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BIOS Ate My Photoshop!
Old 01-10-2003, 08:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hoping to speed up my Photoshop, I just reflashed the bios on my year-old Dell, from version A02 to A09. But now a 131M tiff from my slide scanner opens in about 8 or 9 seconds, instead of the 5 seconds previously. Doing this after a fresh reboot, on a quiet system, original c: drive. Photoshop starts a lot slower too, but I didn't think to time it before.

I posted a question on the Dell BIOS forum, but was just advised that stopwatches shouldn't be used to guess disk performance -- disappointing answer. While I'm not claiming great accuracy, there's a terrible slowdown here, and test after test is consistent.

Any ideas? I guess I can always reflash to some older level, but I hate to do that. I had added a couple of PCI cards in the interim -- a firewire for the scanner and a disk controller doing udma -- but don't see a connection there. But then I really don't know how much resource allocation the bios does on a reflash.

Thanks for any ideas,

~Lynn

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Re: BIOS Ate My Photoshop!
Old 01-11-2003, 10:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Couple of silly questions...

. Did you back up your old bios? ya didn't did ya....

.Go into the bios and make sure the right hard drive controllers are set
..quite often the default is not right for the drive you are running but is a generic drive controller...ie...make sure if it is a UDMA133 drive that the UDMA133 drive controller is enabled.

If you are running XP on the Dell (odds are you are) if so Dwnld a utility to access the IDE controller Sorry, I can't remember what I used but probably there is something that will work in the Utility disk / website for your MB. look for readmes,RTFM,etc. You should then be able to determine if your HDD is indeed in PIO mode. If it is, change it to the proper ATA mode it should have. If it won't go there or goes back to PIO after a cold boot, look to see if that HDD is SL or MSTR to any ATAPI device as they can cause this. Remove the ATAPI device and try again. if it works after a cold boot you are fixed, but can't use ATAPI against your OS drive anymore. VIA's utility will run TSR and allow ATAPI to be on the same IDE port as ATA66 (I believe it is an install feature in the Autorun). Don't know about others. this is really common on Athalon slot boards running a VIA southgate.

IF that doesnt work try a search on dell for the origianl bios version and flash it...


Rick
 
 
Re: Didn\'t, but...
Old 01-11-2003, 03:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Rick,

Thanks for the response! You're right, I didn't back up my bios, but I know where to get all I need, Dell is good about that, all the old levels right there for the grabbing.

It's a Dimension 8200, the Primary MB controller has the disk -- Barracuda ATA IV -- as the Master, and there's no Slave, nothing else on that ribbon. Secondary has a coupla' ATAPI's. Bios is set to AUTO -- only choice, other than OFF.

Running XP-Pro, so's I can go to DevMgr \ IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers \ Advanced Settings and see Current Transfer Mode = Ultra DMA 5 for that device. Which sounds right. And downloading the Dell MB diagnostics, the onboard controller and Barracuda check out ok.

I have recently put a Promise PCI controller in the box to handle a WD DriveZilla, which I'm not really using yet, but what happens back on the PCI bus shouldn't affect the 400MHz FSB, right?

Maybe the best thing is to go back to an older bios level, maybe not all the way back to v02, but somewhere between 09 and 02. Thanks again for the ideas,

Lynn

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Re: BIOS Ate My Photoshop!
Old 01-11-2003, 04:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In reply to:

Any ideas? I guess I can always reflash to some older level, but I hate to do that. I had added a couple of PCI cards in the interim -- a firewire for the scanner and a disk controller doing udma -- but don't see a connection there. But then I really don't know how much resource allocation the bios does on a reflash.

[/ QUOTE ]

Those are alot of changes to be made between the flash and now. Either one of those cards could cause the slow down. You can try to reflash to A02, but that may not be the solution. I assume you upgraded to a ATA133 card from ATA100 that was integrated into the motherboard. I would uninstall the cards and use system restore in XP to go back to the state after the BIOS flash and then reflash to A02. If your performance is back to par, then try to install another card. Test, then install the next, and test again. If it's up to par then the A09 BIOS is where it is.

