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Ars Analysis Calls Windows 7 Memory Usage Claims "Scaremongering"

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the nothing-but-dihydrogen-monoxide-to-drink dept.

Windows 334

Via newsycombinator comes a reaction at Ars Technica to the recently reported claims of excessive memory use on machines running Windows 7. From the article: "I installed the XPnet performance monitoring tool and waited for it to upload my data to see what it might be complaining about. The cause of the problem was immediately apparent. It's no secret that Windows 7, just like Windows Vista before it, includes aggressive disk caching. The SuperFetch technology causes Windows to preload certain data if the OS detects that it is used regularly, even if there is no specific need for it at any given moment. Though SuperFetch is a little less aggressive in Windows 7, it will still use a substantial amount of memory—but with an important proviso. The OS will only use memory for cache when there is no other demand for that memory."

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So (5, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212712)

Though SuperFetch is a little less aggressive in Windows 7, it will still use a substantial amount of memory—but with an important proviso. The OS will only use memory for cache when there is no other demand for that memory.

I really wonder when people will get this. In the earlier thread I saw people commenting that Windows 95 didn't need so much memory and so on..

To state it again. This is not RAM memory you need, use or have purpose for. IF you do need it, it is zeroed-out and free'd to application in like 30ms (one frame in usual FPS games).

If you have fast memory, do use it to it's full extend.

Re:So (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212738)

>it's full extend
>it's
>extend

Hey, someone mod this clown down for bad grammar.

Re:So (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212752)

Not everyone who reads slashdot has english as their first language. It's still understandable without inducing headaches in anyone who isn't a grammar nazi, it's fine.

he's a native speaker (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212870)

sopssa is from the UK, but he can't speak English very well when his mouth is full of Ballmer cock.

Re:he's a native speaker (2, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212888)

This is completely offtopic, but you seem to come with this message in every thread so I answer you one time here - I am from sweden, not uk.

Re:he's a native speaker (1, Informative)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212956)

And though your English has some minor mistakes every now and then, it's not like you are writing in such a way that we cannot understand you. Your English is better than my grasp of Spanish by many miles. Congrats.

Re:he's a native speaker (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213052)

Your English is better than my grasp of Spanish by many miles.

Your grasp of geography doesn't appear to be very good, either. Or perhaps your English reading comprehension isn't quite up to snuff?

Re:he's a native speaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213208)

I am from Alpha Centauri, you insensitive clod!

Re:he's a native speaker (2)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213278)

Or perhaps he was comparing proficiency at second languages ... (english as a second language vs spanish as a second language).

Re:So (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212740)

It must be a shit technology if this isn't in Linux.

Re:So (3, Informative)

Der PC (1026194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212776)

You must be an anonymous moron making such a claim.

#1) Linux _doesn't_ have all the best and greatest technology built in.
#2) It even does have some really crappy technology in between.
#3) guess what the "-/+ buffers/cache" line in the output of "free" means
#4) guess what the "buffers" and "cached" columns of "free" means
#5) guess what prefetch/preload is.

Sheez... anyone gets access to a keyboard these days :-|

Re:So (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212902)

Yeah looks like they finally got Windows to reimplement the way Linux handles memory caching of filesystem objects. Hey, what with a network stack, multiple user accounts, a superuser and less-privileged users, a "run as" sudo workalike, mount points, and now memory caching of filesystem data, Microsoft is well on its way to re-implementing Unix! Like that saying goes, "those who fail to understand Unix are doomed to re-implement it...poorly."

Re:So (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213080)

"those who fail to understand Unix are doomed to re-implement it...poorly."

lol.. like Linux "re-implemented" UNIX? Unless ofcource they used the same code, then the SCO lawsuit could be revived again ;)

Re:So (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213270)

I'm not sure how you were modded insightful. Read the quote carefully. Eventually you'll understand it. Or die. Either way the world is better off*.

*This is a joke. Or not.

Re:So (2, Insightful)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213274)

"those who fail to understand Unix are doomed to re-implement it...poorly."

lol.. like Linux "re-implemented" UNIX? Unless ofcource they used the same code, then the SCO lawsuit could be revived again ;)

They understand UNIX and re implemented it appropriately, not poorly.

Re:So (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212878)

Linux (and actually all recent Windows, Mac OS X, Linux distros) use the very same technology. Linux did this really early too. I don't know the full story about intelligent RAM usage, but first time I saw it being used was on linux servers. And if you do compare it to the past "demand and receive, fully" memory model, it's a lot better.

Re:So (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212932)

It is basically.

