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Fix for STOP 0x0000007E Blue Screen on AMD Platforms

Some customers have received a STOP 0x0000007E error after moving to an AMD processor from an Intel one. It turns out that the plot has thickened a bit more, and Windows XP Service Pack 3 can sometimes cause the same problem--and do so for the exact same reason: intelppm.sys! There are simple solutions to the problem, though, all of which involve deleting the offending driver file.

Sometimes the STOP error is accompanied by the text SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED as well, though I've never personally seen that, it's technically what that STOP number means. In general, it's a waste of time to screw around with Microsoft's update that handles the problem, because intelppm.sys shouldn't be there at all anyway for AMD platforms; it's the Intel CPU microcode update driver that sends new downloadable microcode into the processor, usually to fix errata (bugs) or to improve performance, and it is only logical that Intel's microcode update software would make an AMD processor freak out and throw a wacky exception. The problem is that apparently Intel's driver doesn't check to ensure that the CPU in use is actually an Intel chip, which is either bad programming at Intel or intentionally done to make it look like AMD makes really glitchy chips. Either way, Intel is wholly to blame for the issue and could have avoided the problem with a very simple check that would have taken all of 30 minutes to code!

Be aware that other programs frequently cause STOP 0x0000007e errors as well, primarily security software. We've seen reports that ZoneAlarm getting damaged has caused this before, and the Zone Labs engine is used in some other security software we've come across, such as the CA Internet Security suite. (ZoneAlarm can cause serious problems, so you shouldn't be running it anyway.) What is written here ONLY applies to systems with a non-Intel processor trying to execute a driver that is hostile towards non-Intel CPUs.

The XP CD method

Boot from your Windows XP CD and hit "R" at the "Welcome to Setup" screen to reach a recovery console, then log into the Windows installation in question, as in the instructions from the previous article. The next step, once you get to a command prompt (i.e. "C:\WINDOWS>") is far more simple, elegant, and easily understood! Type this command, without quotes:

"disable intelppm"

Type "exit" after that and it's all done and over with. Sometimes us techies get so used to doing things the hard way that we forget the simpler solutions. If you're prepping a system for a change away from an Intel processor platform and want to avoid this problem, go to Start > Run... and type in the following command to pre-emptively disable intelppm.sys from loading:

"sc config intelppm start=disabled"

The Linux way

These are generic instructions for when an XP CD won't recognize the hard drive or is not available. Burning a Linux CD is too complicated to explain here, so search the Internet for information if you don't already know how to do it.

Pop in a KNOPPIX live CD, a SLAX live USB flash drive, or any other live Linux distro with read-write NTFS capability. Boot it, and open your hard drive. Find your WINDOWS\system32\drivers folder, and rename intelppm.sys to something else, such as intelppm.old, and that's the end of that. (WINDOWS is your Windows installation folder and may be named WINNT or WINXP on some systems instead.)