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Finding bad RAM via POST codes.

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    Finding bad RAM via POST codes.

    Here's a guide I found here:

    I'm including the whole text file on the insanely rare chance that it should vanish.
    I've also removed the extra text that was inserted from the original buffer capture.
    I would suggest that this be stickey'd.

    If you encounter the message "parity error" while operating your PC, a
    malfunction has occurred somewhere in the PC's memory (RAM). In many
    instances, a parity error can be traced to a defective RAM chip or one
    that is seated poorly in its socket.

    To find the cause of the parity error, turn off the PC, wait about five
    seconds, and turn it on again. After flipping the power switch on, the
    PC automatically runs a series of diagnostics which tests different
    parts of the system. If a memory problem exists, a PARITY CHECK 1 or
    PARITY CHECK 2 error message will appear. This article will help you
    interpret these error messages, isolate defective memory chips, and
    correct the situation.

    System Board Memory

    Early PCs have system boards which hold only 64K of RAM. These system
    boards have four parallel rows (or banks) of nine 16K 4116 RAM chips.
    Newer PCs and XTs with 256K system boards have four parallel rows of
    nine 64K 4164 RAM chips. In both cases, each row has eight chips for
    memory (data bits) and one for parity checking (parity bit).

    When facing the PC chassis from the front, the row of chips closest to
    the front is designated row 3, with the next row being row 2, then row
    1, and row 0 next to the expansion slots. In each row or bank, the
    chip on the extreme left, slightly separated from the data bits, is the
    parity bit chip.

    Expansion Board Memory

    The amount of memory contained on expansion boards varies widely from
    manufacturer to manufacturer. While the early expansion memory boards
    only contained 64K memory, the current standard seems to be memory
    boards in one of three configurations: 256K, 384K, or 512K. Most
    memory boards still use the 64K 4164 RAM chip, although use of the
    newer 256K 41256 RAM chip has become more prevalent as its
    availability has increased and unit cost has dropped substantially
    (from $60/chip to $7/chip during the past six months). The
    introduction of 80286-based computers like the AT has also impacted the
    popularity of mega-memory expansion cards because the 80286 can address
    up to 16 megabytes of RAM, as compared to the 1 megabyte limitation of
    8088-based PCs.

    To simplify matters, we will limit our discussion here to those
    expansion memory boards that use the 64K RAM chips. In general, these
    expansion boards comprise from four (256K) to eight (512K) parallel
    rows of nine 64K memory chips. The rows are usually arranged
    horizontally, numbered from 1 to 8, and are populated sequentially from
    right to left (row 1 is on the extreme right; row 8 on the extreme

    Memory Error Messages

    Now that you know which row is where and its "numeric" position
    indicator, you can begin to isolate which chip may be causing the
    parity error.

    If your computer has a memory problem, a memory error message will
    appear on the monitor during the start-up diagnostic (Power-On Self
    Test) or when performing system diagnostics. This memory error message
    consists of two parts: a four-digit error code followed by the numbers
    201, e.g. 3040 201; and either a PARITY CHECK 1 or PARITY CHECK 2

    A PARITY CHECK 1 message indicates that the memory error was detected
    on the system board memory; a PARITY CHECK 2 message identifies a
    memory error on a memory expansion board.

    PARITY CHECK 1 -- System Board Memory Errors

    The first number of the memory error code indicates which 64K bank of
    memory is involved. On PCs with 256K system boards, this can be rows
    0, 1, 2, or 3. On 64K system board PCs, the number 0 represents the
    entire 64K bank of 36 16K chips.

    For PCs with 64K system boards, the second digit can be 0, 4, 8, or C,
    and points to the 16K bank within the 64K which is failing; 0 is row
    0, 4 is row 1, 8 is row 2, and C is row 3. In contrast, for PCs with
    256K system boards, the second digit of the error message identifies
    the 4K page in the memory chip that is failing; this number is not
    needed to identify the problem chip and should be ignored.

    The third and fourth digits represent which bit position (or RAM chip)
    in the 64K row is causing the error condition. This number represents
    the hexadecimal address of the chip within the row.

    Table 1 provides the address for each of the chips on a 64K or 256K
    system board:

    Bank 64K 256K Parity Bit Bit Bit Bit Bit Bit Bit Bit
    Number System System Bit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    0 00 0x 00 01 02 04 08 10 20 40 80
    1 04 1x 00 01 02 04 08 10 20 40 80
    2 08 2x 00 01 02 04 08 10 20 40 80
    3 0C 3x 00 01 02 04 08 10 20 40 80

    M E M O R Y C H I P S

    F R O N T O F C O M P U T E R

    Table 1. System Board Memory Addresses.

    Using the error message example given earlier, 3040 201, we can
    quickly identify the faulty chip as the eighth chip (Bit 6) in the
    first row from the front (Bank 3) of a 256K system board.