You can even (trivially) roll your own in Linux. lsof occasionally to build some stats on commonly opened files. cat them to /dev/null to fill the filesystem buffer cache. I'm not sure anybody would even bother to give it a name like "SuperFetch", never mind a trademark like "Microsoft Windows SuperFetch®". It's kind of sad and depressing really.
 

Re:So (5, Insightful)

mystikkman (1487801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213370)

You have no idea what you're talking about. Superfetch is much more than stats on commonly opened files. It takes into account the times of the day, weekends etc. too among other advanced stats. Anyway if it's trivial to roll your own, why doesn't such a thing run by default in Ubuntu? That's the thing that's sad and depressing, not giving names to technology.

30ms? (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212754)

Really? 30ms. Shit that's slow.

This IS RAM we're talking about here, right? y'know nanosecond stuff, 10^-9 not 10^-3 seconds.

Re:30ms? (1, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212816)

This is in the case you need to free like 1GB of normal RAM. Other than like Photoshop and games don't need that much. But anyway, it has to be zeroed out for security, and so that other apps cannot randomly get data from other apps.

Besides the technical points, 30ms to free that RAM is really low. You wont even notice that.

Re:30ms? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212944)

Furthermore, RAM is not used when it is allocated. When app allocated memory, it only allocates address space. You could easily have 2:1 or 5:1 ratio of allocated memory space to used RAM. RAM is only used when application starts to use that memory.

In addition, there is READ-ONLY memory (non-writable, executable) that is shared between applications.

This is another reason why having more than 2G of RAM on a 32-bit OS is dumb. OS runs out of address space and your 4G ram can easily be cut down to 2G usable. For heavy multi-tasking applications, where you have lots of specialized hardware (ie. graphic cards, DMA accessible RAID, etc) I wouldn't be surprised if a 32-bit OS would have problems managing more than 2G ram.

Re:30ms? (1)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213250)

This is another reason why having more than 2G of RAM on a 32-bit OS is dumb.

What are you smoking? Even on Windows 32-bit, without any modifications, the 2GB limit is per-application. I have yet to see a machine "lose" more than 1GB to address space (admittedly, no crossfire or SLI setups).

I have 4GB in my 32-bit development machine and regularly use it all. And I mean all - I use Gavotte's RAM Disk to create a 512MB RAM disk in the "unusable" portion that I use to hold my temp directory and other things I don't want to survive reboots. I've tried living in 2GB, and it's just not reasonable even with XP if you're forced to use Eclipse + JBoss ...

Re:30ms? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213316)

I guess you're never heard of PAE?

Re:30ms? (4, Informative)

ashridah (72567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213294)

You might want to grab a copy of Process Explorer sometime, and look at the stats it reports. you'll notice that windows actually spends idle time pre-zeroing ram, so that this is already done, in more than enough amounts. If your system is slammed, i could see having to pre-zero the pages, just before use, however, but it's not like it's not something that couldn't be done while waiting for other I/O operations to complete (since your system is slammed anyway :) )

My laptop currently has 2.8 million pages zeroed atm (it has 8gb, and I don't have much running right now, so there's not a lot to cache.)

Byte vs. megabyte (0, Flamebait)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212914)

This IS RAM we're talking about here, right? y'know nanosecond stuff, 10^-9 not 10^-3 seconds.

If one byte takes 10^-9 s, a million bytes take 10^3 s.

Re:Byte vs. megabyte (3, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212998)

If one byte takes 10^-9 s, a million bytes take 10^3 s.

Only if you do them one at a time, one after another, waiting till each had been cleared. That'd be... Wait this is Microsoft we're talking about here... Carry on.

 

Re:Byte vs. megabyte (4, Funny)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213050)

Everyone knows there's a shadow-bus on the motherboard that only open source operating systems have access to.

Re:Byte vs. megabyte (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213136)

Only if you do them one at a time, one after another, waiting till each had been cleared.

By 10^3 he probably meant 10^-3. I understood his point: clearing freed RAM is O(n).

Re:30ms? (2, Informative)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212966)

This IS RAM we're talking about here, right? y'know nanosecond stuff, 10^-9 not 10^-3 seconds.

Yes, and nanoseconds (10^-9) multiplied by the number of memory locations to clear (10^6 when you're talking multi-MB chunks of memory) gets us right back in the millisecond (10^-3) range. Which is just a blink of the eye for us humans, btw.

Re:So (2, Informative)

Amnenth (698898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212778)

People aren't taking the time to learn the meaning of the 'available' memory stat in the Task Manager.

