Articles: Memory

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Yes, We Need 2GB of RAM

The practical tests we have just discussed above indicate one thing: 1GB of memory is more than enough for contemporary applications. However, there will definitely be users among you who will strongly disagree with this statement. This section of our article is dedicated exactly for you, guys. Here we will try to prove that there can be found applications where 2GB of system memory will be absolutely appropriate. The thing is that despite everything we have already said, there are a lot of situations when 1GB of RAM may turn out insufficient.

First, the applications working with large amounts of data will certainly require more system memory. We have already mentioned this above. For instance, when you need to edit large images with graphic arts quality in Adobe Photoshop, 1GB of RAM may simply be too little to complete the desired operations. And there can be more examples like that. However all of them deal with the professional tasks and are very unlikely to occur in everyday life. And the high-performance workstations that are usually assembled for professional needs are already being equipped with 2GB or 4GB of RAM.

Another situation when 1GB of memory will not suffice for comfortable work is when there are several simultaneous tasks working with the memory. The dual-core processors that can process several computational threads at the same time very often push us towards this working algorithm. Why should we wait for the video encoding task or movie rendering task to be completed? We could easily do something else in the meanwhile, especially since CPUs based on dual-core architecture have more than enough resources for successful multi-tasking (without irritating delays) even if there are some resource-hungry applications running in the background.

Of course, if you are launching more and more tasks in the background mode you can soon exhaust the physical RAM, which will force the Windows memory manager to actively involve the virtual memory resources. In other words, some of the data required for certain applications will end up in the swap file on the system hard disk drive. This way, the HDD gets involved into the communication process between the CPU and the system memory turning into the system bottleneck in no time.

Since it takes much longer to complete the HDD requests than it would take to complete the memory requests, the CPU will be idling longer waiting for the new data to be submitted. Of course the system performance will drop down noticeably. For example, here is a screenshot showing the CPU utilization when we have three copies of 7-zip archiving utility running at the same time with a 32MB dictionary:

System equipped with 1GB of RAM

While two working copies of this archiving tool keep the CPU 100% busy, the launch of the 3rd copy of this utility requires active use of the swap file. The result is obvious: the CPU utilization as well as the overall system performance drop down by about 4 times, because of the insufficient RAM. Three fourths of the time the CPU remains idle waiting for the data that get shifted to the swap file. By adding more system memory into this platform you can easily solve this problem. In fact, this situation should also be regarded as a pretty rare occasion. You won’t really see that many people working this way. So, it looks like we desperately need an essential argument in favor of the 2GB RAM. And this argument is right here!

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