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Runaway system process

grumpy

Active Member
The system process seems to start running at an abnormally high CPU utilization for no apparent reason. This high CPU utilization will continue until I restart the SP2 (actually, it just stopped after about 60 min). This is not caused by the widely reported high CPU utilization seemingly caused by the audio drivers and an inserted mSD card. I do not have an mSD card inserted and disabling the audio drivers has no effect. This is a little annoying since it causes the battery to drain and when plugged in it just causes the SP2 to heat up.

This is a replacement SP2 with very little installed. I had noticed the same behavior with my previous SP2 prior to sending it back, but it did not seem to manifest in the first couple of months.
 

jrapdx

Member
The system process seems to start running at an abnormally high CPU utilization for no apparent reason. This high CPU utilization will continue until I restart the SP2 (actually, it just stopped after about 60 min). This is not caused by the widely reported high CPU utilization seemingly caused by the audio drivers and an inserted mSD card. I do not have an mSD card inserted and disabling the audio drivers has no effect. This is a little annoying since it causes the battery to drain and when plugged in it just causes the SP2 to heat up.

This is a replacement SP2 with very little installed. I had noticed the same behavior with my previous SP2 prior to sending it back, but it did not seem to manifest in the first couple of months.

As you say, it's a problem I've seen with cold boot, mSD, and enabled sound driver. However, I was never certain those were the only factors or conditions under which the problem appeared. FWIW I haven't noticed the CPU "revving" lately, so perhaps the recent FW/driver/system updates have helped. If you haven't updated your SP2 recently it's possible installing the updates will resolve the problem.

When the abnormal CPU behavior was happening, I found putting the SP2 into sleep state, even for just a few seconds, then promptly waking it up would relieve the over-utilization. The CPU load can be tracked with Task Manager, though a utility like Core Temp makes monitoring easier.

Hope that helps.
 
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grumpy

Active Member
If you haven't updated your SP2 recently it's possible installing the updates will resolve the problem.
My current SP2 is completely up to date, but the Feb update has had a deleterious effect on the battery capacity meter. My old SP2 was update to date with the exception of the Feb update.

When the abnormal CPU behavior was happening, I found putting the SP2 into sleep state, even for just a few seconds, then promptly waking it up would relieve the over-utilization. The CPU load can be tracked with Task Manager, though a utility like Core Temp makes monitoring easier.
Putting it to sleep and waking it up actually seems to make things momentarily worse. The CPU utilization will often increase dramatically for several minutes after waking. I have the taskmanger constantly open and I use HWinfo to monitor the temps.
 
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grumpy

Active Member
Well, I seemed to have once again stumbled upon an issue that only affects me...

I have done a little more digging. I downloaded the Windows Performance Toolkit and recorded a trace with xperf. The culprit seems to be the kernel function RtlScrubMemory. This seems to be part of memory maintenance that occurs during idle periods. For me, this is running when the SP2 is not idle and continues to run for a while or until I restart. I have also made sure that no scheduled tasks were running. Like I said previously, this also occurred with my previous SP2, but I did not investigate the cause since I was sending it back. Unfortunately, the CPU usage caused by the RtlScrubMemory function seems to just be a symptom of a still unknown problem.

I have noticed that these periods of high CPU usage seem to occur after the battery is charged. Once I let it run its course or restart, the problem does not seem to occur until after the next charge cycle. I do have some battery issues, so I can't help but wonder if they are related.

trace.png
 
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Seneleron

Active Member
I'm sorry for the basic question, but I have to ask: Are you sure it's not windows indexing your drive?
 

GoodBytes

Well-Known Member
Windows does a system maintenance, optimization and indexing of drive. This process is designed to use minimal resources, and stops when you need more resources. Making this process very time consuming.
If you want it done NOW. The best thing to do, is to set Windows to not set your Surface Pro 2 to go to sleep after a while, and leave it on all night. By morning it will be for sure complete.
 
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grumpy

Active Member
This does not seem to be a result of "proper" maintenance. There is very little disk activity during this period and it does not "yield" to more demanding tasks. Today, it again started the first time I woke it up after being plugged in. I realize that certain task a triggered to start only when connected to external power, but this process will continue to run regardless. If I restart the SP2, the problem does not seem to arise again until it is reconnected to external power.

This does not seem to be a correct behavior. I have never noticed it with my SP1 nor with other Windows computers. Windows generally performs its maintenance duties during periods of idle time and refrains from performing many while on battery power.

The RtlScrubMemory seems related to maintenance tasks, but there should be no reason for it to run for over an hour every day regardless if it is on battery power or not. Also, I stopped all scheduled tasks via the task manager, so if this activity was part of some normal scheduled maintenance, I would think that would have caused it to stop.
 
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GoodBytes

Well-Known Member
Well it's clearly something making it do that. I would refresh install Windows. And keep it bare bone. No web browser, no e-mail client, no nothing. Just bare bone Windows 8.1.
Is the problem still there?

If not, fully update Windows 8.1, and see if the problem is back or not. If not, then good now start installing your programs again. If it comes back, then you know it's one of your programs.
 
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grumpy

Active Member
Well it's clearly something making it do that. I would refresh install Windows. And keep it bare bone. No web browser, no e-mail client, no nothing. Just bare bone Windows 8.1.
Is the problem still there?

If not, fully update Windows 8.1, and see if the problem is back or not. If not, then good now start installing your programs again. If it comes back, then you know it's one of your programs.
Right now, all that is running on it is Firefox, Thunderbird, and Steam. It is only two weeks old having just sent back my old SP2, so it is fairly bare bones. I could do as you suggest, but my gut tells me that it would be fruitless. Furthermore, it looks like this SP2 will be going back due to more battery nonsense. That is why I suspect that the problem ultimately lies with the faulty battery. Both SP2 have bad batteries and both have this runaway processing seemingly initiated by connecting the SP2 to external power.
 
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GoodBytes

Well-Known Member
ok well.. I hope you are returnig your Surface Pro 2, and buying a new one, and not asking for warranty replacement.
 
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grumpy

Active Member
ok well.. I hope you are returnig your Surface Pro 2, and buying a new one, and not asking for warranty replacement.

Nope. My first SP2 did not start to exhibit problems until after a month, so a store replacement was out of the question. The first replacement process went smoothly. I placed the order on Monday and received the replacement on Thursday. It was in great condition cosmetically, unfortunately it exhibited some of the same anomalous behavior of the first. The real battery wackiness did not start until I applied the Feb update.

Of course, that brings me to my new problem of trying to get another warranty replacement. The MyService site now says that service is unavailable for my SP2 which is likely due to the fact that the status for my last warranty order is still "Service center is processing the order". I have confirmed that they actually received my returned SP2 (last Wed) and my credit card hold was removed. If this doesn't resolve itself by next week I'll have to call support.
 

GoodBytes

Well-Known Member
Very strange. Mine works above and beyond.
I did pass through 2 other Surface Pro's 2 (first one was trashed during shipping, pretty badly), the second one, had a problem with the digitizer was most likely the pen, but i prefer to be extra safe, and just get a fully working one. Third one was with the new CPU, and works perfectly since... well ok... after the February update, and the known issues with the device that Microsoft is working on fixing.
 

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