Based on my experience, it's usually very close to the total you get when adding 'free' memory and 'cached' memory together.

'Available' in this case means that, as parent suggests, Windows will free it for use as soon as it's needed.

Re:So (4, Informative)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212938)

Yep, same for Linux. My Linux boxes use ALL the memory available even if I do not run many applications on it. The left over memory SHOULD be used as buffers/cache. If Windows 7 seems to use more memory from a newbie point of view, it might be because it does things like it should better than previous versions. I can't tell for sure since I have never tried win 7.

See this 4 GB Linux machine below, it only has ~49 MB of "absolutely free" memory and uses ~449 MB of swap.

In realty, it has ~2842 MB of "available memory" since it uses ~2792 MB of buffer/cache.

Using buffer/cache makes the system order of magnitude faster. If programs need that memory, the OS will give to them and use less buffer/cache.

free
                          total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 4133252 4083380 49872 0 26852 2766248
-/+ buffers/cache: 1290280 2842972
Swap: 1999800 449244 1550556

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212868)

I get that. But the question in my mind is if this still results in a lot of disk activity when moving things in and out of the cache. The earlier article suggested a lot of disk swapping.

Re:So (2, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213022)

No disk activity is required to flush read buffer/caches. A little might be needed to flush write cache but read cache should be flushed first if memory is required by programs.

Anyway, most of the cache is read cache since write cache are flushed at regular interval.

Short story, no, no disk activity is required.

You will only have a lot of swapping if you do not have enough memory to run your programs, not because of buffer/cache usage. Before you start to have a lot of swap activity, your buffer/cache usage will go to zero anyway ;-))

Basically, if you do not have any buffer/cache usage on your system, it is probably because your are tight on memory.

Re:So (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212952)

More to the point, the company that wrote this little monitoring tool badly misunderstood basic principles of how the operating system works. At this point, I think we can move on and completely disregard any conclusion they came to. It either demonstrated profound ignorance or a deliberate attempt to mislead people it what turned out to be a slashvertisement of their products and company.

From the article:

One might almost think that this whole exercise was simply a cynical ploy. Allegations of Microsoft bloatware are, of course, nothing new, and oblique references to the old canard that what Intel gives, Microsoft takes away does nothing to dispel the impression that this is another case of Microsoft bashing.

What a surprise. Fortunately, people really didn't even let them get away with it even in the previous article. Microsoft deserves plenty of what slashdot slings its way, but let's stick try sticking to facts.

Re:So (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213200)

"The OS will only use memory for cache when there is no other demand for that memory"

Ok, I'm not going to bother and read the smart people. I'm going to go straight to my point.

If you are using nearly all available RAM for disk cache, then EVERY REQUEST FOR RAM WILL REQUIRE CACHE DUMP.

It's like this;

If you have 4GB RAM and are using, say, 1.5GB for applications and system, and you use 2.2GB RAM for cache, then you are left with 300MB approx for any new demand. So any demand in excess is going to make your system dump cache, and it does take time. How much is an interesting discussion. And yes, we can consider if the request is going to be satisfied out of cache, but let's also assume if it is than that cache will not be dumped. That would be unfortunate.

Here's my beef with this much more aggressive caching in 7 v XP:

What the ^&)$ do you need 2.5G cache for?

What are the likely demands on caching? Office 2007? My XP machine at work rarely shows Office 07 components using more than 500MB RAM. 2G caching? Pagefile getting you down, you don't want to use that?

More to the point, how often would a real-world user be USING 2GB RAM, much less 4GB?

Well, I do. But real-world? I have 2-4 virtual machines running fairly often, and in XP I rarely get up to 3GB. Win7 would maybe get me into 4GB+, sure, and the pagefile would go crazy.

When Smartdrive first came out, we used to tune it down quite a bit to avoid hogging RAM. I know it's improved, and I've never worried about it since Win98, but the more I read about Win7's caching, the more I think it is there for some strategy here that has nothing to do with user demands, and everything to do with OS performance. Vista and 7 both cannot be descirbed as lightweight, so maybe this is really to keep the OS light on its feet.

Fine. But MS can't say so.

Another resource hog. Hopefully it won't hog anything we need, right?

I just don't get it. Obviously.

Re:So (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213242)

You seem to think that its not a read-only cache. SuperFetch caches disk blocks as they appear on the disk. The "dumping" of them means to not consider them as valid cache anymore. There is no need to write them out.

Re:So (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213348)

The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of that cached memory is read-only caches (like DLL caching and superfetch) which doesn't need to be "dumped". Some small, very small, portion of it is read/write disk cache, but that portion is never going to be dumped unless you're *completely* out of memory otherwise. And that's basically a "last resort failure mode" at that point.

