New iBooks have instable Airport connections when equipped with 1,5GB of RAM. The problem has been known to Apple for over a month and starts being discussed widely on the internet now. Apple just keep their mouth shut and aren’t helpful while the public discussions contain incredible amounts of noise. So I had to use an unsatisfactory but apparently working fix for the problem for the time being.
I noticed this problem very quickly after starting to use my new iBook. From my own experiences and reports I read on the internet, what you need to see the problem is:
Those are the prerequisites but the problem still has to be triggered with that setup. Usually it doesn’t appear right away, but you’ll have to use your network connection for a while. Generally, creating a lot of network traffic and using a lot of RAM seems to trigger the problem. So launching many applications and starting a BitTorrent download usually is a good way to see the problem. Where ‘the problem’ is:
kernel_taskprocess using a lot of processing time – between 10 and 50 per cent in my observations,
If you don’t need your Airport connection at this stage, you can just turn Airport off and mouse movements will be smooth again while Airport is off. If, however, you need your Airport connection the only option you seem to have is restarting the computer. Which, of course, is both time consuming and annoying. (Where I keep thinking that the system restart isn’t the big time problem but those slow application launch times are a real bugger.) And, which by Murphy’s law keeps happening in situations where you need to get things done quickly.
That’s the problem. So what to about it? I tried searching Google to find other reports of the problem as well as potential fixes, writing a blog entry to get further feedback and potential hints and, of course, filing a bug report with Apple (#4245181). All of that is more than six weeks ago. And while there seems to be some movement on the issue, it didn’t help too much at the end of the day.
While the problem is widely discussed on the internet by now, e.g. at Apple’s support forums or the Ars Technica forums and, in fact, many more big Mac web sites, the number of reasonable reports of or even solutions for the problem on those sites is minimal.
The one at Ars Technica at least seems to have focused moderators and most others seem to suffer from an excess off dribble. People describe all sorts of problems, people discuss different BitTorrent clients, people write about hardware or heat issues.
And, worst of all, in most cases people use rhetorics which suggest that everything they say is well founded. But in fact statements like
the Airport connection breaks down because the new integrated Airport hardware overheats when there is too much network traffic usually don’t mean that the person writing it has any idea about what is going wrong and why it is going wrong. Instead they most likely mean something like
my iBook was kind of warm when I saw the problem and I read somewhere about the Airport chipset now being integrated on the main board.
Noise. Not very helpful. I know why I mostly avoided message boards so far. And I don’t envy the people who have to deal with such reports. But I am even more sorry for myself, as those are probably part of the reason for everybody else not being able to get any reasonable support.
While people in the forums may have this partial responsibility for Apple’s bad support, at the end of the day Apple themselves are running the support and they are responsible for its quality. And from what I can tell it’s painful in the U.S. and hopeless in Europe. Sure, people at the support lines are friendly. And they can handle trivial and frequent problems like replacing broken iPods or iBooks. But non-trivial problems mean that the person you’re speaking with won’t know what you’re talking about and won’t make an effort to help you. They’ll happily take your details and let you send in the computer but it remains a matter of luck whether they’ll actually help you.
Apparently, if you bug them for long enough and play their stupid
do this and
check that games until the end, you might be
elevated to some mysterious higher levels of support where people actually understand what you’re talking about. But it seems like you have waste a lot of time on the phone before you get there. And that’s not service. Apple’s support people have wasted too much of my time and lied to me too often, for me to be willing to go through that. Trust is important.
In addition to the way Apple deal with their end users, it’s also remarkable to which extent they refuse to communicate with you. I filed my bug report on this problem long ago and it’s certainly an issue which is a significant problem. To be clear on this: Apple sold me a computer that is advertised as being able to handle 1,5GB of RAM and wireless network connections. I wanted to use those features and paid for them. But they don’t work. So Apple made wrong claims. While those possibly weren’t intentional, they still were considered an acceptable risk by Apple. Apple had the options of actually checking the machines and the OS before selling them. And they also had the option of stopping to claim that the machine supports 1,5GB of memory to people who buy the machines now. The bottom line is that if the problem isn’t resolved I’ll have to return the iBook and get my money back.
Of course I’m not really keen on doing this because of all the hassle and overhead going with such an action. And the same must be true for Apple. So would it be asking too much for them to at least let me (and all other affected people) know what exactly they determined to be the reason for the problem, whether they can fix it and when such a fix will be ready? I don’t think so. It would certainly make it easy for me to decide whether their solution is good enough for me and whether I can live with this. But the way things are all I can do is think they don’t care and don’t try to resolve the problem.
