The Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5300 series

Intel has produced the first quad-core processor known as the Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5300 series. This processor multiplies your performance, energy-efficiency, and reliability. In addition, the quad-core processors helps to decrease the total cost of ownership of a server “with lower power consumption, increased uptime, and a reduced footprint without sacrificing the record-breaking performance you expect from Intel”, according to Intel. What next? Penta-core processors? At the rate Intel is going anything is possible.

Intel claims that persons who use the Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5300 series will “experience up to 50 percent greater performance than industry-leading Dual-Core Xeon processor in the same power envelope and up to 150 percent greater performance than the competition with Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series. Translating into greater performance with less cooling challenges, these servers enable you to run more applications with a smaller footprint, giving you revolutionary ways to achieve more with less.” This amazes me because the norm is that the faster the processor is the more cooling it would need. My computer uses a 1.7 GHz AMD processor and I have to open the case at times to keep it cool! Maybe I need to get a motherboard that can take the quad-core cpu and upgrade my PC.

Intel has made processors over the years that have been quite efficient and are being used in thousands of computers all over the world. Their technology was the one that I was exposed to at the start and I am still impressed with them, though my present cpu is not Intel-based. Nonetheless, Intel’s growing hold on the processor market is underlined by the fact that they are innovative with their creations and always seem to introduce products that people will want. Not only that, the higher the technology is the better the cooling ability.

Lastly, here is what Intel has to say about itself, which is true: “Intel has revolutionized the general-purpose server, providing the performance you need to transform your data center from a support mechanism into an engine of success.” Gotta build me a quad-core server soon.

Funny Sounds Inside Your Computer

There are times when we hear ‘funnysounds in our computers. More often than not it is the sound of the various fans at work keeping components cool. The sounds are normally low decibel sounds, i.e. you barely hear them while the computer is running. If you don’t hear them any at all, they may be the ‘extra quiet’ type of fans. In any case, always check to ensure that they are in fact spinning and operational.

If, however, you realize that the sounds seem to suddenly become high pitched, i.e. louder than usual, any or all of the following could be a factor:

1. The Motherboard Fan needs to be changed
2. The Chassis Fan is defective and needs to be replaced
3. The Power Supply Fan is in need of replacing

Try to locate the source of the noise. When you discover which fan it is, try to get a replacement quickly. Improper cooling can destroy sensitive components in the PC. Read my previous post on The Burning PC which shows what can happen if improper cooling takes place and what you can do to prevent and remedy the situation.

But there are times when the fans are perfectly okay. So where could the sound be coming from? The next logical device would be the hard drive (hard disk). When a hard drive starts making out-of-the-norm loud vibrating sounds, it could be an indication that it is about to fail. To see if this is the case, perform a simple drive check. If it is defective, seek a replacement as soon as possible and also backup your data.

Power Cords

There are various types of power cords used on electrical amd electronic equipment. The end that is plugged into the surface outlet is usuall a two or three pin plug (third pin for grounding). The other end that is plugged into the equipment is also usually a two or three pin connection. Some have four or more, depending on the equipment itself. As for computers, the plug end of the power cord has three pins while the other end also has three holes.

To differentiate between the power cord used on the monitor and on the CPU, the one for the CPU is usually thicker. The general reason for this is that the CPU pulls more power than the monitor and thus the thicker cord is less likely to melt or catch afire. This is the convention that dictates the size cords used on many equipment. The more current it pulls, the thicker the power cord. This is despite the voltage used, whether 110V or 220V.

Power cords must be regularly inspected for cracks or tears. There are times when the cord might be under some level of strain which eventually leads to its deterioration over time. If at any time you notice when the power cord is moved and the equipment is on it suddenly loses power, this is a sign to change it. This is very importatnt as the shorting out of the power cord can result in fire and eventual damage to the computer.

The Burning PC – And I Don’t Mean CD/DVD

Have you ever been doing some work on your computer and then it just suddenly shut off by itself? All you see happening after is your power light blinking. What does that signify? Well, believe it or not, the Power Supply in PC’s are designed to shut your computer off if it becomes too hot. I can attest to that as it has happened to me a few times. So, you may wonder what causes that to happen, and how can it be prevented.

