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Some days ago I've upgraded my machine with a new HDD - 2TB Western Digital Green series. I also planned on upgrading my RAM to 4GB (from current 3GB), and did so yesterday. But, this was not a pleasant endeavor...

After opening-up the machine I've done some cleaning-up since quite a bit of dust had accumulated. Previously I had 3GB of RAM in for slots. This was a DDR PC3200 memory, 2x1GB and 2x512MB sticks. I've removed the 2x512MB sticks, replacing them with a 2x1GB Transcend DDR PC3200 memory. After reconnecting the machine to the rest of the hardware and booting, I found to my dismay that I can see only 3GB (both in BIOS and in Gentoo)...

Of course, my first thought was that I removed the wrong modules, but after double-checking it turned out I didn't. Second try was to verify that all four modules are still working by putting two at a time (from the same manufacturer). The good thing was that all four modules seemed to work ok.

But now I was in a trouble... I thought that the modules won't work properly because of the different brands. The memories were of the same type and with same characteristics, though, so I started playing around with different layouts. None worked.

Then came the search throughout the Internet to find people with the same problem. It didn't turn much, but in one semi-related post I've noticed someone managed to have two different memories (from different manufacturers) working together after update to BIOS.

So now I set out to update my BIOS. I went to the official Gigabyte website, found the download section for my motherboard, located the BIOS updated, and started downloading... And oh boy... It was an ''exe'' file... Just great...

So now I needed to somehow flash the BIOS, and all I had was some ''exe'' file. I searched on the Internet to discover that there's some kind of built-in flasher called Q-Flash on Gigabyte motherboards. After a quick look-up, it turned out that my motherboard did support it. The blog at hand said that all that is needed is to put the new BIOS onto an USB stick, plug it in, go to Q-Flash, and flash the new BIOS from the USB.

Now, I had some trouble extracting the BIOS image itself... First I tried to unrar it (since the blog I read mentioned unrar), but it failed to unpack it or even detect it as rar archive. So... I went to my mother's machine to see what Window$ can make out of it. As it turns out, it was as 7-zip archive.... Sigh...

Back to my machine, unpacking the 7-zip exe archive, and putting it onto USB. Once done, I plugged-in the USB into my desktop machine, fired-up Q-Flash, and... Not fucking mention of USB. Only floppy. Great... I really got pissed off at this point. I think this was related somehow to the version of current BIOS. The worst part was that I have no floppy drive (hey, who needs floppy at this age and time - right? -.-).

And of course, since I figured out the unpacked files were for use with DOS-compatible operating system, I turned to FreeDOS. After some unsuccessful boots with different images on USB drive, I've finally managed to boot it. I started the flashing utility, and...

It failed... Instead it spew a whole lot of errors which I had no idea what they meant. Several searches didn't bring anything meaningful about it. I was back at square one. I was very close to getting one older machine opened-up and taking out its floppy drive. But, instead, I tried to play a bit with the options of the flashing utility. Finally I managed to flash the damn thing by using some kind of command-line option (''/A''). No idea why it worked, but it worked.

One restart later, and finally the BIOS could see all 4GB of RAM. I booted my Gentoo distro, and to my joy found it saw all 4GB (well, a bit less - 3961MB to be exact). Finally I had a working set-up, and was quite happy at that point. A bit pissed off and tired, but still happy.

Conclusion? PC interoperability my arse... 20 or 30 years of PC evolution and we still can't mix the memory modules from different manufacturers with same characteristics. Best part being that I've had the memories in dual-channel mode in distinctly marked slots (i.e. no reason they'd interfere with each-other). Oh well, if some poor soul ever runs into same problem - see if flashing new BIOS can help you (of course, don't overmix memory types is the best way to solve the issue).

Over and out.


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