Macintosh uncommanded power downs (computer crash requireing Systems Management Controller reset)

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According to Apple Engineers, Bridge CC is causing my 27" iMac (Intel i7 Quad core; 3.4 Ghz clock; 32 Gb RAM) to power down uncommanded. This has been happening since 9/5/2014. I think it is a hardware problem they say it is software.
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Gary Magdalik

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Posted 4 years ago

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Chris Cox

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Applications cannot cause a machine to shutdown, reboot, or freeze under modern OSes. Only OS bugs, low level driver bugs, or faulty hardware can cause that. Any hardware or software engineer would know this.

Did you speak to someone at the Apple store who claimed to be an engineer? They should be reported to the store manager for attempting to mislead the customers. (for verification, the manager can contact the actual hardware engineers at Apple... most of whom know me)

The most common cause of shutdowns that we know of is faulty RAM, followed by faulty VRAM and faulty power supplies. We have seen a few odd cases caused by bad GPUs, bad CPUs, and bad motherboards (happens often on Windows, less on Macintosh). In some cases a bad USB or other connected device can cause the power supply to do a safety shutdown as well (but that is usually immediate upon connection or use, not so random).
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Gary Magdalik

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Actually from an Apple Engineer via a Senior Advisor. this has been gong on since 9/5/2014. When it started, the iMac had less than 100 hours working time on it. I have the exact same s/w on my 24" iMac including OS X 10.9.5. I agree with you re it being the RAM or possibly a bad capacitor on the logic board. However Apple is spending a lot of time assuring me that it is a s/w problem. Every time it crashes, it requires a SMC reset. Contrary to popular belief, it requires unplugging the power cord from the back of the computer not the wall. When I unplug from the wall the computer usually crashes within 10 minutes sometimes it crashes right after the wallpaper shows up. On at least 5 data captures, it crashed during the data capture.
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Chris Cox

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Again, there is no way an engineer would make such a ridiculous claim. If it is a software problem at all, it could only be in the OS kernel or low level drivers -- and Apple's engineers know that. Someone would have to be extremely inexperienced (and I mean "never studied computers, programming or electrical engineering at all") to make such a ludicrous claim.

Yes, What you are describing sounds like it could be bad RAM, VRAM, or a bad capacitor (decoupling) on the motherboard.

But I'm still a bit disturbed that someone is claiming to be an Apple engineer and trying to place the blame on applications instead of investigating the much more likely causes in the hardware.
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Gary Magdalik

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4 of the last 5 weeks I have been working daily for a minimum of 12 hours/day trying to get the iMac to work without crashing only to have the machine power down whenever it reaches its limit. My first comment to the second Sr. Advisor was that what the machine was doing was indicative of a capacitor reaching its rated limit and crashing. Apple had the computer for a week and they told me they ran many tests and really put it through a lot of work so it had to be a s/w issue.

When a friend of mine mentioned RAM and VRAM today it remined me of my IBM ThinkPad A31p (4 Gb of RAM) where it would power down uncommanded - cause: Bad solder joints on the RAM sockets. He suggested doing a Command+Option+P+R on boot-up to reset the VRAM. I haven't tried that because I'm waiting for the Apple Engineers to come back with their findings after looking at the 5 Data Captures and 7 screen shots I sent them yesterday (125 Mb of files). Have two more to send them from today. Would have been three but the computer crashed while doing the data capture after the first crash.
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Chris Cox

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The Apple stores don't have the equipment to do any testing beyond swapping out obvious pieces. They have to send the machines out to a regional center to do serious testing.

We've actually seen a couple of different RAM and VRAM problems. Insufficient power, or insufficient decoupling are pretty straightforward (especially if you have an oscilloscope handy to watch the voltage sag), but require fixes or replacement of the motherboard. Timing problems and misshapen pulses are less obvious, and usually come from the RAM chips being out of spec, or just plain defective (and require a pretty good o-scope or dedicated dram tester to identify). Of course, none of these RAM problems are going to be found by simple test software -- that can only catch obvious stuck bits or bad data lines.
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Gary Magdalik

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The latest: Today they are having me run the extended hardware test (hold down the 'D' key while the computer reboots). I've already done this 3 times on my own in the last now almost 6 weeks. It echoed "No hardware problems" every time. I'm sure that it did the same at the Apple store. Next they want me to erase the hard drive and reinstall the OS. Actually they wanted me to partition the hard drive and install another copy of OS X. I refused to do this. This will be the 5th time for this evolution. One of the prior four times they had me partition the hard drive and install a fresh copy of the OS. This exercise left me with 4 separate partitions. Two regular partitions and two recovery partitions. Like you think I bought this kick butt computer to just run OS X, surf the web, read emails and run tests so they can keep saying "It's a software problem".
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Chris Cox