You're as bad as the guys who wrote that article in the first place. If you don't know how Windows works, please don't talk about it.

Re:So (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213390)

You're as bad as the guys who wrote that article in the first place. If you don't know how Windows works, please don't talk about it.

Hell, its not just windows. All operating systems do this.. and to be quite frank, programmers of all kinds should have cache techniques well understood. So the GP is neither a windows guru nor a decent programmer. The odds are very good that hes just an I-use-software geek, rather than someone who knows anything about computers.

Re:So (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213218)

To state it again. This is not RAM memory you need, use or have purpose for. IF you do need it, it is zeroed-out and free'd to application in like 30ms (one frame in usual FPS games).

It's more like 100ms on an average PC, but yes, you are correct.

But since background stuff will be happening too, maybe 120ms...

If 120ms isn't an acceptable delay, then you need an OS where programs are geared for low disk IO usage, and low memory usage. That will prevent any software from interfering with any other software, giving very fast and consistent performance.

Selection of software is big. For example, the difference between My Uninstaller [nirsoft.net] and Add/Remove in XP is huge. You wouldn't notice on a fast PC, but on an older one you would!

Superfetch is a crutch. A handy one, but it shouldn't actually be necessary to use it have great startup performance for your favourite apps.

Re:So (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213398)

To state it again. This is not RAM memory you need, use or have purpose for. IF you do need it, it is zeroed-out and free'd to application in like 30ms (one frame in usual FPS games).

The problem with previous versions of windows (I haven't used anything newer than XP) is in how the OS decides that you do not "need, use or have a purpose for" certain types of memory.

The pathological, and yet all too common case with XP is the OS's decision that text pages should be dumped in favor of disk cache far too soon. The result being that if you have multiple apps open and a few that you haven't touched for roughly 10 minutes and then go to copy a couple of gigabytes of files around the text pages for those 'idle' applications are flushed out and the disk cache loaded with parts of those copied files (which you are unlikely to ever need). When you click on the iconbar to bring one of those formerly idle apps back to the foreground the system grinds away for a long time (obviously machine dependent but never instantly and frequently way beyond the point of annoying) as it reloads those text pages from disk before the application even starts to redraw itself much less starts becoming fully interactive again.

The worst part about that behavior is that, to the best of my knowledge, there are no knobs to tweak it. I can't specify how long a text page needs to be idle before it should be a candidate for flushing or even if it should be pinned down permanently so that is never paged out. I once went looking to see if there was a way to do it from within the application code itself - something like mlock()/mlockall() in posix - and I couldn't find an equivalent, which may just be a reflection of my own inexperience with the Windows API but I figured I would throw that out there anyway.

If only the cache were actually -good- (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212806)

The problem with Windows isn't that it has a cache, it is, that the cache sucks. I have a box with 2GB of RAM and I run Visual Studio on it and do a build on a solution with 60 projects. Now you might think that after a day of builds and recompiles, at least some of that stuff would wind up in cache, but it feels like it doesn't. It grinds the disk as much in the morning as it does in the evening. By contrast, my Linux box, where I build a project nearly as large, is always feeling pretty peppy. Bottom line is, Windows, when dealing with jobs with lots of file, feels like drilling holes in my head, and Linux is responsive and pleasant.

Now, it would be nice if we could see what's in the cache in Windows, but you can't.
It would nice if you could peg a file to the cache, in Windows, but you can't.

In short, you have no idea what's in the cache, really, and can't do anything about it, and the disk just keeps grinding away. I wonder, if my drive is busy with files that I've been working on all day long, what for god sake's is sitting in the cache? I just don't know.

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (2, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212876)

Sure, I know if my compiles seem to be slow there's nothing better for improving my productivity than diving into the cache.

In any case, if you want to compare OS cache performance you might at least try to use the same compiler and the same language on both machines.

Same compiler on both machines (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212976)

In any case, if you want to compare OS cache performance you might at least try to use the same compiler and the same language on both machines.

Use Visual C++ on both machines? Good luck getting it to run in Wine.

Use GCC on both machines? The last time I tried GCC on Windows, it produced bloated binaries for any C++ program that uses <iostream>. A quarter megabyte for Hello World [pineight.com], on two platforms (MinGW targeting Windows/x86 and devkitARM targeting GBA/ARM7)? Give me a break.

Re:Same compiler on both machines (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213026)

Well, if you can't do an Apples vs. Apples comparison then don't. There's no point in performing a comparison that you know is flawed from the start.