Believe me when I say it is no rocket science trying to figure out why the computer turns itself off – simply put, it is a failsafe, safeguard measure if you will, to prevent damage to your PC hardware. Sometimes when you put your hand on the tower of your machines it is often times hot enough to burn you! That’s what I call “The Burning PC”. The main reason why this happens, though, is more often than not poor ventilation and insufficient cooling. When the air flow through the computer is restricted or is not moving rapidly enough, the air on the inside tends to warm up pretty fast. Soon, it becomes so hot that the components on the motherboard, along with other hardware, are in jeopardy of ‘spontaneously combusting’. So, it is at this time that the thermostat of the system kicks in and decides to kill your machines power.

Modern motherboards have thermostats that sense air and component temperatues and are intrinsically connected to software that monitor these temperatures and advise the user of any possible problems. They even go as far as telling you if your CPU fan is spinning too slow, or if your Chassis fan is malfunctioning. If things become critical, then a mandatory shutdown is enforced so as to allow the computer to cool sufficiently before allowing it to be turned back on. The system is that smart! Try turning your computer back on immediately after it powers itself off due to overhearting. It ain’t gonna happen!

So now we know why it turns itself off. What can we do to prevent it from happening again?

1. Ensure proper ventilation in the room it is located in.
2. Add more cooling fans to your tower.
3. Use a monitoring software that will warn you of impending trouble.
4. Install a cooling fan on the side of your PC that you use to access the components.
5. Remove the side panel that is used to access the inside of the computer. You may even allow a standing fan to blow air directly onto the motherboard.
6. Use your computer in a room with air conditioning.
7. Do not overload your Power Supply with devices that pull too much current from it. Always try to stick within the power rating of your Power Supply. By this I mean you should not have 3 DVD players, 2 CD players, and countless other PCI devices hooked up to your machine when in fact it can only manage 1 DVD and 1 CD player. Simple logics!
8. Check the state of your cooling fans regularly. They can, and do, go bad eventually. Replace them if necessary.

Well, what a mouthful. I really hope that all this information has helped you. Just remember to keep your computer cool and it will serve you for a long time.

Common PC Problems and Their Solutions – Part 2

This is part two of how to address common PC problems and the solutions to them. In this round we will talk about problems related to the keyboard and mouse.

Now, these are two integral pieces of hardware that are used to interact with the computer. As of late, many keyboards and mouses (or is it mice?) are wireless, i.e. they use infrared technology to communicate with the computer. Let us consider the problems related to both the wired and wireless keyboards and mouses (once again, or is it mice? – the English language can be so cruel!).


No Response: First of all, check to ensure that the keyboard connection at the back of your PC is not loose or has not fallen out. If either is the case then push it back in place. Press the Caps Lock or Num Lock key to see if the LED for each lights up. If there is still no response, restart your computer. Normally, this tactic should resolve the issue.

If after restart you still have the problem, unplug the keyboard from your PC and shut down the machine. Then re-attach the keyboard to the computer and turn it on. Still no response? If your keyboard uses a Serial Port simply plug it into another Serial Port to see if the problem persists. If it is a PS2 connection, get it checked out. If all else fails, get a new keyboard or have someone check it out for you.

Sticking Keys: Pull your keyboard open and clean out the inside. Many times dirt and moisture accumulate under the keys, so a regular cleaning out under them should prevent the keys from sticking in the future, unless there has been some serious damage done to the keyboard.

Keyboard Error on Machine Bootup: Check to ensure that the keyboard is firmly connected to the port at the back of your computer.

Consistent Beep When Computer Is On: Make sure that there is nothing resting on the keys of the keyboard. A weighty object resting on any key for a prolonged period can cause the computer to start beeping.

Capital Letters Are Typed Even Though Caps Lock Is Off and I am Not Holding Down The Shift Key While Typing: I have found that this generally happens after a few successive cut and paste operations while editing a document. To remedy this problem, hold down the Right SHIFT Key and press the LEFT Mouse Button a few times. Release all keys and start typing again. Everything should be back to normal now.


No Response: First of all, check to ensure that the mouse connection at the back of your PC is not loose or has not fallen out. If either is the case then push it back in place. If there is still no respose, restart your computer. If it still does not work after restart, disconnect it from the PC while it is on and then shutdown the machine. Reconnect it to the computer and start it up.

