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4GB RAM in a 32-bit architecture


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#1
The Admiral

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I find that I have a lot of customers who call in asking why Vista won't show 4GB of RAM. I always explain it, but it takes a while (my fault, I'm sure).

If you could explain the limitations of addressing 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit architecture in 3 sentences or less, how would you do it?
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#2
hfcg

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If you wish to use more then three and a half GB of RAM you will have to upgrade to a 64 bit version of Vista.
However, Vista will perform very well with three GB of RAM.
"So you are saying that I can not use my memory unless I buy another copy of Vista?"
Yes, that is correct, I am very sorry but I will be glad to help you in any way that I can.
Do I have to pay the full price? Can't you give me a discount since I already paid for Vista?"
:)
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#3
Neil Jones

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I find that I have a lot of customers who call in asking why Vista won't show 4GB of RAM. I always explain it, but it takes a while (my fault, I'm sure).

If you could explain the limitations of addressing 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit architecture in 3 sentences or less, how would you do it?


For the simple people, just say that Vista (32-bit) doesn't know how to talk to more than 3,200 megabytes of memory. That's all they need to know. If they want to know a little more, then just say that since Windows 95 had a 4Gb memory limit (which is actually true even though machines of the day were lucky to have more than 128Mb in them), there's been no need to increase the upper limit since then. Also tell them that they mostly don't need such an obscene amount of memory anyway.

Just don't tell them more than they need to know. You'll overwhelm them otherwise. Most people will be happy with a "it can't talk to 4Gb but 64-bit Vista can" type-sentence. I refuse to draw pictures of computer architecture to any customer mainly because they always turn round and say they know nothing about computers but want one anyway, and even if I drew one they wouldn't understand it anyway.
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#4
Caffeine_Powered

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I find that I have a lot of customers who call in asking why Vista won't show 4GB of RAM. I always explain it, but it takes a while (my fault, I'm sure).

If you could explain the limitations of addressing 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit architecture in 3 sentences or less, how would you do it?


For the simple people, just say that Vista (32-bit) doesn't know how to talk to more than 3,200 megabytes of memory. That's all they need to know. If they want to know a little more, then just say that since Windows 95 had a 4Gb memory limit (which is actually true even though machines of the day were lucky to have more than 128Mb in them), there's been no need to increase the upper limit since then. Also tell them that they mostly don't need such an obscene amount of memory anyway.

Just don't tell them more than they need to know. You'll overwhelm them otherwise. Most people will be happy with a "it can't talk to 4Gb but 64-bit Vista can" type-sentence. I refuse to draw pictures of computer architecture to any customer mainly because they always turn round and say they know nothing about computers but want one anyway, and even if I drew one they wouldn't understand it anyway.


Hm really Windows 95 had a 4GB limit, learn something new everyday. And is it really 3,200 MB's (3.2 GB) I thought it was 3.5 gb though I could be mistaken.

To the topic creator-
just tell them that Window's Vista 32 bit only recognizes alittle more then 3 gigs of RAM and if they ask why you could just say that simply put a 32 bit OS really doesn't need more then 3 gigs, and if someone were to need more then a 64 bit OS would be better. I used to know the technical reason but that information has since been lost to my mind :)
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#5
stettybet0

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If you want to actually explain it to them (with real info :)):

Most CPUs are designed so that the contents of a single integer register can store the address (location) of any datum in the computer's virtual memory. Therefore, the total number of addresses in the virtual memory – the total amount of data the computer can keep in its working area – is determined by the width of these registers. Beginning in the 1960s with the IBM System/360, then (amongst many others) the DEC VAX minicomputer in the 1970s, and then with the Intel 80386 in the mid-1980s, a de facto consensus developed that 32 bits was a convenient register size. A 32-bit register meant that 232 addresses, or 4 GBs of RAM, could be referenced.


Subtract the address space needed for peripherals, BIOS utilities, and PCI and PCI-Express bus support and you get a ~2.5GB-3.5GB ceiling in most cases. It can be more or less, depending on the configuration. With my computer, 32-bit Vista recognized around 2.75GB when 4GB were installed. I've since moved on to 64-bit, of course. :)
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#6
Neil Jones

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Some hardware caps at 3.2Gb, some at 3.5Gb. Depends on the board realistically but the point is, it'll never see 4Gb under 32-bit Windows.

Personally I wouldn't throw a load of information at people who ask about this sort of stuff - a simple "Windows doesn't understand how to do it" usually suffices, followed by the remedy (new card, 64-bit Windows, doing the Hokey-Cokey with it, etc) and the price.
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#7
security_goat

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A quick question on this topic.

What is the Memory limit for XP pro?

I am currently building a computer for my wife who runs a lot of software like photoshop and illustrator at the same time. Currently I am goign to put 4GB into the machine, does XP 32bit have the same limitations as Vista 32 bit?

Thanks,

Security Goat
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#8
stettybet0

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Security Goat, what I stated in my last post applies to any 32-bit OS.
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#9
Neil Jones

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Different flavours of Vista 64-bit have different limitations.

Windows Vista Ultimate 128 GB
Windows Vista Enterprise 128 GB
Windows Vista Business 128 GB
Windows Vista Home Premium 16 GB
Windows Vista Home Basic 8 GB
Windows Vista Starter Not applicable

64-bit XP also see up to 128Gb of memory.

Of course, the question to ask yourself is do you really need that much memory?

Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition 32-bit is capable of seeing more than 4Gb of memory though, again up to 128Gb of memory subject to Physical Address being enabled. Under 64-bit Server 2003 it'll see up to 2 terabytes of memory.

Edited by Neil Jones, 27 March 2008 - 05:15 PM.

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#10
Rocknrollcows

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128gb's of RAM???? Christ thats alot.

Then again, technology is advancing so fast, I would not be surprised if we will need that much in 5-10 years XD

~~

2 teras? holy....

Edited by Rocknrollcows, 28 March 2008 - 08:26 PM.

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