One of the large VacWrap machines at work was overhauled about two years ago and the system is controlled by a P3 600E running Windows 2000. The thing has been getting VERY flacky resently. When we change a tool in it it has to load some settings into control units that independantly control about 200 ceramic heaters. Well it has been giving my lots of trouble resently and fails to update the heater controls. The only way to fix this seems to be to turn off the entire machine (with the computer) and boot it back up. I was thinking the problem was related to the control units and not the computer, but when it booted it it did not recognise the CDROM, mouse, or keyboard, and I do not think it was recognizing the PCI card that communicates to the control unit, but the LCD touch screan worked. A few reboots finally got things going, but still with errors every now and then. The one thing that worries me is it did not work until we opened the cabnet. The cabnet is cooled by a pretty high RPM 120mm case fan with a filter that is cleaned often. The case inside the cabnet has lots of holes and another 120mm case fan with a filter (but the matenance team never knew it had a filter). All the fans are turning.
Well now you know about all I know about this thing. Could it be heat that causes it to not recognise things speradically, or could the motherboard be going bad? Or memory, or CPU... ? I seem to recall having a problem with parts not being recognized in a similar way, but it was a few years ago, and I do not remember what I did to fix it. I think it was a P2 233 that I was overclocking that did this. The P3 600E should run pretty cool as that is a good overclocking core (100Mhz bus). I want to rip it open and see what the heatsink on the CPU looks like, but that is unlikely to happen (I work in manufacturing, not their IT department, which is housed across town).
Heat, related to dirty heatsinks, or a failing psu or motherboard. If you had access and time, I'd run memtest and an hdd test utility just to eliminate them.
I don't think it is the hard drive. The failures are at differnt points. It has to load 12 banks of heaters and not all fail. I am leaning more toward memory or power supply.
The really odd thing is I asked the old tech and he said that the last time this was happening, the problem dissapeared after replacing the LCD touch screan. The screan was sticking on some points and was getting VERY hard to use. I was thinking it was sending lots of data constantly and was somehow interfering, but the touch screan is not having problems now.
I swear everything has desided to go flaky the last two days at work. No major failures and they all seem to come and go.
could be a dirty dusty heatsink or motherboard but as you said their are filters on the fans so it shouldnt be that dustly inside.
could be the power supply as you already suspect.