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technical Advice regarding Computer Hardware (RAM)

Dear All,

I hope to find supportive information regarding, using 4 gig of RAM on a 32Bit Windows(XP Pro) system. I think the IT of my company is really trying to challenge or just insulting my intelligence with their responses.

To state my problem:
Our testing units have to almost run realtime and bring the right performance with loading Call by reference Nodes at a decent speed. Since the system is running pretty preformance hungry processes like Microsoft Sql Server Express 2005 which takes around 570MB of RAM and LabVIEW uses with the loaded test almost 160MB of RAM, plus the virus scanner the IT(very critical while running a test!). Sad to say the specs on the computer are P(R)4 3Ghz with 1Gig RAM.

Well I've requested then at the IT an upgrade to 4 gig per unit, to improve the performance for the SQL and LabVIEW to reduce the overhead calling the Reference. It was fully clear on my side that XP will not complete will be able to use the full resources of 4 gig, approximatley 3.2 to 3.5 gig allocatable by the OS, since the BIOS, Graphic Cards and so on will take up some of the RAM. But come on! RAM doesn't cost that much anymore these days!
The response IT returned was:"XP just supports 2 gig", Smiley Very Happy, to be honest I almost cried for laughing after I've heard this one. So I've send them the link from Microsoft

Which says :

The major differentiator between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows is in memory support. Currently, 32-bit Windows is capable of supporting up to 4 GB of system memory, with up to 2 GB of dedicated memory per process. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will currently support up to 16 GB of RAM, with the potential to support up to 16 TB of virtual memory as hardware capabilities and memory sizes grow.

The responds to this from the IT in the evening was: "Mircosoft  advices for business use a maximum of 3gig of Ram" ?!

Has anybody heard from such a statement from Microsoft?
Since I've always received very valuable information in this forum, I hope to get supportive informations or links for upgrading to 4 gig or tell me if I am just wrong and possible reason for not upgrading to 4 gig. Eventually I want to switch to linux so all RAM can be allocated.

Thank you in advance,

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The IT group is right, essentially because they're talking practicality, as opposed to technicality, which is what the MS article that you pointed to talks about (by the way, your link is incorrect, as the "(en-us)" should not be there) . There's lots of evidence to show that it's essentially futile to try to get a 32-bit machine running XP to recognize anything beyond 2GB of RAM. Even with 32-bit Vista mitigating factors will cause it to typically only recognize 3GB of RAM even if the machine has 4GB of RAM installed.

I would suggest off-loading your memory-hungry processes like SQL Server to another machine. There is little reason this should be running on the computer running the test software.
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Thanks for your reply smercurio_fc
and the Link correction
unfortunately i can't lay off on the SQL service since this is where all calibrations, limits are saved and the collected data is written in. After collection it will eventually move all this data to the main server. But since you say it is futile to get anything recognized over 2GB of RAM on a 32Bit XP, so I guess I am wrong and anything over 2GB is an overkill. But I was reading about the /3GB switch which was pretty interesting. So i been playing around with the system today and installed 4GB of RAM, and surely it did just recognized 3.5GB of RAM in the System Properties but who knows if it is used by XP.

Message Edited by ofahed on 03-11-2008 11:31 AM
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I do not see why you can not have the SQL server on another machine and tie it in that way. If you are using the same disk drive, you are probably limited to about 25 to 100 transaction per second (limitation of the disk drive). If you are using ethernet connection, unless you are using really large transactions, you could use dedicated ethernet connection or better yet 1 Gbit ethernet connection.

Another point, SQL server is resource hog and potentially slow your real time response down.

I think the 3.5 Gbyte is when you switch on PAE. But it does nothing for your process. It still limited to 2 Gbytes. It allows the machine to use more memory so that more process can stay in memory. You can possibly work around it by having a multiprocessor machine.

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Hi Joseph,

The only reason why the sql service has to run on the computer is because if it looses the connection to the main server it still can stay productive.

About how much RAM XP Windows seems to be a huge confusion everywhere online. So 2GB per process or just 2GB max. Even the company that provides the IPC's said the computers will be able to use 3.2GB of RAM for OS and the rest will be allocated by Graphic Cards and drivers 😞

I've read the same about the /PAE

Windows XP Pro can use up to 4GB of RAM, but when you first install all of it you will only see 3 GB. this is caused by one or both of the following;
1. There is a BIOS setting that uses a portion of the RAM ans a temp file backup solution, which can be disabled in the BIOS.
2. Add the /PAE switch to the boot.ini file, this will access the full 4GB, but will limit 2GB to the OS and 2GB to other programs. If you add the /3GB switch after the /PAE it will allocate 1GB RAM to the OS, and 3GB to all other apps.

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