Memory testing on Asus M5A97

Hurricane Michael touched only lightly in Northeast Florida, which was a relief after what Irma did the previous year. However, we weren’t completely unscathed. and the lights did blip and the UPS kicked in, but not soon enough. Thereafter, my desktop machine’s energy-saving modes started acting up.

This is a machine that had been swapped with a production server when it acted up there (turns out the CPU was overheating and needed some thermal paste), but it had already been diagnosed with bad RAM once, so when lesser remedies failed, I kicked the box into memtest86+.

The results were appalling. There were 2 4GB sticks and one 8GB stick in the machine and I tested them alone and in combination. The 8G stick failed outright, and the 4 GB sticks would test fine, but only one at a time. Add 2, and the machine would fail. Anything more than 4GB total in the box would blow it.

This wasn’t simply a test fail – the entire box would reboot shortly after the test started, before the CPU even hit full operating temperature. I feared the worst and bought another motherboard and more RAM.

When that came in, I tested it. And got the exact same results. The new motherboard rebooted. And the new memory sticks were both 8GB, and they both caused reboots. Anything more than 4 GB would fail on either motherboard.

Such consistency leaves only one other failure point and that’s the venerable memtest86+ test program itself. Not something that you’d usually expect to fail so catastrophically, especially since the latest Fedora release was installed, but I’d tweaked the daylights out of the the BIOS (including manually setting RAM timings), and no luck. And, incidentally, memtest86+ was displaying the wrong RAM timings.

So I did some searching for alternatives and found 2. One will run on a live Linux OS, although of course, its ability to test RAM is limited by having to work around the RAM being used by the OS and apps. The other is memtest86, which is what memtest86+ was forked from and is now available in both free and paid models.

I tried memtester, which runs under Linux, and it did flunk part of my original 8G stick. Then I tried memtest86. Unlike memtest86+, it did not spontaneously reboot. In fact, all the RAM passed!

Since memtester did claim certain bits were bad, I need to do more research, but apparently despite having been updated are recently as this past July, memtest86+ apparently lacks decent support for UEFI, DDR4 and who knows what else, making it essentially useless even for as dated a board as the M5A97. And yes, I know it’s showing its age, but it meets all the necessary criteria for my needs.

DBUnit and CSV reference data

The CSV capabilities of dbUnit are under-documented. Here’s the results of some pain, suffering and debug tracing:

The CSV files are expected to be one-per-table. The tablename is part of the filename, thus: “TABLE1.csv”. Format is the usual, with the first row containing the column names and subsequent rows containing data. It is possible to customize the delimiters and separators, but the defaults work with bog-standard CSV. One possible reason to override is to allow use with pipe-separated format files.

Here’s some code to snapshot an SQL query out to CSV for use as a later test reference (or whatever).

Connection con =
IDatabaseConnection dbUnitCon =
new DatabaseConnection(con, "MYDB");

ITable actualTable =
+ " AND INK_ID in('ABEND001', 'AAA', '07CSI')");

// Take reference snapshot:
IDataSet ds1 = new DefaultDataSet(actualTable);
CsvDataSetWriter.write(ds1, new File("/home/timh/csvdir"));

dbUnit will create csvdir, if needed and output 2 files. The SNAPTABLE.csv file and a file named “table-ordering.txt”.

To load SNAPTABLE for use in validating the results of a test:

// Load expected data from CSV dataset
CsvDataFileLoader ldr = new CsvDataFileLoader();
// NOTE: terminal "/" on URL is MANDATORY!!!
IDataSet expectedDataSet =
ITable expectedTable =

// Assert actual database table match expected table
Assertion.assertEquals(expectedTable, actualTable);

Note that while you can specify case-insensitivity on table names (it’s the default), the case of the SNAPTABLE.csv file and the SNAPTABLE entry in table-ordering.txt must match – at least on case-sensitive OS’s. And it’s good practice regardless. Also note that table-ordering.txt can contain multiple table names, one tablename per line.

Finally, note that the error exception for the comparison assert counts line numbers off by 2. It doesn’t take the column-name row into account, and it starts counting from 0, instead of the more usual case (for databases) of counting starting at 1.

important! The CSV reader is not very flexible when it comes to reading NULL values. Null fields MUST be given a value of “null”, lower case, WITHOUT surrounding quotes. Like so:

“Fred Smith”,”127.0″,null,null,”Jabber”