I bought 2x2GB ECC memory from a reputable dealer to upgrade my Dell Precision Workstation 370. I had 4x512MB (ECC) before and I was hoping to get 5GB by swapping two of the old 512MB DIMM's. I do have the latest BIOS revision A08. The motherboard is detected as "0M3849".
It didn't work. If I install only 2x2GB the BIOS recognizes them correctly, but my OS (Linux kernel 3.1.10) only gets 3GB usable memory. Looking at the DIMM's with "dmidecode" I see 2x2GB, but although I have installed the DIMM's correctly in order to get interleaved dual-channel mode, and the BIOS correctly reports "dual channel interleaved mode", dmidecode reports that both DIMM's are on the same channel A while channel B DIMM slots are both empty. Strange ...
Just out of curiosity I tried swapping the graphics card for a less powerful one - then Linux saw a little more: 3.3GB. That leads me to the conclusion that there is a problem with physical adress space or memory re-mapping. But there may be something more also ...
When I install 2x2GB + 2x512MB the BIOS sees and lists all four DIMM's correctly, but somehow it calculates and displays a sum of 3.5GB. Very odd ... The OS still only sees 3GB, but more strangely - the DIMM's as reported by "dmidecode" are now 2GB+1GB+512MB+0MB which is completely wrong. Maybe the BIOS mixes up the DIMM slots when reporting to the OS? Or maybe the BIOS fails to map the memory into the memory space?
Dells official webpage shows 4GB maximum RAM for this system, but the memory dealer told me that the information they got from DELL is that the system supports 8GB. I called DELL support and they confirmed that their internal information lists 8GB maximum for my service tag.
So what should I do?
Working backwards, unless you're running a 64-bit version of Windows, the OS is only going to see/use ~3.0 - 3.5 GB of RAM, no matter how much RAM is physically installed. You need the 64-bit OS to use 5 GB of RAM.
If you put the modules, one at a time, into slot 1 (closest to CPU), are they each recognized correctly in BIOS?
Always power off, unplug and press/hold power button for ~15 sec before working inside the case. And after you change the RAM in slot 1, remove the motherboard battery and press/hold power button again for ~30 sec. Then reinstall the battery (right-side-up!), reboot. See how much RAM BIOS reports for each module.
Are you sure you're installing the matched RAM pairs in the right slots? Matched slots have matching color RAM retainer clips. So each matched pair should be installed in slots with the same color clips.
Dell PCs are notoriously fussy about RAM. Even it the specs are exactly correct, it still may not work. Many people around this forum buy RAM from Crucial because they guarantee it'll work in the Dell for which they recommended it, or they will take it back...
If this answers your question, please click Yes
Forum Member since 2004
I am NOT a Dell employee
Hi, thanks for the response.
I do have 64-bit Linux installed and the processor is 64-bit. The 2x2GB are from Crucial, ordered specifically for this model. (The 2x512MB is original from Dell I think.)
I tried the procedure you suggested: all modules - when installed in DIMM slot 0 - are detected and work fine.
Just for fun I installed both 2GB DIMM's on the same memory channel A. The BIOS detects both 2GB, but reports a sum of 3GB. Weird. If I add one 512MB DIMM to a channel B slot and swith on, the result is a blank screen and the CPU fan rising up to a screaming speed.
Does anyone have evidence of a Precision 370 ever being able to take advantage of > 4GB?
Dell's manual for the 370 says it supports128-, 256-, 512-, and 1-GB RAM modules with a max of 4 GB. So that implies your 2-GB modules aren't compatible.
That might explain your problem, though sometimes the manuals may be out of date because larger RAM modules weren't available or weren't very common when the manual was written, and/or Dell hadn't tested them.
It's possible, one or both of the modules is defective, so you may want to talk to Crucial. I am surprised they would recommend modules that are larger than Dell specified in the manual. What color are the 4 diagnostic LEDs when it doesn't boot or BIOS doesn't report RAM correctly?
Try putting the 512-MB modules in channel A (matched color retainer clips) and the new, larger ones in channel B. Then remove the motherboard battery and press/hold power button for ~30 sec. Reinstall the battery and try to boot.
You also might search these forums to see if anyone has successfully reported using more than 4 GB in this model.