I personally am not using ATA133 controllers - the boost in performance isn't signifigant if, in fact, any. I'm still cruising along fine with ATA100. How much memory is in your system? Photoshop and scanners love all the memory they can handle. It may help more than having ATA133. I have 512MB of DDR266 and a 1.4GHz Athlon XP and Nikon Scan 3.1 still gives my computer a workout when processing Digital Ice≥.

-Richie
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Re: Sequence
Old 01-11-2003, 05:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Richie,

Thanks for the comments. The exact sequence of events was...
1. Added the Firewire card for the Nikon scan -- all's well.
2. Added the Promise ATA100 PCI card and the WD drive, since I wanted Photoshop's cache to run through a different controller -- all's well.
3. Flashed the system bios from A02 to A09 -- BIG slowdown on the original Barracuda, measurements just before and just after the re-flash.

I believe that actually covers the variables in the test you described. What I'm wondering is whether a new bios can allocate some obscure system resources differently, when seeing those two PCI cards present. Wouldn't actually expect that.

Maybe I should unload the cards, reflash to A02, then reflash back to A09, then reload the two cards. But on the other hand, that would take a lot of time, and I could be playing what-if's like that forever, seems more efficient to figure out what happened.

The system has a Pentium 4/1.7G cpu with 512M of rdram/rimm. Not bad, but like you say, don't fire up Nikon Scan and then open a 130M tiff for editing in Photoshop, lol. However, in this case I'm measuring on a quiet system, after a system reboot and a fresh start of Photoshop 6.

Lynn

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Re: Sequence
Old 01-11-2003, 05:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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In reply to:

But on the other hand, that would take a lot of time, and I could be playing what-if's like that forever, seems more efficient to figure out what happened.


[/ QUOTE ]

Unfortunately, that is how you would figure it out [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] It does take alot of time to troubleshoot. You may also try to take out the IDE card and put the two HDDs on the same controller card. You are correct, the swap file should be on another physical HDD. Even if it's not on another controller, it helps because the read/write heads are doing separate tasks on each HDD. Where it is really benificial is if you would put the windows and photoshop swap file on a faster HDD than the system is installed on. I would still consider increasing your RAM though. Another half gig of RAM and two more HDDs are on my list of upgrades. When I started using my Nkon 4000ED, I realized that it doesn't take a long time to fill up a 30GB drive [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]

-Richie

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Re: Didn\'t, but...
Old 01-11-2003, 07:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Lynn,

Ok what slot do you have the promise controller card on? if it isnt in slot 1...move it there...the promise seems to have a problem sharing with anything else but the video card ...... try that and let me know what happens....lol...and stop buying Dells....*g*

Athon XP 2200
Gigabyte Ga7DXR+
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2 cdrw
dvd
cdrom
GeForce 4200i


*g* I take my pcs sorta seriously can ya tell?

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Re: Progress
Old 01-12-2003, 06:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, I bit the bullet, moved the Promise ATA card to slot 1, the Firewire to slot 4, and got the same disk timings, though I'll now get better performance overall.

Then when I reflashed the Dell bios from A09 to A03 -- didn't go all the way back to A02 -- the drive timings for the Barracuda on c: went right back to their previous happy and fast state! Now, I'll try A04 next, etc., figure out the exact bios upgrade where the onboard controller goes sour.

I'm wondering whether the big WD drive would do better as a second drive with the Barracuda on the primary ribbon off the MB, despite some contention on the bus. That controller can move such a faster stream af data. May take it off the Promise card and find out.

Thanks much for sharing ideas!

Lynn
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Re: Swapping cards...
Old 01-12-2003, 06:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Rick, I moved the Firewall card for the scanner from slot 1 to 4, and the Promise from 4 to 1, per your suggestion. No effect on the onboard controller, which was still running its Barracuda like a dog, of course, but I assume that things will run better now in a mix, though not sure I'll be able to time it precisely.

Reflashing the Dell system bios from A09 back to A03 gave me the original fast timings on opening big files from the c: Barracuda in Photoshop. I wasn't going nuts -- had started to wonder, lol. Beware new bios levels, eh?

Thanks,

Lynn
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