HOW TO INSTALL AND TEST MEMORY
(System Speed Test v4.78 is great)
"UBCD 2.1 2004 - Added System Speed Test 32 Ver 4.78. Thanks to Igor Schein for the suggestion."
Do not try to just put memory in a computer and hope everything will be fine!
Get a current copy of Memtest86. (I use Memtest86+ v2.11 which is included in UBCD50B12. Memtest86 can be run from CD or floppy disk.)
If old memory is already installed, test that first, to get a feel for things, and write down the speeds.
Disconnect the hard drive before installing new memory. Don't risk your installed working OS. Run Memtest86 on the new memory at least overnight -- the longer the better.
Make absolutely sure that the memory is running perfectly before reconnecting the hard drive. If in doubt, boot and play with some Linux LiveCDs before reconnecting the hard drive.
You not only want the memory to run perfectly -- you may also want it to run as fast as possible. This can get extremely complex, with various BIOS settings, different CL (CAS Latency) numbers, matched pairs for dual channel, etc. The key thing is, do all your messing around with the hard drive disconnected. Whenever you are done or give up on trying to achieve perfection. then test with Memtest86 very thoroughly before reconnecting the hard drive.
CPU-Z is a wonderful tool for getting RAM SPD parameters and the timings of the CPU and RAM. Unfortunately, it only runs inside full Windows, which is very inconvenient when you are testing memory hardware. Everest Home and SiSoft Sandra are great free tools for getting memory performance speeds, but need to be installed and run inside Windows.
Memtest86 is a great tool for testing memory for errors, but it does not currently give you access to SPD data in a usable fashion, and the speed measurements are very crude. Timing a complete pass is your best bet for relative speed measurements, but even that is a hassle.
What we need is a powerful tool to measure RAM performance, that can be started easily directly from CD or floppy. Such a tool does exist: System Speed Test 32 v4.78 by Vladimir Afanasiev. It is included in UBCD. This hidden gem was written by a Russian, and is not well documented in English. When the program is started, it displays some basic system speed measurements and then does extensive RAM tests, while it draws pretty graphs. Unfortunately, they are rather small. It is possible to save the screen as a PCX file, but there does not seem to be a convenient way to really blow these graphs up and compare them with each other in a useful way. Still, we can get very important numeric data.
"Memory Bandwidth MB/s" is displayed when the program starts. This is a crude speed measurement, comparable to the MB/s that Memtest86 gives. SST also quickly gives a "Processor benchmark" number, but it is not clear what this means. The really important numbers are only available after is does extensive read/write tests of RAM, with a wide range of block sizes. It draws pretty graphs, and gives the average MB/s for the caches and main memory:
Testing extended memory
Results testing memory - timing MS/s
Data cache L1
Memory throughput MB/s
This "Memory throughput" is the most important number, the key thing that makes this program worth using. It is also useful to study the details that go into this average overall measurement. The keyboard letter M gives access to the SPD data. This is special, detailed specifications from the RAM modules. Type M again to get the details of the memory measurements: Read, Write, Move, and Average for each level of cache, and for the main memory -- in both plain and MMX access modes:
M to get memory info
MMX Cache/Memory Benchmark
Using these speed measurement numbers, you can make intelligent decisions about what changes make the memory run faster or slower, and by how much. A speed improvement of 30% might be worth quite a bit of trouble and expense. An improvement of 3% would not matter much. My experience so far is that a matched pair running in dual channel mode runs a lot faster, and going from PC2700 (DDR333) mode to PC3200 (DDR400) also is worthwhile. But the difference between running at CL2.5 or CL3, at the same basic clock speed, does not seem to matter much.
Although UBCD50B12 is a great package, it is not always easy to get good information about all of the included programs. SST can be used with some switches, but they are not well documented, and not easy to use with UBCD, because it just starts the program up automatically. (It would be better if UBCD had an option to stop right before starting SST, so that it could be started manually.) It is not easy to track down a good copy of the original sst478.zip package; I got it from a forum:
http://vogons.zetafleet.com/download.ph ... 9cbb8e289c
It includes SPEEDSYS.TXT help text files in English. But the RUSSIAN.TXT version has much more detail. It is worth the trouble to try to get a translation of the Russian:
http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... USSIAN.TXT
(or, even better, upload the more recent RUSSIAN.TXT in the zip package to the google translate tool, then put the translated English text file into your doc set)
So, for example:
> SPEEDSYS SP REP:TESTLOG.TXT
would start the program, Skip over the PnP device scan that sometimes hangs/freezes/crashes the program right at the beginning with the message:
"Ver 4.78 Determining system contents... Get DMI info"
and says that you want the report saved to a file called TESTLOG.TXT. This can all be quite tricky to make work under UBCD. If you make a bootable FreeDOS disk with the SPEEDSYS.EXE sst478 program on it, it all works easy and great (add your favorite little text viewer too). If you don't work with floppys much any more, this is a lot of trouble to arrange, but worth it. If you don't have any floppy drives any more, you are on your own, to try to get this to work with USB devices! (If you figure out how to make it all work, write it up and let us all know how.)
When you Esc out of the program or type R, it offers to save a report. If you specified the REP switch then it already knows what to call the file. This report file contains all the memory timing details, so you don't have to write all those numbers down. Even better, it contains much more detailed SPD data, including the serial numbers. Some of the SPD timing data seems even better than CPU-Z, more raw and real -- CPU-Z seems to do a little too much "interpretation".
You should definitely try to label the RAM sticks with CL at various speeds. And the voltage specs (still seem to need CPU-Z for that, unless you learn to read the SPD hex data from Memtest). There isn't room on a RAM stick to write all the data; too bad they never label them honestly with the actual SPD data.
The SST program also seems to be capable of testing CD and hard drives, but I have never used those functions.
It would be great if Vladimir Afanasiev either kept developing the program, and/or made the source available. He has given us all a wonderful gift, a program that runs under DOS and does good thorough memory timing and SPD data access and interpretation. It would be great to see Memtest86 get some features from SST, or maybe for the programs to merge!
The dxover home pages of the author don't seem to function now -- is the Vladimir Afanasiev still around?
6. Control keys.
R - Creating a text file a report with the name SSTREPnn.TXT
nn - serial number of the log file from 01 to 99. Available
Only after the cancellation or completion of all tests.
P - Creating a graphical report file in PCX format with the name
SSTIMGnn.PCX. Only after the cancellation or completion of
I - Retrieve information about the PCI / AGP and ISA PnP devices.
Repeated clicking on this button allows you to get some
extended information about PCI devices. Available Only
after cancellation or completion of all tests.
If your computer does not have a PCI bus and no ISA PnP devices
the proposal to press' I 'does not appear.
M - Get information about memory modules (from SPD), and (or) withdraw
tables measuring the speed of data transmission system for caching and
memory, when pressed repeatedly. Only after the abolition of
or completion of all tests.
7. PARAMETERS command line.
Application: SPEEDSYS ([<HD[drive#]> or <CD[drive#]>] [T #] [SM] [SP] [L]
[PCX: filename] [<REP:filename> or <R>] [DI13E] [DSPDR])
SP: Skip the definition of PnP devices. Implemented
in the case of hovering at the initial stage of collecting information
on the system with messages: "Determining system
contents ... ISA PnP RD port nnn "or" ... Get DMI info ".
PCX: filename: Create a graphical report file in PCX format with
given name. You can specify the path to
save a report. When you save in a certain
Catalog care must be taken, in advance of its
REP: filename: Create a text file a report with the specified name.
R: Create a text file a report with the name SSTREPnn.TXT
and exit when finished. Used for rapid
creating log file.