Hardware Malfunction Messages

Hardware malfunction messages are another form of Stop messages. Like Stop messages, they are character-mode messages. They are caused by a hardware condition detected by the processor. The first one or two lines of the hardware malfunction message on one computer might differ from those on a different computer, even with the same failed component, depending upon the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) that is loaded at startup. However, these lines always convey the same idea, as shown in the following example:

Hardware malfunction.

Call your hardware vendor for support.

The installed HAL also determines how additional lines in each system's message differ in format and content. Therefore, before doing what the hardware malfunction message recommends, contact a support technician within your own organization to run hardware diagnostics on your computer. The information provided after the first two lines in the message helps your support technician decide which hardware diagnostics to run. For example, for ISA bus computers, this information indicates whether it is a memory-parity error or a bus-data error. On EISA computers, if the hardware problem is in an adapter, the adapter slot number on the system board is displayed.



In many situations, hardware failures first manifest themselves as Stop errors. Software using the failing hardware can detect problems because of unexpected results before the hardware itself has been identified as faulty. This is why troubleshooting many of the Stop messages includes running hardware diagnostics on the system.

Under rare circumstances, hardware malfunction messages can be generated by software bugs—specifically driver problems. For example, if a problematic driver writes to the wrong I/O port, the actual device at the targeted port might generate a hardware malfunction message. However, most errors of this sort are detected and debugged before the software is released to the public.

If you need help from outside your organization to interpret the information on the screen, contact the hardware manufacturer for your specific brand of computer, adapter, or peripheral device.