I pointed out to Crucial that the manual lists 4GB maximum for this model, but Crucial's support told me that they had information from Dell that up to 8GB (4x2GB) is supported. I also called Dell support and they confirmed this.
I saw two other threads describing the same problem. There was no resolution.
I believe it's a limitation of the Intel 925X Express chipset that's installed in the Precision 370. If you look at the specifications here: support.dell.com/.../findinfo.htm - you will see that it states that the address bus width is 32 bits. As we know, 32 bit systems are limited to 4GB of addressable memory. This appears to be backed up by Intel here: download.intel.com/.../30234303.pdf
So from this, I would say it's a hardware limitation rather than any software or memory problem.
John CDell | Social Outreach Services
Get Support on Twitter @DellCaresPro Download the Dell Quick Resource Locator app today to access PowerEdge support content on your mobile device! (iOS, Android, Windows)
Yes, the chipset 925X/925XE is 32-bit, but according to the datasheets it actually supports up to 8GB memory, just that only 4GB can be addressed. I don't know exactly what that means, but maybe a motherboard can have some additional feature to adress all 8GB RAM from a 64-bit processor. It sounds a bit unlikely, but it also seems unlikely that Dell support and several memory manufacturers would claim that the system can handle 8GB RAM if it doesn't.
It's very confusing - I found the datasheet that you mentioned (download.intel.com/.../30234403.pdf) and this mentions that the chipset can handle 8000MBs using double-sided DIMMs, assuming that the DIMMs are not x16 double-sided DIMMs.
However, you have the Precision 370 manual (support.dell.com/.../findinfo.htm) and another Intel .pdf file about the chipset (download.intel.com/.../30234303.pdf) contradicting this.
I've checked through all BIOS revisions and in revision A02, it mentions that this revision has updated memory initialisation. This is the only revision that mentions anything to do with memory itself as far as I can see. No mention of a BIOS update to specifically increase memory limits.
From the behaviour of your system and from other customer's experiences with this system, I would still say that this is exhibiting classic 32-bit limitation behaviour. It's the most reasonable explanation of what is occuring from the information that I can find out regarding this.
It seems to be a 32-bit limitation. But if so, Dell should correct the information that the memory supplier and Dell's phone support say they have, that the system can use 8GB. Because it can't. I guess I'll have to return the memory I bought from Crucial.
@enok71 - Do you have the latest version of BIOS (A08) installed, just in case the RAM max was increased somewhere along the line, but wasn't documented?
@John C - Thanks for your input. You obviously have more and better info than I have. But -at least- based on the manual, I was coming to the same conclusion...
Yes, it's the latest (A08).
Here is another thread about someone who really worked hard to get 4GB ram working, and failed:
I think I'm convinced now that 3.3GB is actually the limit on this system. No real point installing more than 3GB.
Hi enok71 and RoHe,
Thank you for your posts on this and I sincerely apologise for the contradicting information that you have had regarding this, enok71, which led to you buying more memory for the system. I think the main problem is that there wasn't a great deal of information available that conclusively said that the Precision 370 can have 4GB only but I'll certainly pass this on to try and stop our teams stating that this system can take 8GB of memory.
Yes, I just got an email from Crucial. They agree to take back the memory, but they write as follows:
"I'm sorry to hear that you are having issues with your memory upgrade. Before we recommend memory for a system we fully test that it can take that amount of RAM. I have looked in to this system and we have had very few returns and we have had customers report that it can take 8GB no problem."
I don't know what to believe ...
I'm skeptical Crucial has hands-on experience testing every system for its max RAM capacity. That would be an awful lot of systems to buy and test from all the OEMs.
You should believe your own tests before believing anybody else (Sorry, Crucial!)
Is it possible they just supplied defective RAM? You could ask them to swap it, but agree to take it back for a full refund, if it still doesn't work.
I returned the memory now. I don't think any of the memory was defect, I swapped DIMM's several times without effect.
I found this:
In "Table 1" it looks like 8000MB is supported, as long as the rest of the system is 64-bit. Maybe it's just a crippled BIOS which doesn't even try to set up a 64-bit address map? Or maybe it's a Linux thing - perhaps the windows driver for these chips has some way to handle the BIOS inability to set up a memory map? I guess we'll never know now ...