Saturday, August 30, 2008

The "joys" of technology

Oh yes, technology can be so "fun" at times, it just makes my mouth hurt to smile to much.........NOT!!

Okay, here's the condensed version of the problem and what I found to be the solution in my case. I'm posting this here in case anyone else runs into a similar issue, but I can't promise that the same solution will work for you.

I had to re-install Windows a few weeks ago (long story behind THAT bit of "fun"), and for the most part things were humming along just fine as I gradually re-installed stuff. However, somewhere in the past week -- maybe a little more -- I noticed that the system performance would occasionally take a big hit...and stay hit. Looking at the Windows Task Manager, I saw that the CPU usage meter was hovering up around 75% or so, even though the main view showed that the System Idle process was the one supposedly taking up 99% of the CPU. In short, there was clearly something very un-idle cranking away, but Task Manager wouldn't show it to me.

After a number of Google searches, I came across a site that recommended using a little-known program called Windows Process Explorer to take a deeper look at system processes. The moment I ran it, I immediately saw the problem. Apparently that 75% of the CPU time was being taken up by hardware interrupts. More Googling led me to a number of possible solutions to that particular problem, but most of them didn't help. However, I finally stumbled across a comment in an NVIDIA forum thread about NVIDIA IDE drivers sometimes causing problems (apparently they're optional drivers, and sometimes have a hard time operating properly when the computer comes out of sleep mode, which I use a LOT as an alternative to fully shutting down). I dug into the Device Manager and found an entry under IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers named "NVIDIA MCP51 Serial ATA Controller". I right-clicked on it, chose "Disable," and immediately the CPU meter in Windows Task Manager dropped to near zero. Woohoo!

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