Re:Same compiler on both machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213160)

Bloated C++ binaries were caused by GCC having only a static c++ runtime on windows, so every c++ program had (almost) whole runtime linked in. Newer MinGW GCC releases (4.4 series) include libstdc++.dll, so a simple "hello world" style example would produce a nice and tidy few-kilobytes large binary.

Re:Same compiler on both machines (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213254)

Bloated C++ binaries were caused by GCC having only a static c++ runtime on windows

And it still has only a static C++ runtime on, say, Nintendo DS because there's no libstdc++.dll in the BIOS.

Newer MinGW GCC releases (4.4 series) include libstdc++.dll

Which of course I'd have to distribute with each copy of each program because the user doesn't already have it. Even so, how many bytes does hello world take under newer MinGW? (I don't have Windows in front of me at the moment.)

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (2, Informative)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213096)

Programs and compilers have nothing to do with disk read/write caches, this is handled at the OS level.

Programs ask to read/write from/to disk and they have no idea where the OS get the data from.

You and the GP might be confusing CPU cache that has its own dedicated memory and disk cache that uses the OS RAM.

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213120)

My intent was not to suggest the proper way to test cache performance. I was merely stating that any comparison experiment should hold all other variables constant.

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (2, Informative)

Runefox (905204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212882)

As I understand it, it doesn't cache data, it caches applications (and I think also fonts and other often-used things). So startup time for your web browser, e-mail client, IM client, and any other applications you use often will be much faster. For example, Google Chrome loads almost instantaneously on my system, from a cold start. It won't keep a memory cache of things that applications do, and hence it won't speed up compilation, rendering, etc.

For that matter, 2GB of RAM isn't a whole lot to cache with when you think about it. The sweet spot for Vista/Win7 is really around 4GB or higher for SuperFetch to really shine.

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212886)

How would you do either of those activities with Linux. I know you can cat stuff into the cache, and you can control the "swappiness" and something about dirty inodes in proc/sys, but how could you say "I want this file to be in the cache no matter what" or "what files are in the cache" other than by creating a ram disk and putting them there (and then wondering why your ramdisk files are also cached because you used /dev/ram instead of tmpfs...) manually?

Re:If only the cache were actually -good- (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213318)

I think this is what redhat called their ReadAhead Manager (or something of the sort). I believe Ubuntu has or had something similar.

While it sounds like a good idea, it doesn't really pan out, it just makes your boot time longer. Who cares if you improve the speed of opening your browser when the rest of the OS finally loads. Lots of people only open their browser once each time they boot up anyways.

I'm not much of a fan of binary preloading, but the OS/caching memory model in linux does actually give you a huge and visible performance gain. This can be easily seen by trying to autocomplete all possible programs in bash under linux, twice, then comparing the same thing in MSYS (mingw32's linux environment) with bash.

*Spoiler* the second time you try and autocomplete the list it will be extremely fast.

  This same effect speeds up directory listings, Open/Save dialog boxes (duh!), Traversing paths, the loading of frequently used binaries and libraries, and possibly the visualization of thumbnails in nautilus with image directories.

Nothing fancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31212832)

why use some 3rd party tool where you upload data?

in win7 just run resource monitor and click on the memory tab. it's got a nice little picture and everything.

2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (3, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212848)

I think it's just a sign of the times. I regularly bump up against my 2GB ram limit (once a day) if I have GIMP/Photoshop open, 3 or 4 Chrome windows open with 10-20 tabs each (many of those being youtube videos), usually a videogame in the background (Windowed No Border mode at full or almost full screen resolution rules), along with whatever else I'm doing, a paused VLC video, steam, and any other background apps + whatever I'm working on currently. This isn't a problem in Win7, it's a problem of Leaving a Bunch of Shit open all the time.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (2, Funny)

Courageous (228506) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212896)

*shrug*

Windows 7, 64 bit here. 8GB RAM. Intel X25-M SSD. Seems like nothing I do can make my computer "sluggish".

C//

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212930)

I haven't had any issues with sluggishness, it's just that Chrome tends to die when I hit the 2GB cap. It's speedy as all get out up until that point.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213038)

Windows 7, 64 bit here. 8GB RAM. Intel X25-M SSD. Seems like nothing I do can make my computer "sluggish".

Same here, down to the SSD. I (obviously) still have only 60MB "free" memory but 6240-6250MB available.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1, Offtopic)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212986)

Just curious, whats the point of having so many open tabs with youtube videos? Do you keep having to refer back to them?

