Vista with SP1 hangs with CPU usage at 100% (99% of kernel time)

March 03, 2008 - 2 minute read

UPDATEI think that information below are not correct because in days after this post, I continued to have this problem in other scenarios too. At the end of the story I just re-installed the machine with a "Vista&SP1 integrated" and now, after one month, everything is working fine. At this time the only hypothesis I have is that for some reason the SP1 setup didn't the right job, how knows:-S
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Since I installed SP1 RTM on my Vista (Toshiba Tecra M7 dual core tablet PC) I discovered that the system after a boot, remained with CPU usage constant at 100%. A deeper analysis shown that 99% of that CPU usage was kernel time:-(

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After a Sunday afternoon spent to find a solution, I discovered the problem: I have an old PCMCIA card reader from GEMPLUS (GemPC400) that, if present when I boot the laptop, produces the issue and the behavior described above.

<IMG style="BORDER-TOP-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-LEFT-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-BOTTOM-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-RIGHT-WIDTH: 0px" height=349 alt=IMG_0543 src="https://msdnshared.blob.core.windows.net/media/TNBlogsFS/BlogFileStorage/blogs_msdn/nicold/WindowsLiveWriter/VistawithSP1hangswithCPUusageat10099ofke_12E29/IMG_0543_thumb.jpg" original-url="http://blogs.msdn.com/blogfiles/nicold/WindowsLiveWriter/VistawithSP1hangswithCPUusageat10099ofke_12E29/IMG_0543_thumb.jpg" width=469 border=0 mce_src="http://blogs.msdn.com/blogfiles/nicold/WindowsLiveWriter/VistawithSP1hangswithCPUusageat10099ofke_12E29/IMG_0543_thumb.jpg">

When Vista started with CPU ad 100%, even if I removed the card reader, system remained with CPU at 100% (== unusable). The only way to unlock the situation, was to reboot the system (without the card!).

Because I needed that card reader, I found a workaround: infact, if I start Vista without the card reader and after the boot I insert it into PCMCIA port everything goes fine.

Lession lerned: if you discover that your Vista uses 99% of CPU time as "kernel time", try to analyze peripherals you have installed because there could be a driver that is not working as it should.