Apple (Informally) Acknowledges RAM Problem With Firmware Update [Updated]

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Apple probably had good intentions. Prior to delivering Mac OS X 10.0 to the (early adopter) masses on Saturday, a new firmware update was made available some time Friday. It had the promise of better performance with Mac OS X, so many decided to apply the update before their new OS arrived. Potentially a big mistake, as highlighted in a recent article.

Since the affected systems in The Mac Observer Labs were a Power Mac G4 and a PowerBook G3 (FireWire), we decided to visit these discussion areas at Apple. Along with complaints from users, starting that fateful Friday night, we eventually saw some responses from Apple, which indicate that they are aware of the issues.

Here are some important quotes from the Apple discussion areas (look for the cool Apple icon/logo next to official responses):

PowerBook Forum

"We are continuing to investigate reports that some third-party memory modules are not recognized following the 4.1.7 and 4.1.8 firmware updates."
(Gayle, posted Tuesday 3/27)

You can also view the discussion thread.

Power Mac Forum

"We are continuing to investigate reports that some third-party memory modules are not recognized following the 4.1.7 and 4.1.8 firmware updates.

As part of this investigation, it will be very helpful if we can obtain some information from affected systems. Specifically we need:

  • Apple System Profiler reports for affected computers.

  • Specific information about the third-party RAM -Vendor(s) -Identifying numbers on memory (usually on a small label)

  • List any things you have attempted in order to resolve this

  • Did you get the "Firmware update was successful message"?

    Please post this information to the Public folder of an iTools iDisk along with the URL or Mac.com account name (this is your Mac.com email address).

    If you are not comfortable posting your address publicly, please let us know that. "
    (Todd, posted Tuesday 3/27)

  • You can also view the discussion thread.

    Regarding actual RAM, we did some research regarding one of our affected PowerBook (FireWire) machines, as well. There are two chips in there: a 256MB stick from Memory To Go in the bottom slot, and a 128MB stick from Ramjet in the top slot. The 256 MB stick was fine, the 128 MB unit was not. We spoke with the folks at Ramjet at length, and they indicated that our chip was one of only FOUR that they had experienced that had problems with the update. All of their RAM in-house tested properly, but 3 other customers also had these issues. Of the four of us who called, all four have been shipped replacement RAM that has been tested for compliance. Ramjet checked lot numbers, chip-manufacture dates, and the like from all 4 of the bad chips, and nothing matches up. Their speculation (and they canit test it yet because they havenit received any of the "bad" chips back) is that each of these four chips has failed in some way (power spike, mis-handling by user, etc.) and that the new Firmware update is less tolerant of these problems. We should know more in a few days as this "bad" RAM gets back to the manufacturers and they can test it for certain.

    Weill keep you posted.

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