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213118)

I often find myself with a long list of tabs open presenting a history of my travels during searches allowing me quick backtracking to various points. Youtube or other flash content isn't unusual in many tabs. It's just easier than closing this or that tab only to find the one you closed had a potential link or piece of information you now need. When all is said and done I just X the Window and start fresh, but up till that point you could potentially have a vast number of pages of all sorts of content open at once without much thought.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213408)

I highly HIGHLY recommend a flash blocking add-on like FlashBlock [mozilla.org] for Firefox. There will be a play button where all the embeded flash videos would be and it won't load them until you click play. You can of course whitelist sites that you'd like to load all flash from. But now you don't have to have those 10 pages in tabs each with 2, 3 or more flash ads or graphics eating up CPU cycles.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213148)

Sometimes it's a catchy song I want to listen to again later, but probably don't want to favorite. Or I did a search and found more than one interesting, tangential video I might want to watch later, but don't have time to now. Other times I simply forget to close them. Sometimes I leave them open to link to later in a blog or email/facebook etc. Maybe if there was some sort of intermediate between "youtube favorites" and "web browser history", I would replace my current system.

Re:2GB on XP isnt enough anymore (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213314)

> I regularly bump up against my 2GB ram limit

I ALWAYS bump up against my 4GB ram limit and it is perfectly normal ! ;-)))

The shit you "leave open" will be swapped out, so there is no problem there either....

I currently have 355 processes running on my system; 51 bash shells, 33 httpd, 65 rotatelogs, 3 XVNC server, 3 VMWare hosts, etc...

And it all runs as smooth as a baby as long as you do not try to use ALL the processes at once ;-))

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1557492&cid=31212938&art_pos=2 [slashdot.org]

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1557492&cid=31213022&art_pos=1 [slashdot.org]

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1557492&cid=31213096 [slashdot.org]

It's a matter of definitions (-1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212884)

Though SuperFetch is a little less aggressive in Windows 7, it will still use a substantial amount of memory...

If Windows 7 actually uses that much memory it's not scaremongering, it's memory hogging. Whether it's using it on not is a pretty fine distinction, it's still using it just because it can. If something else needs it, Windows has to decide if it wants to let go of it or not.

Still seems like pretty heavy-handed way of allotting memory to me. The original contention seems to be basically intact. Windows 7 is sucking up your system memory to make Windows appear faster.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (1)

peachstealingmonkeys (1268936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212950)

I see what you did there. However, the alarming claim was misleading. W7 has a dynamic memory utilization, that's pretty much it.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (4, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212974)

It's not "hogging" memory if it dumps it the second you start up a program that needs it... It also doesn't make your system "appear" faster, it makes it faster. I paid for all that RAM, I don't mind it being taken advantage of; that's why it's there in the first place...

Re:It's a matter of definitions (5, Insightful)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213004)

Windows 7 is sucking up your system memory to make Windows appear faster.

So windows has a feature which makes everything run faster and yet it only "makes Windows appear faster", instead of making it actually faster?

It seems to me that windows is only using hardware in a rather intelligent way: if it's not being otherwise used or needed, it uses it to boost performance.

Linux does the same thing, as far as I know, and you don't see anybody calling Linux a memory hogging OS.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213006)

I swear... you people are fucking retards.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (0, Redundant)

soupd (1099379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213020)

Windows makes use of unused RAM to cache code/data that past usage suggests the user makes common use of. If active programs or background threads need this RAM, this cache gets smaller as RAM is released. This sounds like a sensible use of otherwise-unused RAM to me.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (3, Insightful)

Subliminalbits (998434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213054)

Describing caching as a way Windows makes your computer "appear" faster is really a little disingenuous. If that is the only metric for your complaint then you should be angry that your processor caches as well. After all, your processor takes the time to check two or three caches every time it issues a move instruction. If it misses every time, then it has to pick what to throw out of the cache and read directly from memory. Wouldn't it be so much better if it just made a fetch to ram every time there was a move instruction? After all, your processors caches only "appear" to make your processor faster right? The question that people should be asking if they want to get upset about SuperFetch is does this approach to ram use benefit the user enough to be worth the extra complexity in the operating system's memory allocator.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213070)

Yeah much better to not use the available free memory and just keep loading the same things off the slow disk over and over again.

That way you can always 2GB of free RAM!

And it doesn't make Windows "appear faster", it makes it faster. Caching is one of the oldest performance optimizations in computing. Everything uses it.

