Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 11) - Resolving resource conflicts

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Resolving resource conflicts

Anyone who remembers IRQ conflicts will be thankful that current computers support ACPI BIOS. With ACPI BIOS, resources are allocated automatically by the operating system at startup, and multiple devices can share the same IRQ settings. These changes mean IRQ conflicts are largely a thing of the past. However, ACPI depends on Plug and Play, and devices that are not fully compatible can sometimes cause problems, particularly legacy ISA devices.

Check the device slot configuration

Some conflicts occur because PCI interrupts are shareable, while ISA interrupts are nonshareable. Typically, this is a BIOS problem. If a device is in a PCI slot but the slot is configured in BIOS as “reserved for ISA,” a conflict can occur. You must change the BIOS settings rather than the resource configuration to resolve the problem.

If you suspect a device conflict is causing a problem with the current device, check the Conflicting Device list in the lower portion of the Resources tab. It will either list No Conflicts or the specific source of a known conflict. In Device Manager, you can quickly check resource allocations by choosing Resources By Type or Resources By Connection on the View menu.

In Figure 15, both ISA and PCI devices are using IRQ settings. You’ll note each ISA device has a separate IRQ setting, while multiple PCI devices share the same IRQ settings. This is very typical. Note also that the PCI Modem device has a question mark as an icon. This is because the device isn’t configured properly, not because there’s a conflict. In this example, there are no conflicts.

View resources by type or resources by connection to check resource settings in Device Manager.
Figure 15. View resources by type or resources by connection to check resource settings in Device Manager.

Another way to check for conflicts is to use the System Information utility (Msinfo32.exe). In Server Manager, select System Information on the Tools menu. In System Information, expand Hardware Resources, and then select Conflicts/Sharing.

As shown in Figure 16, a list of all resources that are in use is displayed. Again, keep in mind that devices can share IRQ settings thanks to ACPI, so what you are looking for are two unrelated devices sharing the same memory addresses or I/O ports, which would cause a conflict. Keep in mind related devices can share memory addresses and I/O ports. In the example, the PCI Express Root Complex shares the same I/O port as the Direct Memory Access Controller and the Mobile Express Root Port shares the same memory addresses as the Basic Display Adapter resources. That’s okay because this is typical and not causing an issue.

Use System Information to check for resource conflicts.
Figure 16. Use System Information to check for resource conflicts.

You can try to resolve resource conflicts in several ways. Some devices use jumpers to manage resource settings, and in this case, the operating system cannot control the resource settings. To make changes, you must shut down the computer, remove the device, change the jumper settings, and then replace the device. In some cases, the jumpers are managed through software rather than an actual jumper switch. Here, you would use the device setup or configuration utility to change the resource settings.

For PCI devices, you can try swapping the cards between PCI slots. This will help if the IRQ or other resource settings are assigned on a per-slot basis, as is the case with some motherboards. You might be able to check the motherboard documentation to see which IRQ interrupts are assigned to which slots. In any case, you need to experiment to see which card configuration works.

For PCI devices, a conflict could also be caused by the device driver and the way it works with the ACPI BIOS. You should check to see whether an updated device driver and a BIOS update are available. Installing one or both should resolve the conflict.

As a last resort, you can change the resource settings manually for some devices in Device Manager. In the Resources tab, select the resource type that you want to work with. If you can make a change, you should be able to clear the Use Automatic Settings check box and then see whether any of the alternate configurations in the Setting Based On box resolve the conflict. Keep in mind that you are now manually managing the resource settings. To allow the Windows operating system again to manage the settings automatically, you must select the Use Automatic Settings check box.

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