    PARITY CHECK 2 -- Expansion Board Memory Errors

    The procedures for diagnosing errors in memory contained on expansion
    boards is similar to that used for system board memory diagnosis.

    The first number of the memory error code indicates which 64K bank of
    memory is involved. On PCs with 256K system boards, this can be row 4
    or greater; on 64K system board PCs, row 1 or greater.

    For both 64K and 256K system board PCs, the second digit is not used
    and should be ignored. The third and fourth digits contain the
    hexadecimal address (within the row) of the problem memory chip.

    Because there are numerous third-party manufacturers of expansion
    memory boards and because each manufacturer may use a different
    configuration and/or bank numbering scheme, the rules for
    identifying errant memory chip addresses for your expansion board might
    be different. You should check the documentation provided with your
    expansion board as reference for proper diagnosis of expansion board
    memory problems.

    For demonstration purposes, however, the following example uses a 384K
    memory expansion board (AST Six Pak Plus), configured with six banks of
    chips, numbered 1 to 6, from right to left.

    Table 2 provides the address for each of the chips on the expansion
    memory card. Notice that the starting address for the rows of memory
    chips is different for the 64K and 256K system boards. This is due to
    the fact that the expansion board rows begin addressing where the
    system board stops: for the 64K board, starting address is 1x; the
    starting address for the 256K system board is 4x (x can be any number).

    Bank No. 6 5 4 3 2 1

    64K System 6x 5x 4x 3x 2x 1x

    256K System 9x 8x 7x 6x 5x 4x

    Parity Bit 00 00 00 00 00 00 M

    Bit 7 80 80 80 80 80 80 E

    Bit 6 40 40 40 40 40 40 M

    Bit 5 20 20 20 20 20 20 O

    Bit 4 10 10 10 10 10 10 R

    Bit 3 08 08 08 08 08 08 Y

    Bit 2 04 04 04 04 04 04 C
    Bit 1 02 02 02 02 02 02 I
    Bit 0 01 01 01 01 01 01 S


    Table 2. Expansion Board Memory Addresses.

    Using the above table, we can see that a 7120 201 error code identifies
    the errant memory chip as the sixth chip from the bottom (Bit 5) in the
    fourth bank from the right (Bank 4) in a 256K system board machine.

    Correcting Memory Errors

    Now that we have identified the problem chip, we should verify it by
    replacing it with a spare chip and run the diagnostics again and see
    whether the error is corrected. If no spare chip is available,
    exchange the suspect chip with another one in an adjacent bank. If we
    have correctly identified the problem chip, the diagnostics will
    display a different memory code -- that of the location where we put
    the suspected chip.

    If, however, the error code continues to identify the original
    location, a problem may exist with the socket and you should contact
    your dealer for assistance.

    If the system board or expansion board switches are not set properly or
    a chip is missing, the bit position in the error code may be AA, FF,
    55, or 01. If you are experiencing problems with more than one memory
    chip, the bit position code displayed will be the sum (in Hexadecimal)
    of the problem chip locations and consequently, will not match any of
    the values in Table 1 or 2. When this happens, the resultant error
    code could be any number from FF to 00. Diagnosis of the errant chips
    will involve a trial and error process of switching several chips from
    the identified row to an adjacent row.

    Reseat Chips Before Switching

    Before switching chips in the "suspect" row, however, remove all chips
    and reseat them in their sockets. Run the diagnostics again. Because
    many parity problems are due to poor contacts between chips and
    sockets, this trick may eliminate the parity error. RAM chip failures
    are rather rare.

    The most difficult parity error or memory error to locate is one which
    occurs "intermittently". For example, heat generated by expansion
    boards, disk drives or other add-ons may cause a memory chip or some
    other memory-related component to shift sufficiently to break the
    electrical contact. You may never find this particular problem since
    the same set of conditions may not be duplicated exactly during

    A Simple, Do-It-Yourself Remedy

    What has been discussed here is a simple method to troubleshoot your
    PC. If in doubt, professional service technicians have the tools to
    diagnose memory problems instantly. But performing these simple checks
    yourself can save you money, especially if the cause is a poorly
    socketed chip.

    ================================================== ==============
    Proud owner of 80-0007 - The only one of its kind.

    Nice! It has all the related info in one place. Copied and pasted it all into a doc for my library. Thanks.


      To note. Pay attention to the early sentence, "In many instances, a parity error can be traced to a defective RAM chip or one that is seated poorly in its socket", particularly to the word "many".

      Parity errors can be caused by things other than a faulty or poorly seated RAM chip.


        I have an Intel In Board 386 which gives me a parity error when I had it connected up to a IBM 5150, without this card, there is no parity error, I haven't looked at in sometime, whether I got parity 1 or 2 - don't recall.

        But with this guide, might be a good time to give it another look over.

        Wish me luck.
        Last edited by gerrydoire; April 3, 2013, 10:13 PM.