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Yeah, you really need to escalate the support case to someone who has some idea of what hardware and software do. (ie: not someone in that store).
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Gary Magdalik

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Over all this time I have worked with 6 Senior Advisors and 2 Corporate Customer Relations people. The Senior Manager and his #1 Genius at the Apple Store. I thought that was escalation. Thanks for you input Chris. It's good to hear from someone who know what he is doing.
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Gary Magdalik

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Chris, do you have any problem with me quoting you on your observations.
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Chris Cox

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Nope - again, most of Apple's hardware engineers know me.
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Gary Magdalik

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Thanks Chris. I'm still having the uncommanded power downs (UPDs). Have removed all third party applications except Google Chrome. The last three UPDs have occurred with nothing but Chrome and Apple Mail running It happens with I either minimize Chrome, then delete some emails and click on the word Mail in the menu bar to quit the Mail application. The UPD today wiped my 2 email accounts and all my email I had stored. The evolution now is "to isolate the cause of the power downs". I have now spoken to 7 Senior Advisors and 3 Corporate Customer Relations persons.
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Chris Cox

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< sarcasm >
Gee, now will they blame it on bugs in Apple Mail?
< /sarcasm >

My next diagnostic step would be moving your disk into a new system, and see if the problem follows (isolating it to the disk, the data on the disk, or the old system).
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Gary Magdalik

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Through all of this I have asked them to replace the computer. Today I asked them to send me a loaner and take mine into a repair center and scope it. That pretty much fell on dead ears. If it is a hardware problem, they are not going to figure it out by making me operate the computer without the applications I bought the computer for. I sent them an email back on 10/11 telling them I was through doing testing that they should be doing.
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Gary Magdalik

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Today's crash brought to you by Apple Mail. The crash that wiped my 2 email accounts and all my email, wiped my DNS settings. I couldn't get back on line. Working now but now Apple wants me to partition the hard drive and install a clean OS.
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Gary Magdalik

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They settled for just an erase and reinstall on the Mac HD. Already done this 4 times myself, one of them with a new partition. Same result every time. They're not going to give up on the idea that it is 3rd party s/w causing the crashes.
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Gary Magdalik

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Last Friday, 10/16/2014, Apple had me erase my hard drive and install OS X Mavericks (10.9.5). I complied. The computer crashed 4 times during the install requiring SMC resets every time. It finally installed the OS. It crashed again shortly after it initialized. They asked for a data capture but not having internet connectivity and no email capability, I inserted a thumb drive to copy the Data Capture app. Copied it, started the Data Capture (DC) and the computer crashed. SMC reset, powered up and ran the DC. Completed the DC and sent it to Apple. Apple "Engineering" says the crashes were caused by the "swivel drive formatted for Windows" that was plugged in. Unfortunately it wasn't plugged in during the installation of OS X. Today, after explaining that there are no "swivel drives" plugged into the computer and trying to add an email account I got the first of 4 uncommanded power downs. Two of which occurred after SMC resets, while the machine was booting up so not indicated in the DCs. Tomorrow I have to take it back to the Apple store for the third time. WTF, over.
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Chris Cox

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Installing the OS caused shutdowns/hangs? Wow. More evidence that the problem is in the hardware.

It's time to get a regional supervisor involved - you local people are displaying, well, a staggering disregard for logic.
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Gary Magdalik

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How do I get in touch with a regional supervisor?
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Chris Cox

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You should be able to escalate it in the store, since they don't seem to have any idea what is going on. (hmmm, who do I know in Apple store management who hasn't already retired?)

Oh, and does your state have "lemon laws" -- you've had to take this computer back to them several times, so it might qualify for replacement under such laws.
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Gary Magdalik

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Washington does have lemon laws at least for cars. I will research it. Corporate Customer Relations called me this evening telling how patient I've been in doing everything they asked me to do. They are all on my side.
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Gary Magdalik

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Washington State lemon law only applies to cars.
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Gary Magdalik

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Yesterday I took my 27" Apple iMac into the store and was given a new iMac in exchange for the problem child.

However, when I got home, unpacked the computer and started it up I checked the System report to find that it is an Intel Core i5 vice an i7. I called the store and spoke to the manager who apoligized for missing that and told me to return it and I can order the replacement online at the store as they don't stock the high end iMacs in the store. So I'm off to the mainland this morning to return the replacement. This error occurred because when searching for the invoice for my computer the manager couldn't find it. Understandable because I purchased it onlline through my then employer's 'employee discount program'. Still, with the employee discount I paid slightly more than $3,300.00 for the computer.

I want to thank you, Chris, for your expertise and observations in this evolution.
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Chris Cox

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Sorry I couldn't be of more direct help. But glad to hear that you're on the way to a new (and working!) machine.