L2 cache upgrade - how do I do it ?

  dangermouse 16:13 11 Mar 2003

I have a 200MHz Pentium running 98SE with 64MB of RAM.
When it boots up, the machine displays a summary table of the machines resources. For cache memory it says 'none'.
I ran the SiSoft Sandra system utility which advised to upgrade to 512K of L2 cache memory instead of the '64KB asynchronous write-back' external L2 cache it claims is installed.
It also advises that 'pipeline-burst cache improves performance - replace it'
I'm not sure how - or even whether - I need to do this upgrade, and I can't find L2 cache memory listed on websites of RAM suppliers such as Crucial.

Can someone please enlighten me ?


  Gongoozler 17:00 11 Mar 2003

Hi dangermouse. In my experience, level 2 cache is usually integral with the motherboard. In my old TMC Socket 7 motherboard I'm sure it was soldered into the board. If you want to add more, you need to identify what motherboard you have and check the manual to see if yours is socketed or soldered. It is quite possible that the chips used are no longer available. Unless you are having problems with your pc, I suggest that it isn't worth the bother of trying to upgrade the L2 cache.

  dangermouse 17:36 11 Mar 2003


Thanks. I haven't had the lid off the machine yet. However, it's secondhand so I don't have a manual for it or the motherboard. The Sandra utility does give a description of the motherboard type, but I'm not relying upon that as gospel.

I am having problems with the machine, in two specific areas. First, when I type text, it doesn't always appear immediately, as if the machine has to think about it for a second or two. This happens in web forms, WORD or emails, so it's not an 'echo back' kind of problem.

Secondly, I like to listen to audio on the internet such as BBC radio or audio clips from CDs when buying from online music stores. When using RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, the sound is extremely choppy and the computer grinds to a halt. This is despite having the bare minimum of options installed on each program (lowest dialup and sampling rates, etc). Paradoxically, my previous machine was only a 166MHz Pentium with 64MB running Win95, and it coped OK.

I can upgrade the standard RAM and I don't mind doing that, but from what I've read on various websites, the L2 cache memory is more readily accessible to the CPU and hence will improve performance - please correct me if I've got that bit wrong.

The machine is a Digital Venturis FX 5200.

  NT Server 18:51 11 Mar 2003

Up grading your L2 Cache will not make your computer run much faster, even if you could upgrade the cache. I think you have a program that is always running in the background that is causing your system to slow down. Do you have an anti virus program running? or some other program that starts on boot up, try disabling them one at a time and see what happens.

  dangermouse 05:58 12 Mar 2003

Apart from the normal system programs that are present at startup, the only other ones running are the VET antivirus program, plus CARPSERV which is something to do with the modem. I'm not going to disable that one because it did nasty things last time I tried it. However, I will disable VET from the startup. If that makes a difference, do you think that a simple RAM upgrade is likely to make a difference ?

  DieSse 08:52 12 Mar 2003

It may be you have L2 cache fitted, but it is disabled in the BIOS for some reason - this might expalian the odd reports about it 8and it may not!).

Go into the BIOS and check the settings for Enabled/Disabled on the cache.

More regular memory in general may help in any case, if you can get it, and fit it.

  Gongoozler 10:02 12 Mar 2003

Hi Dangermouse. A P200 shouldn't be so slow that you see a delay in typing text. L2 cache is only to speed up the processor by providing some easily accessible memory without going to the RAM and 64M RAM should be ample for such simple tasks as word processing and typing e-mails. You may find this description of cache memory useful click here. I really think that your problem is due to background tasks running. Have you checked the Startup list via Start - Run - msconfig - Startup? If all else fails, it may be time for a reformat and clean install of Windows. As the machine is secondhand it could have all kinds of clutter on the hard drive.

  Gongoozler 10:10 12 Mar 2003

Hi Dangermouse, you may find this link useful for your Venturis FX 5200.

click here

  dangermouse 08:26 13 Mar 2003


The BIOS settings do state cache enabled.


Thanks for the reference page for the Digital computer info on the Compaq website - I'm still wading through it.

I disabled the VET antivirus software in the startup sequence, but this made no discernible difference. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, the only other program running in the background is called CARPSERV which is for the modem.

I've tried disabling that damn task scheduler to see what difference that makes, but it refuses to be disabled.

Although the machine was secondhand, it was from a guy who buys up ex-office equipment, reinstalls Windows and all the other software, then sells them.
I've done the defrag procedure a few times, just to clear up any problems.

One other thing that may or may not be relevant, is that the machine appears to have been part of a network, because when clicking on Start, the first box above the Start button isn't 'Shut Down', but 'Log off' with a key symbol shown next to it. I haven't tried using this option for fear of what might happen to the machine, but I can't find anything elese on the machine that refers to a network. Unless of course this is normal for Win98 - I've only ever used a Win95 system previously.

  Gongoozler 09:50 13 Mar 2003

Hi Dangermouse. My Windows 98se system has the Log Off symbol above Shut Down on Start list, so this is probably quite normal. I'm surprisewd that you only have carpserv running in the background. I have 29 items on the Startup list in msconfig. Some of these are associated with the sound card, video card, antivirus, firewall, cdrw and MS Office. As I said, your hardware spec is not that bad. Typing lag wasn't particularly bad in the days of 10M processors, so 200M definitely shouldn't give problems. The only thing that can really give the type of trouble you are having is if the processor is working on some other task in the background.

Defrag is unlikely to have any effect because all that does is to tidy up the hard drive, and typing shouldn't require hard drive access. Windows 98 runs reasonably well on 16M ram, so that isn't likely to be a problem. L2 Cache is only likely to make any real difference if the processor is working really hard, which it isn't when you are just typing, so something else must be causing the problem.

  dangermouse 13:02 13 Mar 2003

I've just had a look at the VET website and it turns out that they have a problem in the latest release of the software that is eating up processor time click here

I've disabled the VET icon in the system tray, and things appear to be much better. Although I've yet to try anything intensive such as Windows Media or Realplayer audio, typing this entry has given no problems - no delays now.

I only have two more things to figure out with this machine.
One is that it refuses to import favourites from my old machine (a dialogue box saying 'error converting bookmarks').

The other is that despite running IE5.5SP2 on both machines, I can't right-click on a web page with this machine and get the options of 'links list' and 'images' list as I could on my previous machine. Both of them had every available WindowsUpdate installed.

Thanks to everyone for helping out with the 'slow machine' problem, and if you have any ideas on the other two, let me know !

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