Luckily other people are happier to go through the pains of customer support than I am (and have the advantage of living in the U.S.). And they managed to extract a glimpse of an answer from Apple and were good enough to share it in the discussion on Apple’s support site very recently. Couldn’t Apple have made a statement along those lines instead?
The Level 2 Tech that I had previously discussed this issue with at Apple just called me back about ten minutes ago. This was a follow-up to my call to Apple support last week.
He said that this is a known bug within Apple Engineering, and it was actually a topic in their staff meeting this week. He said that the Engineering Team had been following this thread, and what he described as “an explosion of posts” about this topic here on the Apple Discussion Boards. […]
He said it’s definitely a software issue that will be addressed in an upcoming update. He wasn’t sure if it would be an Airport update or an OS update, as part of the problem had to do with how the OS is acting when a certain hardware configuration is present (namely 1.5GB of RAM). He said probably within the next couple of weeks, then backtracked and said probably even sooner than that, although officially he really couldn’t speculate too much about the timeframe, as engineering tends to be somewhat cryptic about their timeframes to release updates. […|
So with a bit of optimism we might see a solution to the problem soon. With the history of lies I received from Apple in the past, I’ll only believe it when I see it, but this answer seems to come from the U.S. and a sufficiently technical person to make me hope it’s actually good news.
The Airport problem is RAM related and removing the extra GB of RAM resolves it. But that’s a rather bad ‘solution’ as just having 512MB of RAM for Mac OS X.4 means that you’re straight in swapping hell once you do more than surfing the web and writing e-mail. Not only will the machine be significantly slower due to this but the extra hard drive activity will make it both warmer and use more energy. In addition, frequently opening and closing the iBook to remove or re-insert the extra RAM depending on whether you want speed or reliable network connectivity doesn’t sound like a viable option either.
As the problem is said to be specific to machines having more than 1GB of RAM, I kept thinking that it would be nice if you could set the machine up to just use 1GB. Unfortunately you don’t really have a good way to handle how much and which memory is used by OSX due to its fancy memory management (ironically you might have been able to just ‘block’ the problematic memory in the low-tech OS9). I kept thinking that I read something about you being able to just tell the computer at startup time how much memory it should use. But I thought it involved the beast that is Open Firmware and couldn’t really remember where I read it… but eventually a bit of Googling around revealed Apple’s technical note on
Reducing the size of physical memory in Open Firmware which not only did the trick but can even be use from a simple Terminal window.
I ran the command
sudo nvram boot-args="maxmem=1024"in the Terminal yesterday. It tells the computer to just use 1GB of the installed memory after the next restart. And sure enough, I now have a computer that has 1,5GB of physical RAM installed – as reported by System Profiler – but will just use 1GB of that RAM – as reported by Activity Monitor:
For testing, I let the computer run all night doing some BitTorrent downloads. And the network connection is still up and running. While I don’t consider this to be a final solution – I paid for a computer that can handle 1,5GB of RAM after all – it’s a viable compromise for the wait until an update that fixes the problem is available. So if you have the same problem and similar priorities for your RAM usage as I have and aren’t afraid to enter strange commands in the Terminal, you may want to give this a try. Be sure to read the tech note I linked to, though, and remember the command
sudo nvram boot-args=""that’s needed to gain access to all of the installed memory again once a fix is available.
This is a rather simple trick. Ideally, Apple would have told us that a fix for the problem is on its way and that we could make our lives more bearable with this for the time being.
It does beg the question (aside from “why is Apple incapable to acknowledge and, subsequently, fix this?”): is 1 GB the maximum that iBook is able to handle without error, or is it actually some number between 1 GB and 1.5 GB? Have you tried setting maxmem to, say, 1280? 1408, even?
I realize that’s not a real fix, but at least it brings you closer to your physical RAM. Using physical memory, the maximum usable is, naturally, 1 GB, since there are no 768 MB sticks or similar. But with this trick, maybe you can max it out a little more?
It might be worth trying that out. But I’m not keen on all that fiddling and re-starting, so I’ll leave it for others to figure the maximum number out (please share your results :)
Ah yes. I suppose it would be quite time-consuming indeed.
he apple store wont take back my ibook!! they couldnt recreate the problem in the store and I showed them the arstechnica thread and the apple support board post, what can I do?!?!?! any help is appreciated gents.