The linux box I have here would drive you crazy:

# head -4 /proc/meminfo
MemTotal: 8156032 kB
MemFree: 51000 kB
Buffers: 59504 kB
Cached: 7584944 kB

Re:It's a matter of definitions (4, Interesting)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213140)

If Windows 7 actually uses that much memory it's not scaremongering, it's memory hogging. Whether it's using it on not is a pretty fine distinction, it's still using it just because it can. If something else needs it, Windows has to decide if it wants to let go of it or not.

So are you saying Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and pretty much every other modern desktop OS other than Windows XP are also memory hogs as well? Because they also do the exact same thing and use up all of the free memory for caching, marking it as available.

Re:It's a matter of definitions (0)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213326)

Windows 7 is sucking up your system memory to make Windows appear faster.

Your operating system is using all of the physical resources of the machine to make it run as fast as possible. That's what it's there for.

Been using 7 awhile now (2, Informative)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212928)

Seems to use 1.3 gig no matter what I do. It's got 4 gig total. Boots in less than 2 minutes. It makes mistakes a lot faster than the old machine, which was just shy of a brick when I switched.

Linux does that (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31212994)

Linux uses available memory for cache, and rather aggressively. All available memory can be filled with cached file blocks. This happens routinely on systems which have big randomly-accessed files open, like databases.

There's nothing wrong with this, except that, once in a while, Linux hits a race condition in prune_one_dentry, causing an "oops" crash, when there's an unblockable need for a memory page and something is locking the file block cache.

This is one of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of Linux. Linus wrote about it in 2001 [indiana.edu] ("I'll try to think about it some more, but I'd love to have more reports to go on to try to find a pattern.. "). As of 2009, this area is still giving trouble. [google.com] The locking in this area is very complex. [lwn.net]

Re:Linux does that (1)

Angeliqe (1390757) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213184)

Linux uses available memory for cache, and rather aggressively.

That explains some things. I used to run top after a system had been running for awhile and always wondered why my memory usage was so high compared to when the machine first started up. It seemed that even when I closed a program, the memory was not reported as being "free" memory. However, if I loaded one of my memory hogging 3D games in wine and then shut that off, the memory usage would drop drastically.

Tits on a bull (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213014)

Why does anyone care about having piles and piles of free RAM? What use is empty RAM? Runway behind and Sky above, nice that it exists, but totally useless. I wish Linux prefetched stuff. If I open program 1, and ALWAYS open program 2 after, why shouldn't the OS preload program 2?

As has been pointed out, prefetched data is dropped if the RAM it occupies is needed in an infinitesimal amount of time, is your life so short, or your tasks so time sensitive that 10 or 15 ms is really a big deal?

Re:Tits on a bull (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213124)

I wish Linux prefetched stuff. If I open program 1, and ALWAYS open program 2 after, why shouldn't the OS preload program 2?

Wasn't this the issue with ext4? It keeps a huge cache in memory so if you write to a file and don't ffush it correctly you can lose your content on power down.

(off to put fflushes before close in all my programs)

Re:Tits on a bull (3, Insightful)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213334)

fflush() just flushes stdio's buffer, so that any data written to the file is sent to the operating system (via write() on *nix), making it visible to other programs. It does not flush anything in the operating system's own buffers/caches. Also, fclose() calls fflush() automatically, so calling both is redundant.

You're probably thinking of fsync(), a system call that does actually force data to disk. And should almost never be used, unless you enjoy waiting through several seconds of disk grinding and general unresponsiveness.

Re:Tits on a bull (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213388)

Yeah that would be it. I recall that some people were suggesting during the ext4 articles of a couple of years ago that you have to use fsync() on ext4 to be sure your data is on disk.

Re:Tits on a bull (0, Redundant)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213178)

I wish Linux prefetched stuff. If I open program 1, and ALWAYS open program 2 after, why shouldn't the OS preload program 2?

Allocating RAM is easy. However reading that much data from the HDD is not. SuperFetch makes the boot time of a typical laptop much longer, IMO, because while it is loading you almost can't use your computer to start other things (the HDD is a very slow device, compared to RAM.) I always disable SuperFetch.

Re:Tits on a bull (2, Informative)

RobbieCrash (834439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213288)

That makes no sense. Superfetch is run at the lowest priority, all other reads/writes interrupt anything it's doing and it only uses idle processor time.

At boot, Windows is doing other things not prefetching. Turn superfetch on and monitor your active processes at boot, you'll see that the superfetch PID is sittng all the way at the bottom of everything. Its IO is negligible as is its CPU usage until AFTER everything else has loaded and your system has gone back to twiddling its bits for a few hundred thousand processor cycles.