A persistent problem would indicate a defective mouse. Seek a replacement as soon as possible.

Erratic Mouse Movements (Cursor Movement Seems Weird): This generally indicates a dirty mouse wheel (does not apply to an optical mouse). To remedy this problem, turn the mouse upside down and unscrew the area around the ball (ususally shows two arrows so you know which direction to turn it). Remove the ball and then take a flat object that is small enough to fit into the space where you took the ball from. Gently scrape off any trace of dirt on the rollers inside the mouse. Be careful not to let the dirt fall into the mouse. If this happens, flip the mouse right side up and knock it out. Then replace the ball and ball lock piece. The mouse should be fine after this.

If the problem recurrs later, repeat the steps I have just outlined.

In part 3 we will look at problems with the Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse.

Common PC Problems and Their Solutions – Part 1

At some point in time we all encounter relatively simple to resolve problems with our PC’s. That is only part of the problem. The other part is how to solve the problems themselves. Even the most computer savvy individual at one time or another faces embarassingly easy to fix problems, the solution being quite obvious.

Now, let us delve into the vault of ridiculously simple to fix ‘problems’ that many people seem to have with their computers/PC’s. In this issue, we will talk about the Speakers, Monitor, Microphone, and Auxilllary Audio (Line Out):

No Audio From Speakers: Now, this is quite common. First of all, check to ensure that your speakers are plugged into the back of the PC and in the correct port. Some computers have it color-coded purple. Others have a symbol of a musical symbol beside the correct port. If everything looks okay, check to ensure that your volume control is not turned all the way down and that it is not muted. If it is, turn it up and uncheck mute check box. If you have powered speakers, make sure that they are plugged into an outlet and that they are on and the volume turned up.

On a more complex note, there are times when the sound card may be bad. Simply buy a new one at the computer store and discard your old one. If your sound card is on-board (built onto the motherboard), ensure that it is set to ON in the BIOS settings.

No Video on Monitor: First and foremeost, ensure that the monitor is plugged in. Then check to see if it is off. If it is, turn it on. Also check to ensue that the video cable from the monitor is properly connected to the Video Card at the back of your PC. If all this has been done and it still does not come on, check to see if their is any power (electricity) in the outlet that it is plugged into. If not, find an alternate source of power.

If all else fails, your Video Card may be be faulty or your monitor may have lived its days. In either case, get a new one installed.

No Input From Microphone: Make sure it is plugged into the color-coded orange port. If it is, then check to ensure that the Microphone audio is not muted in the Volume Control panel.

No Auxillary Audio (Line Out): Make sure that audio cable is properly plugged into the Line Out Port. Some computers have a symbol of an arrow pointing away from the port with two or three brackets (to depict sound leaving the computer). Also ensure that the device that the Line Out audio is passing through is on.

We will discuss other PC problems and their solutions in Part 2.
(Image Copyright

Safe Processor (CPU) Operating Temperatures

This post is a follow up to my previous post on overclocking your processor. Many people have been asking about the safe operating temperatures for certain types of processors. Below is a list of some of them. Hope it helps!

AMD Athlon XP 1500+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 1600+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 1800+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 1900+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP 2100+ – 90°C

Athlon 64 X2 4800+ – 65°C
Athlon 64 X2 4600+ – 65°C
Athlon 64 X2 4400+ – 65°C
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ – 65°C
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ – 65°C

AMD Athlon (slot) all speeds – 70°C
AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.1Ghz+ – 95°C
AMD Athlon MP 1.33Ghz+ – 95°C
AMD Athlon XP 1.33Ghz+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP T-Bred up to 2100+ – 90°C
AMD Athlon XP T-Bred over 2100+ – 85°C
AMD Athlon XP Barton – 85°C

AMD Duron up to 1Ghz – 90°C
AMD Duron 1Ghz+ – 90°C
AMD Duron Applebred – 85°C

AMD K6/K6-2/K6-III – 70°C
AMD K6-2/K6-III (model numbers ending in X) – 65°C
AMD K6-2+/K6-III+ – 85°C

