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Stress Testing The CPU & Memory

MPrime (Prime95 for Windows and MacOS)

Prime95 is recognized universally as a de facto measure of system stability. Prime95 for Linux is called MPrime and is available in the AUR. MPrime under the torture test mode will preform a series of very CPU-intensive calculations and compare the values it gets to known good values.

Warning: Before proceeding, it is HIGHLY recommended that users have some means to monitor the CPU temperature. Packages such as Lm_sensors can do this.

To run MPrime, simply open a shell and type "mprime"

$ mprime

Note: If you are using a CPU frequency scaler such as cpufrequtils or powernowd sometimes, users need to manually set the processor to run with its highest multiplier because mprime uses a nice value that doesn't always trip the step-up in multiplier.

When the software loads, simply answer 'N' to the first question to begin the torture testing :

Main Menu

1. Test/Primenet
2. Test/Worker threads
3. Test/Status
4. Test/Continue
5. Test/Exit
6. Advanced/Test
7. Advanced/Time
8. Advanced/P-1
9. Advanced/ECM
10. Advanced/Manual Communication
11. Advanced/Unreserve Exponent
12. Advanced/Quit Gimps
13. Options/CPU
14. Options/Preferences
15. Options/Torture Test
16. Options/Benchmark
17. Help/About
18. Help/About PrimeNet Server

There are several options for the torture test (menu option 15).

  • Small FFTs (option 1) to stress the CPU (option 1)
  • In-place large FFTs (option 1) to test the CPU and memory controller
  • Blend (option 3) is the default and constitutes a hybrid mode which stresses the CPU and RAM.

Errors will be reported should they occur both to stdout and to the ~/results.txt file for review later. Many do not consider a system as 'stable' unless it can run the Large FFTs for a 24-hour period.

Here is an example of a ~/results.txt. Note that the two runs from 26-June indicate a hardware failure. In this case, it was due to insufficient vcore to the CPU :

[Sun Jun 26 20:10:35 2011]
FATAL ERROR: Rounding was 0.5, expected less than 0.4 Hardware failure detected, consult stress.txt file.
FATAL ERROR: Rounding was 0.5, expected less than 0.4 Hardware failure detected, consult stress.txt file.
[Sat Aug 20 10:50:45 2011]
Self-test 480K passed!
Self-test 480K passed!
[Sat Aug 20 11:06:02 2011]
Self-test 128K passed!
Self-test 128K passed!
[Sat Aug 20 11:22:10 2011]
Self-test 560K passed!
Self-test 560K passed!

Note: Users suspecting bad memory or memory controllers should try the blend test first as the small FFT test uses very little memory.

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Linpack makes use of the BLAS (Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms) libraries for performing basic vector and matrix operations, and is an excellent way to stress CPUs for stability. linpack is available from the AUR. After installation, users should adjust /etc/linpack.conf according to the amount of memory on the target system.


Systester (SuperPi for Windows)

Systester is available in the AUR in both cli and gui version. It tests system stability by calculating up to 128 million Pi digits and includes error checking. Note that one can select from two different calculation algorithms - Quadratic Convergence of Borwein, and Gauss-Legendre, with the latter being the method used by the popular SuperPi for Windows.

Here is a cli example using 8 threads :

$ systester-cli -gausslg 64M -threads 8

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Stress Testing The Memory

Running Memtest86+

A very good program for stress testing memory is Memtest86+. It is based on the well-known original Memtest86 written by Chris Brady. Memtest86+ is, like the original, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). No restrictions for use, private or commercial exist other than the ones mentioned in the GNU GPL.

Either download and burn the ISO to a CD and boot from it, or install memtest86+ and update GRUB, which will auto-detect the package and allow users to boot directly to it.

Tip: Allowing Memtest86+ to run for >10 cycles without error is usually sufficient.

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