To recreate the problem it most likely helps to fill all of the RAM, i.e. by opening many applications (check Activity Monitor’s RAM usage information to see how much RAM you Are using) and generating many network connections, say by starting a BitTorrent download or so.
If they restarted the machine at the store, it seems likely that less than 1GB of memory were used right after the restart, which seems to keep the problem from happening. In addition to that, their network may not let all those connections through, so be sure to check whether network traffic is actually happening.
As you’ll have seen on those message boards without doubt, this is most likely not a hardware problem, so exchanging the iBook for a new one probably won’t do any good. Also, a fix seems to be on its way but may need some more weeks to make it to us. With that situation in mind, I provided the description above.
Thank you for this!
I’ve got exactly the same problem and was not able to figure out what kills my connection. Now I am - and you probably saved me from frustating hours in the support line, reseting firmware and creating “a clean, new user”…
I hope there is a solution soon.
Thanks for this page! I’ve the same problem with my brand new 15” powerbook.
I’ve installed 2G RAM and encountered the same problems and after search hours on the net and tried anything (change WLAN Channel, disable/enable WEP/WPA, upgrade AP firmware …) - I found your page…
I hope Apple will fix this soon because 2G Ram was one of the reasons to switch vom my 1Gig 12” powerbook.
Thanks for not only hitting the technical issue and an interim solution, but for capturing the frustration at the problem itself, the time it’s taking to address it, and even the issue of well-meaning people clouding the issue with their derivations of problems that they apply to this one. Specifically, on the Apple boards, people keep implying that they can fix the problem by reseating the RAM. I have personally confused it with another chronic issue, the LOOKUPD problem.
I’m experiencing the exact same issue with my brand new 17” PowerBook. I have 2GB of RAM from crucial.com (fantastic company to deal with and great product, by the way).
I witnessed process 0 taking 15% to 50% constantly, and running Apple’s own Airport Client Monitor showed wild swings in AirPort connectivity despite my base station being about 1 meter from my PowerBook.
I’ve now limited myself to 1GB of RAM via the nvram setting, and I’m impatiently awaiting a fix from apple…
Has anybody had a problem after doing this with their computer just spontaneously shutting down while running on battery power? In a nutshell, here’s what is happening to me:
After implementing the 1GB memory limit via terminal and running on battery power, my iBook now just shuts down completely after getting to about 50% on the battery, and then it will not restart! Press hold power button doesn’t work. Command-control-power doesn’t work. To startup again, I have to remove the battery and/or the power cable - ie remove all sources of power - then reconnect the battery and/or power cable, and then the iBook will startup again. This has now happened to me three times, running 10.4.2 and 10.4.3. Anybody else seen this behavior? I’m going to revert the memory limit back to normal and reconnect my ethernet and run on battery and see if that clears up this new problem and I will post my results on the Apple discussions thread. In the meantime, anybody else - please post on the Apple discussions thread if you are seeing this power problem after running the terminal command to limit memory to 1GB. Thanks. -Bryan
Installed 10.4.3 this morning an problem is still there … Boot with 2G Ram (15” High-Res Display Powerbook) start some RAM hungry apps (transcode a DVD …) - boom! - hope Apple will fix this soon.
I recreated the problem instantly with bit torrent but the apple store wont take it. They said apple doesnt support file sharing programs and that its illegal. I told them plenty of legal files are shared using bittorrent but the idiots wont budge! what can I do? what can we do to make apple aware of this problem?
[quote]They said apple doesnt support file sharing programs and that its illegal. [/quote]
World of Warcraft uses bittorrent for all its patch updates, so of course Apple supports file sharing programs such as bittorrent.
I wan’t aware of this problem last week when I purchased my new 12” iBook with 1.5 GB RAM. Sure enough, while playing with it the first day my airport speed dropped to nothing while sitting 2 feet from the base station. Twice it dropped altogether requiring a reboot.
Not knowing others were having this problem I went to BestBuy and purchased a higher gain antenna for my wireless router. That fixed the problem. Since then I’ve had no aiport issues. However, I’ve only connected via airport at home where I have the higher gain antennas.
are you sure you’ve ‘solved’ the problem this way? Did you actually test it in the situation described above, i.e. using all of the RAM and putting on a non-trivial network load? Somehow, I doubt that. Better keep the receipt for that extra antenna so you can return it when it turns out to be useless.
I listen to a 128kbps iTunes radio stream the entire time I’m online and frequently upload and download large files for hours at a time without incident. And that was before the 10.4.3 update.
As for CPU/RAM load, I usually have Safari, iTunes, iChat, X11 with several remote xterms, and XCode/IB open. Does that count?
at times iBooks with 1,5GB of memory would work nicely for hours before things go wrong. To see how much memory you are using, use Activity Monitor to check that you are using all of the installed memory, i.e. that there is no (or only very little) ‘free’ memory left. From the applications you describe, I suppose you should be using plenty but it’d good to check.
My impression of the network problems is that they are triggered by many connections being established at the same time, rather than a lot of data throughput. Personally I’ve been able to reproduce the problem reliably by starting some BitTorrent downloads.
Apple just released an Airport Update available via Software Update that seems to fix the problem. Yay!
Yes, saw it also - Does it fix the problems? Anyone tested yet?
Nothing bad happened while the iBook ran all night. While I hadn’t had time to test this properly yet, it’s looking pretty good.
Running 10.4.3 with yesterdays Aiportupdate on my PB with 2G Ram no problems for now… Looks like problem is fixed now.
I installed Airportupdate on my Ibook g4 with 1,5 Gb memery inside. The problem with airport seems to be solved. No more failures anymore.
How long does the machine have to be running in order for it to exhibit this >1GB issue?
I’ve got a new 17in PB with 1.5GB RAM and I’m running 10.4.3 and the latest Airport update and I can’t reproduce this issue.
I’ve been running Ableton Live playing a 6-track song, quicktime, bittorrent running 6 downloads in parallel, eclipse, safari, firefox etc for 20 minutes now, utilization is about 1.3GB, and I still have airport connectivity.
The CPU is working hard but managing to play the ableton track without dropping a beat, and sort of skipping thru the quicktime I’m playing, but seems to be ok.
plaze forword your ram problem (book) my mail id my mail di is (email@example.com)
I have a 12” powerbook (768MB RAM) that I have had for about 2yrs all of a sudden my internet connection has been running slow, none of my other computers on the network have this problem. I have checked activity monitor and it appears that I have plenty of RAM in reserve but safari, IE, firefox all have a hard time loading pages. I have looked all over the internet for threads but could not find anything. Any ideas?
I have similar problems, but I only have 1 GB of RAM. My problem seems to relate to the one described by Nic.
Other people having same issues as described here ?
excellent artical!! i have been looking for a solution to this freakin problem for 3 weeks! i purchased a new 17 powerbook and upgraded the ram to 2Gb. i noticed the jumpy mouse and the airport signal strenght the second day i had it. I reinstalled the os and on its first boot the jumpy mouse reared its ugly head. I was thinking my powerbook was faulty (hardware0 but it passed all hardware tests. and just now as im typing this it has started again i tur off y airport anr everthing smoothes out Kernel-task was at times using higher than 90% of the cpu. Thank you very much for this artical. Im hoping for a solution soon i have just instaled the 10.4.4 update and the problem still exists.
So has this issue been fixed? I experienced this with my new iBook g4 12 inch.
The problem disappeared for me (and all other people with similar machines I know) after installing the ‘Airport Update 2005-001’ that was released in November.
Ok it’s nice to hear that! I’ll try it out later.
I just recently purchased a 1.67 GHz 17” Poweebook /w 512MB of RAM. Last week I purchased a 1GB stick of Kingston RAM and placed it in the second slot of my powerbook. I was using AIRPORT at the times as I always use wireless interent in my house. WIthin a few minutes the computer froze. I had to reboot. I had this happen a few more times and then realized that the only new variables that was introduced to my machine was the new ram. I took the ram out and it worked fine again. I then placed the ram back in and Used TechTool Pro to perform a Memory Test which Passed. I thought that there must be something quirking with the RAM so I RMA’ed it and received another 1GB stick of KINGSON memory yesterday. I placed it in the second slot and WHAM . . same problem. I then thought that perhaps the actual slot was bad OR that the KINGSTON memory was not playing well with the Apple memory. I took out the original 512MB Memory from slot One and replaced it with my new 1GB KINGSTON MEMORY stick. I still was getting freezing. WTF?? I Did a Memory test using TechTool again and it came up fine … I then started to question the TechTool’s Memory Test Suite . .thinking it might be missing something . . I rebooted using the PB Install disk and started Apple Hardware Test (which took 30min). ALl tests including Memory passed. I then booted into single user mode and ran the memtest suite which passed as well. Not sure why I am getting the freezing but it must have something to do with the OS and ram over 512MB.
Most of the posting here deal with going over the 1gb barrier and experiencing problem BUT I am having problem with 1 single stick of 1GB Ram. I am SURE that I did not receive 2 bad sticks of ram in a row from a reputable company like KINGSTON. Any Idea’s anyone????????
James, I have the exact same problem 1.67 GHz 15″ Powerbook, did you find a remedy for our problem?
After alot of investigation I found that it was the Kingston RAM. I talked to several tech’s at Kingston and one of them told me that if the chips on the RAM Module were made by ELPIDA then there was an issue where they didn’t work well with the powerbooks. I don;t know why then they are using ELPIDA chips on modules that are specifically being marketed as Apple Memory modules. I had to RMA the RAM and they sent me a new Memory Module that did not have the ELPIDA chips on it. Everything is working good.
I have a 15 inch 1.5GHz Powerbook G4. Mine also freezes at random intervals like the ones in the posts above. Can you tell me where to get this non-ELPIDA ram?
So far… so good! Thank goodness for this thread. I bought a 15” 1.6 Ghz powerbook G4 last week and was loving it… until I installed a second stick of 1GB Ram. Once I had the machine working hard, the airport would die, the mouse would stutter, you know the routine.
It looks like the Airport software updater fixed the problem.
As for those of you wondering where to get good RAM — the first 1 GB I bought was from NewEgg, found a great deal at $70 — but it would crash after about 30-60 minutes.
These days I’m trusting macsales.com (“otherworld computing”) and I got my next RAM from them. More expensive, but seems to be working fine now. They’re super folks, very mac-savvy, tech support knows what they’re talking about usually.
Tengo una powerbook de 1.2 de 15 pulgadas, amplie la memoria ram a 2GB y ahora tengo problemas por que se cuelga. Aveces no arranca, y tengo que retirar la bateria para que inicie nuevamente. Alguien tiene una solucion para esto?
I also bought 2GB (2 X 1GB) rams with ELPIDA chips. The computer sometimes works for 3-4 hours and then it just freezes. Is there a firmware or something I could do to make these memories to work with the computer? My powerbook is a 17” 1.67Ghz.
Hi, I have been on the macsales.com website but cant see which ram does not have the ELPIDA chips - can you post a link for me please? I have a iBook G4 800 MHz. Thanks
This has been an amazing thread, I am looking to upgrade my 1.33MHz i Book with 512megs to 1G, what is the best ram to purchase? I wish I could be more of a help to the readers of this thread but unfortantly I can only ask for help….. thanks Eric G
Hello everyone, I am interested in purchasing some Kingston Ram for my Mac Pro. The prices look good, but I am not familiar with the companies reputation. Is it safe for me to get this RAM??
Please Help me. I am having an ibook issue. It is unrelated to the ram issue, but my ibook was also “born” in mid 2005. I purchased it in decemeber of 2005 and now it is dead. Apple is going to charge me 300 bucks to fix it. They think it is the logic board. I have found repeated blogs about this issue in older ibooks, but this is the only blog i could find about my aged ibook. are you having issues wiht your logic bnoard?
I was not aware of the problem the IBooks where having and it was very interesting to be educated about it by your blog. I find it strange that any computer now a days has any kind of compatibility issues with any kind of RAM. I’ve always used Kingston RAM for both my desktop as well as my two laptops and have never had any problems. I guess my situation is a bit different though as I use PC’s and not MAC’s.
@Karen: If you had been ‘educated’ by what’s written here or actually read a bit of it, you would have noticed that this was purely a software problem, totally independent of the brand of RAM used.
18 months ago I installed an additional 512MB memory (from Viking), and my Ibook worked perfectly all this time. Now I decided to increase the memory, and I replaced the 512 memory for a 1GB memory from Kingston.
I installed it with no problem, The system recognizes it, and shows a total memory of 1.5 GB (maximum allowed in this ibook)
However, after some time (2 hours- 6 hours(, the computer freezes in different ways. Sometimes it shows the “kernel panic” screen, sometimes it freezes but still can move the mouse.
The computer never froze before before installing the 1GB memory. How can I solve this “freezing”
For some reason, I should own a MAC. I have this HP mini Netbook that I owned for a month, and now it makes me want a iBook. Well I rather get a PowerBook G4, its the same thing as the iBook but a better style casing, it would be nice..
I have got the Ram of 256MB. Initially it had shown the capacity as 256 MB now it showing the capacity of ram as 196MB. Where is the problem lying i could not figure it out . Can i have help !!!!!!