Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

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For video editing reasons (CS4), I would to up my RAM from 2GB. A bigger
upgrade from my Core2 e6400 is out of budget, so this is a specific
motherboard+RAM question...

ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA. Manual says max RAM = 2GB (2x1GB DDR2), but manual
was written when 2GB was a large amount of RAM and the board probably wasn't
tested on more. Anyone tried this board with 4GB (2x2GB)? I already have a
non-ASRock BIOS to allow my HD4770 to run, so any thoughts on the above RAM
upgrade? Another BIOS Update perhaps? Impossible due to chipset limitation?

Google obviously returns various results, such as the below article on
TomsHardware, but I want to hear from 'real people' with experience!


BTW, I am aware of the WinXP x86 4GB limit and only 'seeing' around 3GB etc,
but for my video editing, 3GB is better than 2GB


Re: Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

GT wrote:
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Your motherboard is very similar to mine (retired). I used the SATA2 version,
which has a VT8237S Southbridge, for about five months or so. It's possible
they're using the same Northbridge (PT880 Ultra).



Now, when I researched this, the story on the VIA web site seemed to be,
that 2GB was the limit. At the time, DDR2 was pretty well at its lowest
price point, so purely for fun, I bought a 2x2GB kit. I tried 1GB+2GB and
2GB+2GB DDR2 on my board. Both configurations work, that's the good news.
The bad news was, I was getting memory errors. No amount of adjusting
first level adjustments (tRAS, tRCD, that kind of thing) would fix it.
I suspect one of the lower level adjustments might have fixed it, but I
went back to my 2x1GB config. For me, the 2x1GB config was rock solid,
at DDR2-533 CAS3. The DDR2 was showing fewer random errors, than my
previous DDR400 motherboards.

The experience on some other chipsets back in those days, was
that there was a subtle difference between 1GB and 2GB memory modules.
The BIOS needed some kind of "tuning", to make them work well.

And Asrock is not known for responsible BIOS updating. There
is no reason for them to add 2GB module support, in terms of
tuning. Because their motherboard adverts are in line with the
VIA stated 2x1GB limit.

For my board, I ended up using a hacked BIOS from a German site.
All of that stuff seems to have been removed, so the era of
easy fixes is now over. If you do decide to buy a 2x2GB kit,
yes, it might work. But will it work well ? Maybe not well
enough to keep it installed.

In a way, it's rather sad. The hardware on the motherboard, is
pretty decent for the price (mine was ~$65). It's the BIOS
that sucks. Virtually everything wrong with the board to date,
could be traced to the BIOS. The reason I had to ditch the board,
is the BIOS freaks out when it detected a WinTV card with
BT878, so the motherboard had to go. (All the disk interfaces
slow down, due to some kind of bus arbitration adjustment that
sucks all the life out of the busses. I'm not putting up with
that, so I had to get another motherboard.)

For me, it was pretty close to an ideal motherboard. It had four
PCI slots, which is one thing I was after at the time. And I was
able to use my old AGP video card, which was another plus. It
made for a cheap incremental upgrade.


Re: Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

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Yes, that's the one - VT 880 ultra.

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I'm already using that BIOS update - need it for the newer PCIx ATI HD
cards - I tried the 4650, 4670. Neither worked. I now have an HD 4770 and
its working only due to an extra BIOS setting [PCIE Downstream Pipeline] in
the 3rd party bios. I contacted ASRock and they actualyl emailed me a newer
BIOS than they have for download on their site, so I still have that saved,
although I'm not using it right now.

Do you know what lower level adjustments I might need to look for? I might
email ASRock again and ask if there is another BIOS update that includes
whatever settings you can remember!?

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Re: Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

GT wrote:

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OK, I got lucky. I thought they got rid of those BIOS updates.

Here is where you can get the latest hacked BIOS.


I got there, from this page.


List of fixes.

Datiert auf den 18.06.2009
4CoreDual-VSTA BIOS L2.39 REV:a
- Add support für HD 4350, HD 4550, HD 46x0, 47X0 and HD 48X0
- Add support for E-0/R-0 Wolfdale CPU (E7600, Pentium E6300 supported!)
- Support 4 GB DDR2 (~ 3,3 GB useable)
- Enhanced Speedfancontrol for PWM-Fans
- Support Enahnced Halt State, SpeedStep and Thermal Throttling
- Instant Boot Support
- Logitech Illuminated keyboard fix

So it looks like the hacked BIOS is an ingredient, and
possibly the skew control on a separate BIOS page, is
part of that. All I can remember, is the granularity of
those settings, dissuaded me from testing it.

And Asrock isn't going to know anything about the hacked BIOS :-)

This is using your motherboard, with an earlier hacked BIOS.


And this is a screenshot of it running 4GB memory.


So it can work. But the thing is, more people than just
me, had problems with stability.


Re: Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

Does someone know if this hacked bios supports E3300 dual-core Celeron
on Core 2 architecture ? I'm using official 2.30 bios version and I have
a problem with this processor. It looks like SpeedStep mechanism is
locked at its lowest setting and frequency is 1.2 Ghz instead of 2.5 Ghz
even when both cores are fully loaded :( Mainboard doesn't recognize the
processor so it's probably not fully compatible with it. I wonder if
this bios can fix it.

Re: Ram limit on motherboard ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA

merlin_pl wrote:
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You try the hacked BIOS at your own risk. (It doesn't come with
tech support like an official BIOS. You have to search the forum,
to see if any new processors might be supported.) In my case,
I didn't care if my $65 motherboard stopped working, so I installed
it anyway, and was happy that I did. I got a working
SpeedStep from it. The official BIOS had SpeedStep disabled
and the high multiplier was used at all times.

As long as the BIOS chip is socketed, you can get a BIOS chip programmed
to your specifications at this site. But this is a pretty expensive
solution, compared to the price of the motherboard itself.
You would use this site, if your BIOS flash fails and the
motherboard is dead.


They don't have replacement chips for all motherboards. Only
the older ones, still using things like 32 PLCC. A lot of
boards now use serial flash, and those are soldered to the
motherboard. As long as the chip is socketed, and is something
like a 32 lead PLCC, chances are it can be replaced if the
BIOS flash goes bad.

If you can find a local computer shop with an EEPROM programmer,
blank EEPROM chips, like a 32 PLCC, only cost $3-$4 or so, when
you can find the right part number. The blank chip itself is
not expensive. As long as you have access to a way to flash
a blank chip, then recovering from a bad flash is easy. If
you can't find an EEPROM programmer where you live, then badflash.com
is one example of a solution.


For example, where I used to work, we had a very nice EEPROM
programmer. But I never used it for home projects (never needed to).
I burned about 100 chips on that machine, flawless each time.
I got lots of practice pulling those stupid PLCC chips out
of the socket :-) Most of the time, I didn't even have a proper
chip puller.


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