PowerEdge 2800 RAM problem

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PowerEdge 2800 RAM problem

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Hello everyone:

I’m having a situation with RAM in a PowerEdge 2800 server and I’m hoping that I can get some assistance.  The server is running Windows 2000 Advanced Server, 32 bit version, originally purchased in 2005.  We had the RAM up to 4 GB – 1 GB in bank DIMM1 slots A/B, and 512 MB in DIMM2 A/B and DIMM3 A/B.  All the RAM is PC2-3200, single ranked.  The four 512 MB modules came with the server, and we purchased the additional two 1 GB modules two years ago from Dell, to bring the total RAM up to 4 GB.  It’s been running with 4 GB since then.

We decided to add more RAM to the server.  I found on the Dell website that the maximum RAM for the PE2800 is 16 GB.  Good.  So, we purchased from Dell two 4 GB dual ranked modules.  Last week, I installed the new 4 GB modules into DIMM1 A/B and moved the 1 GB modules into DIMM2 A/B.  I left DIMM3 A/B empty.  So there should be a total of 10 GB available.  Upon a restart, Windows still recognized only 4 GB RAM.  The BIOS listed the full 10 GB, but Windows only had the 4 GB.  After some research, I discovered that there is a 4 GB limit for the 32-bit version of Windows 2000 server.

We do not plan on upgrading the operating system to 64-bit, so we are stuck with only 4 GB.  Fine.  We’ll have to live with it.  This past Monday night, I opened up the server to remove the two 4 GB modules that we do not need, and replaced the RAM back to what it was before.  Same configuration as before – the 1 GB pair in DIMM1 and the 512 MB pairs in DIMM2 and DIMM3.  There should be a total of 4 GB again.  But now, both the BIOS and Windows only recognizes 2 GB.  It seems to not recognize anything in the DIMM2 and DIMM3 banks.  I played around with the slots, and found that if I put a 512 MB pair into DIMM1 with the 1 GB pair in either DIMM2 or DIMM3, the server does not boot up and beeps with the code 1-3-2, which means no memory installed.

Does this mean that the 512 MB modules are all bad?  Or did the insertion of the “extra” RAM (above the Windows 4 GB limit) make the server somehow deactivate the additional DIMM banks.  Or is the server still only looking for the 4 GB modules?

This totally baffles me as I am trying to put back the RAM that I took out just a week ago.  I don’t want to purchase any new RAM if I do not have to.  I do not even know if the server will recognize if I put new modules into the DIMM2 bank.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks.

--Andrew

Verified Answer
  • With the help of a call to Dell Support, our problem has been solved.  The NVRAM_CLR system board jumper had to be reset.  Doing this reset the motherboard, thus clearing the previous RAM amount that was installed.  We worked on the server last night afterhours, and were able to get it to recognize more RAM.  It also tested the memory and in our case, we discovered that one of the 512 MB modules must be bad.  It was causing the beeping again last night, and would never boot up if a certain pair of modules were installed.  These were the original ones that are over 4 years old so we accepted it and settled for having 3 GB recognized and available to Windows.  I will be ordering replacement modules from Dell to get us back up to the 4 GB max.  I am confident that we can add these successfully.  I do not think the DIMM3 bank was damaged, since we put the bad modules in DIMM2, and that would cause the beeping.  But in any event, once we receive the new RAM modules, we will be leaving DIMM3 empty.

    Here are the steps we did to clear the motherboard NVRAM_CLR jumper.  We used the PE2800 Installation and Troubleshooting Guide for the information about the motherboard jumpers, including photos.  This guide can be found online here: http://docs.us.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/pe2800/en/it_en/p1778aa0.htm#wp1076604

    Power down the server, unplug power cord, hold power button in for 30 seconds to clear the board capacitors.  Open server up, remove the cooling shroud and locate the NVRAM_CLR jumper near the RAM slots.  Move jumper to the non-default setting as shown in the guide.  Insert the RAM.  Plug power back in, boot into BIOS.  You should see the new amount of RAM.  Power down the server again, unplugging cord and clear the capacitors.  Open server up and move the jumper back to the default setting.  Put the cooling shroud back, close the server cover, plug power back in, boot into BIOS and see proper amount of RAM.  Then reboot into Windows and Windows should recognize the proper amount of RAM.

    This procedure may seem complicated, but it was really straight forward.  My thanks to Dell Support.

    --Andrew

All Replies
  • It kind of sounds like with the switching out of memory you may have had some damage to the dimms or possibly the dimmslot (could be as 'invisible' as a static charge).

    Member since 2003

  • With the help of a call to Dell Support, our problem has been solved.  The NVRAM_CLR system board jumper had to be reset.  Doing this reset the motherboard, thus clearing the previous RAM amount that was installed.  We worked on the server last night afterhours, and were able to get it to recognize more RAM.  It also tested the memory and in our case, we discovered that one of the 512 MB modules must be bad.  It was causing the beeping again last night, and would never boot up if a certain pair of modules were installed.  These were the original ones that are over 4 years old so we accepted it and settled for having 3 GB recognized and available to Windows.  I will be ordering replacement modules from Dell to get us back up to the 4 GB max.  I am confident that we can add these successfully.  I do not think the DIMM3 bank was damaged, since we put the bad modules in DIMM2, and that would cause the beeping.  But in any event, once we receive the new RAM modules, we will be leaving DIMM3 empty.

    Here are the steps we did to clear the motherboard NVRAM_CLR jumper.  We used the PE2800 Installation and Troubleshooting Guide for the information about the motherboard jumpers, including photos.  This guide can be found online here: http://docs.us.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/pe2800/en/it_en/p1778aa0.htm#wp1076604

    Power down the server, unplug power cord, hold power button in for 30 seconds to clear the board capacitors.  Open server up, remove the cooling shroud and locate the NVRAM_CLR jumper near the RAM slots.  Move jumper to the non-default setting as shown in the guide.  Insert the RAM.  Plug power back in, boot into BIOS.  You should see the new amount of RAM.  Power down the server again, unplugging cord and clear the capacitors.  Open server up and move the jumper back to the default setting.  Put the cooling shroud back, close the server cover, plug power back in, boot into BIOS and see proper amount of RAM.  Then reboot into Windows and Windows should recognize the proper amount of RAM.

    This procedure may seem complicated, but it was really straight forward.  My thanks to Dell Support.

    --Andrew