Re:Tits on a bull (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213422)

That makes no sense. Superfetch is run at the lowest priority

It's not the CPU that is a bottleneck, it's the HDD. When a large application, like FF, starts it needs to load tons of DLLs, read lots of files. It can't possibly help that some other reads are interleaved into that process; and once the HDD is executing the SuperFetch request it won't be available to execute FF's request. The SuperFetch service needs a limit on HDD use - say, one HDD access per second, and only if there was no other access within last second. But it doesn't appear to have any such limit, the only constraint is the priority of the thread, and with modern CPUs it doesn't do a thing, resulting in the HDD thrashing like mad for minutes.

Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213122)

I was still worried about this having seen that my "Wine-dows Computer" was using a lot of my so called "memory". I was concerned that if my memory was full I would have memory loss or maybe that my Computer would forget the letters I had written in "Word". Now I understand that my computer just reads its documents very fast. If you are kind, could you analyse the issue of "keys boards" next? Because my key board only has a set number of keys, and I am concerned what will happen if there is a program that needs a key that I do not have on my key board. Thank you Arse

This is one of those great mysteries of life (5, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213128)

if everyone is so afraid of their computer memory being used to the fullest, why do these people install so much of it?

I've got 8GB of ram in the machine I'm on at the moment, and I want the OS and applications to use it to the fullest and most efficient extent possible at all times. I didn't install a 64-bit OS and 8GB of ram so that I can see 6GB free at all times.

Re:This is one of those great mysteries of life (3, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213300)

if everyone is so afraid of their computer memory being used to the fullest, why do these people install so much of it?

Most users remember back to at least the 90s. You had to install enough ram to do what you needed (load the OS and program(s) - WinNT had the audacity to require 8MB to run well). There was no caching of any useful sort, so your free memory was really a measure of how many programs you could load. Programs, like Photoshop, added scratch files to overcome the physical RAM limits, but at a horrible performance penalty should have to actually use it. "Free RAM" became synonymous with "how many things you could do or open simultaneously."

All modern operating systems have moved on, but people haven't been educated about this. They remember how bad it was when they ran out of memory, and panic when the OS reports it's almost full. Honestly, it would be far better if MS would have reported the cached memory differently. I don't really care how much memory is used as superfetch cache most of the time - I'm more concerned with the total active usage. My netbook "only" has 2GB, but I do some 24/96 audio recording with it, and will occasionally work with photoshop images, so I am concerned if I have less than 500-600MB free when I open a session as I'm likely to exceed the physical RAM. I can read the data, so it's not a big deal, but others freak out about it.

Secondary problem - spinning up HDD (1)

invalid-access (1478529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213132)

It seems a secondary problem using SuperFetch, is that the HDD is woken up, or prevented from spinning-down when it otherwise could have been. ie. Bad notebook/netbook battery life. Anyone with insight into this?

Re:Secondary problem - spinning up HDD (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213192)

There's so much s**t going on in the background on every Windows machine that the HDD will never spin down even with SuperFetch disabled. Practically every program writes to the registry every few minutes...

Problem is, it's Ars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31213134)

in the last couple of years, Microsoft has become a major advertiser, and thus they now print anything Microsoft request of them.

Too much? (2, Insightful)

beej (82035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213196)

If Windows refused to use your RAM that you had installed, now that would be an issue. But fully using RAM? This, on its own, is not something to complain about.

You're missing the point (2, Insightful)

jon3k (691256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213228)

The last article specifically said RAM was nearly exhausted and there was excessive paging to disk. No one cares if RAM is full or not, if it's unused it's wasted anyway. The concern is having 85% memory utilization and then paging memory out to the pagefile.

In theory (1, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213344)

A good OS uses all the RAM, and allocates available free blocks of RAM to the programs as required.

However using the greater part of a gigabyte plus paging to the hard drive just to display the desktop and run the low level functions is inexcusable and points to either a) memory leak b) the OS is doing something legitimate you are unaware of, like indexing files, etc c) the OS is doing something illegitimate like sending the contents of your hard drive to someone in Redmond, the NSA/FBI or the RIAA/MPAA or d) your system has been compromised by a virus. I can't really think of any other possibility.

Duh? (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213356)

Isn't this how RAM is supposed to utilized anyway? I don't want my OS flushing out RAM if I'm just going to use the same data later on.

I still think it is peoples borked computers (1)

axor1337 (1278448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31213364)

My 2.0Ghz core 2 duo w/ 4 GB ddr2 has rarely risen above 70% and normally hovers at 30%
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