?
  • Blame MicroSoft and quit trying to reclaim my memory?
  • Persuade Gigabyte to release a new version of the BIOS for my motherboard. Fat chance.
  • Double my RAM. MicroSoft will still take at least half of it, but I'll be back to where I started. $132 plus shipping.

Changes made over the years

  • Different sound card.
  • Different graphics card.
  • Added second monitor.
In theory, I could take these out and start over. "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is" (Yogi Berra).

Wild Amateurish Guess

My system used to work fine.

I think MicroSoft changed the operating system.

I don't think I can fix what they broke.

MicroSoft blames Gigabyte.

Gigabyte blames MicroSoft.

Meanwhile, I ain't got no satisfaction.

Momentary success

  • Cold boots seem to help.
Yesterday and today, I powered the computer down completely overnight.
Both morning boots went well--I got back 4 GB from the RAM thief, which is sufficient for my purposes.

Mission accomplished?

2016-04-20 1822 hardware reserved fixed.png

  • Cleaned thermal grease off CPU and cooler (I had used WAY too much when I assembled the machine in 2013).
  • Removed and cleaned RAM contacts with isopropyl alcohol (99% pure denatured alcohol).

Now: 40 MB RAM reserved, close to 16GB available for the system.

I'm writing this after the first boot.

Things could change.

But this is encouraging!


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