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Installing Windows XP SP2 on an Intel Prescott PC


Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released by Microsoft at around the same time as Intel brought out their Prescott based processors. These are the latest generation of Intel P4 and Celeron processors (at the time of writing this article). Because both were released at the same time, an incompatibility between the Prescott based processors and SP2 was not resolved before the release of SP2. Installing SP2 on a Prescott based PC will go through until it restarts. Then whenever you try to get in to Windows, the system will lock up and never get to the desktop. When booting, you will normally see the XP splash screen with the moving progress bar, this bar will stop when the PC locks.

How to find out if your processor is affected

Firstly, check if you have a Prescott based system, if you are unsure, then find out if you have either a Celeron or Pentium 4 based PC, either of these could be Prescott based. If you believe that your system may be Prescott based, then go to this link on Intel's website to download a program to check. Celerons with 256kb or more of Level 2 cache, and Pentium 4s with over 1Mb of Level 2 cache, then you probably have a system that is affected.

What do I do if I installed SP2 and my system has crashed?

There are 2 options:

  1. Disable Level 1 and Level 2 cache in your BIOS.
    This will make your PC run VERY SLOW, but it will allow it to boot. Once you have got in to Windows, go to the Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, and uninstall SP2 from there.

  2. Rename update.sys
    This option is not for the novice! You need to rename %windir%\system32\drivers\update.sys to anything you like and you should be able to boot in to Windows. Update the computer's BIOS to one which fixes the issues, then put update.sys back.

How do I install SP2 on a Prescott based system?

Providing the BIOS is up to date and designed to fix this issue, then you can go ahead and install SP2. To be on the safe side, you should install the Critical Update KB885626 for Windows XP. This can be downloaded from here. Once this has been installed, you can install SP2 and it should install correctly.

Has this resolved your problem?

Yes, how can I thank you? No, what can I do?


Useful Resources

MS KB Article KB885626
Intel Solution ID CS-015171