Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Insidious computer hardware conspiracy ?

This is what I found on some forum on the internet:

1. Is it possible (i.e. cost-effective) to implement in the cpu some mechanism that intentionally disables it after a predetermined amount of usage?
2. Can such an implementation be made undetectible?
3. Do any cpu manufacturers actually do this?

A few months ago I wrote about some failing technology, now I got the feeling there is a conspiracy going on. After a succesfull restore of my Windows Vista OS and some radio software like WSPR, HRD, JT65HF.  And finally installing the drivers to communicate with the radio. I could not start the computer yesterday, fans were running but that was it. First I thought it was the videocard, but replacing it by a new one I already bought last year did not change anything. There were also no usual beeps from the bios and the LED which is normally blinking was not doing anything as well. So what could I do? I checked memory and all connectors, they were all ferm in place. I suspect the powersupply but what if I buy a new one and it is another problem? Well, I decided to bring it to the nearest computershop for examination so we have to wait. But now the strange thing.....a colleague from my job has exactly the same computer. He had  the same problem with the videocard in the warranty period. And believe it or not this morning I told him my computer had probabely died, he couldn't believe it as he has exactly the same problem and experience with his computer since last weekend !!!! So that's why I think this has to be a kind of insidious computer hardware conspiracy !!!

Dit is wat ik vond in een forum op het internet:

1. Is het mogelijk (kosten effectief) om in een cpu een mechanisme te maken dat deze uitschakelt na een bepaalde gebruiks tijd.
2. Kan zoiets gemaakt worden zonder dat je dit kan ontdekken
3. Zijn er cpu fabrikanten die dit doen.

Een paar maanden geleden schreef ik over wat dingen die zomaar kapot gingen, nu heb ik een gevoel dat er en samenzwering plaats vind. Mijn computer was weer terug in fabrieksstand  met Windows Vista weer helemaal fris en snel.  Diverse radiosoftware zoals HRD, WSPR en JT65HF weer geïnstalleerd en de driver voor het radiocommunicatie modem met succes een paar dagen geleden weer er op gezet. Maar helaas gisteren weigerde de computer op te starten. De ventilatoren draaien maar verder gebeurde er niets. Eerst dacht ik dat de videokaart weer problemen gaf, ik had al een nieuwe liggen maar ook deze bracht geen verandering in de zaak. Alle connectors en het geheugen nog eens aangedrukt, geen verandering. Ook de bekende bios piepjes en het LEDje achter de schakelaar deden het niet. Ik vermoed dat de voeding de geest gegeven heeft maar ja als het toch wat anders is? Wat moet ik dan met een evt. nieuwe voeding. Dus het apparaat dan toch maar voor inspectie naar de dichtstbijzijnde computerwinkel gebracht. Nou het vreemde.....een collega van het werk heeft exact dezelfde computer. Ook hij had videokaart problemen in de garantieperiode net als ik. Vanmorgen vertelde ik hem dat mijn computer vermoedelijk overleden was. Hij kon het haast niet geloven.....hij had namelijk exact hetzelfde probleem afgelopen weekend gekregen. Daarom begin ik nu in een heel geniepige computer hardware samenzwering te geloven !!!


  1. Hi Bas,

    Sometimes, but not always, what you can do in this case is to look for a small jumper on the motherboard that is usually labeled "configure" or "CLR" or says "CMOS" near it. Turn off power, move the jumper to the other position, wait 30 seconds, the move it back.

    Otherwise, who knows? ;^)

  2. Hello Bas,

    Just came upon while searching for some info on a SWL DSW transceiver I just picked up...

    Computer problems are lately (well the last decade or so!) are simpler than this.

    There are a few garanteed to fail parts of any computer (or any electronic device that has them for that matter):

    Fans and hard drives -- the bearings wear out some day.

    Electrolytic capacitors -- these can't really be called solid state since they are full of paste!

    These are the big culprit. Often they will show bulging, but many times not. Dell got into big trouble last year for telling their "customer service" people that there was no problm with their motherboards when in fact they new they were defective from the start. The major problem here is the manufacturers went from Japanese or US suppliers to Taiwanese or Chinese (can you guess why$$$?) Computers, power supplies, LCDs, TVs, Transcievers, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs, etc all use them. Heat accelerates their demise, as does quality of initial manufacture, and underspecifying voltage ratings. They can fail pretty much from a few months of use, or last for decades. Its pretty much the only reason CFLs burn out!

    I've replaced over 100 in e.g. motherboards, LCD monitors, 2M Kenwood transceivers, power supplies. If they go out without shorting (open circuit instead) you can often save the device, otherwise they often take out regulators or other components.

    If you want a reliable computer, build one up with a "high reliablilty" model. Gigibyte and Asus are some companies that make motherboards with high quality Japanese electrolytics and heavier guage pcb copper for better heat conduction. Often a boarderline bad motherboard cap can cause a difficult to diagnose (e.g. random) computer problems.

    Hope this was interesting!


    Mark - N7EKU

  3. @Paul, inderdaad verdacht. Als het alleen mijn computer betrof was dat nog tot daar aan toe. Maar 2 dezelfde computers op bijna dezelfde dag?

    @Casey, yes I believe this jumper is near the battery. I read about this but didn't try it. I removed the battery for 10 sec. to reset the bios at least I think that I have. It didn't help.

    @Mark, thanks for your interesting comment. I replaced caps in CB radios decades ago for the same reason. If this is a case of a defective motherboard I could try to inspect the caps. But I know from experience that most of the time it will not be a easy task.

    73, Bas


Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas