Microsoft KB Archive/169901

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Article ID: 169901

Article Last Modified on 10/31/2006


  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q169901


On a multiprocessor computer, you may see periods where the processor usage percentage will spike to 100 percent and back to 0 percent. This spike may happen for an unspecified period of time and then it may return to normal. This spike will happen on all processors in the computer at the same time.


When Window NT queries a server for performance data, it uses a software timer that is shared among all the processors. On certain multiprocessor computers, this might report a time that is not properly synchronized with another processor. Therefore, the time counter occasionally becomes out of synch, causing the perfmon data to oscillate between a large positive and large negative number. This problem has only been seen, so far, on computers that are based on the Intel Multiprocessor Architecture.


Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in Microsoft Windows NT version 4.0. This problem was corrected in the latest Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 U.S. Service Pack. For information on obtaining the service pack, query on the following word in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (without the spaces):



For the fix to work correctly, it must be able to determine that it should use the 8254 chip to use as its base timer. On newer BIOS, there will be a table entry that the HAL will look at while initializing. On computers without a newer BIOS, you will have to add a /USE8254 to the appropriate line in the Boot.ini file.

Additional query words: peak peaks spike

Keywords: kbbug KB169901