AMD Mobile Sempron 2600+ 1.6 GHz – 5-30°C
AMD Sempron 3000+ 1.8 GHz – 10-35°C

Intel Celeron 266-433Mhz – 85°C
Intel Celeron 466-533Mhz – 70°C
Intel Celeron 566-600Mhz (Coppermine) – 90°C
Intel Celeron 633-667Mhz – 82°C
Intel Celeron 700Mhz+ – 80°C

Pentium II 1st Generation – 72-75°C
Pentium II 2nd Generation 266-333MHz – 65°C
Pentium II 350-400Mhz – 75°C
Pentium II 450Mhz – 70°C

Pentium III Slot 1 500-866Mhz – 80°C
Pentium III Slot and socket 933Mhz – 75°C
Pentium III Slot 1 1Ghz – 60-70°C
Pentium III Slot 1 1.13Ghz – 62°C

Pentium IV x86 (all) – 0-60°C

Have a good one!

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Overclocking Your Processor

Many people have gone the route of overclocking their processor for faster speeds. While this practice is not uncommon, if it is not done under the right conditions it can result in your procesor suddenly quitting on you.

A major factor that affects overclocking is the operating temperature. The faster the CPU is the greater the temperature. This simply means that if one chooses to overclock a CPU, you have to ensure that you have a good air flow through your case. As a matter of fact, the size of the fan that cools the processor will have to be increased to improve cooling on the CPU. The heat sink too needs to be large enough to handle the large heat dissipation in an effective manner.

Overclocking can be done in a number of ways. For example, some people hardwire certain pins on the CPU to achieve this feat. Others use software that tweak the BIOS (usually a 15% overclock is achieved) to increase the speed. Either way, consideration has to be given to the temperatures that can reached by the CPU and steps must be taken to keep the temperature in check.

My advice: BEFORE overclocking make sure to read up on it, paying special attention to the make of the processor (AMD, Intel, etc.) and the effective operating temperatures of each. Remember that overclocking reduces the life of your processor and it can fail without any warning, especially if temperatures are not kept in check.

Which Processor is The Best?

With all the advances in technology, there are many processors around, and I mean CPU’s, that claim to be the best. Yes, the newer ones have variable ‘fast’ speeds that people go after day after so as to have the fastest machine on earth. The brands are quite vast, too:

From Intel we have:

(1) Pentium – The 80586 or P5 the Pentium is the generation above the 486 processor line.
(2) Pentium Pro – Chip designed to help speed up Windows 32-bit software
(3) Pentium with MMX – Processor with additional 57 new instructions and enhanced speed to graphics and multimedia software. MMX is now included in all Intel processors that have been released after this processor.
(4) Pentium II / III – The first of the Intel processors to include the Slot adapters. These processors were the next generations of the Intel Pentium processor.
(4) Intel Coppermine – The Socket (FC-PGA) version of the Intel Pentium III / IV.
(5) Intel Flip Chip – Another name for the Intel Coppermine.
(6) Intel Celeron – The low end Intel processors designed to help lower the prices of the computers by reducing or at first eliminating the level 2 cache.
(7) Pentium IV – The next generation of Intel processors, these processors were over 1GHz and were the FPGA processors.

The AMD processors include:

(1) AMD K6-2 – Socket 7 processor with the 3DNow! technology and first to have the 100MHz bus.
(2) AMD K6-3 – K6-2 chip with Level 2 cache memory that runs at the speed of the CPU.
(3) AMD Duron – Like the Intel Celeron the AMD Duron is an affordable solution processor allowing for the price in the overall computer to drop.
(4) AMD Athlon – AMD generation with features such as the 200MHz bus speed
(5) AMD Thunderbird – The latest AMD processor this processor is the socket version.
(6) AMD K7 – Socket A processor with speeds that go above the 1 GHz.
(7) AMD Sempron – 2400+ Thoroughbred 333MHz FSB 256KB L2 Cache Socket A Processor

Now, which one is the best, I mean in terms of the particular family – is it Intel or AMD? Everyone has there own opinion. Personally, I have worked with both, more so with AMD K7 which works well (I have no problem with it). Pentium is good too. Many people give it high ratings. What really is the difference between the two? After all, a processor is a processor, isn’t it? What is your favourite?