1.5. HOW MUCH MEMORY DO YOU NEED?

Ultimate Memory Guide. 1.5. HOW MUCH MEMORY DO YOU NEED?

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1.5. HOW MUCH MEMORY DO YOU NEED?

Perhaps you already know what it’s like to work on a computer that doesn’t have quite enough memory. You can hear the hard drive operating more frequently and the “hour glass” or “wrist watch” cursor symbol appears on the screen for longer periods of time. Things can run more slowly at times, memory errors can occur more frequently, and sometimes you can’t launch an application or a file without first closing or quitting another.

So, how do you determine if you have enough memory, or if you would benefit from more? And if you do need more, how much more? The fact is, the right amount of memory depends on the type of system you have, the type of work you’re doing, and the software applications you’re using. Because the right amount of memory is likely to be different for a desktop computer than for a server, we’ve divided this section into two parts - one for each type of system.

MEMORY REQUIREMENTS FOR A DESKTOP COMPUTER

If you’re using a desktop computer, memory requirements depend on the computer’s operating system and the application software you’re using. Today’s word processing and spreadsheet applications require as little as 32MB of memory to run. However, software and operating system developers continue to extend the capabilities of their products, which usually means greater memory requirements. Today, developers typically assume a minimum memory configuration of 64MB. Systems used for graphic arts, publishing, and multimedia call for at least 128MB of memory and it’s common for such systems to require 256MB or more for best performance.

The chart on the next page provides basic guidelines to help you decide how much memory is optimal for your desktop computer. The chart is divided by operating system and by different kinds of work. Find the operating system you’re using on your computer, then look for the descriptions of work that most closely match the kind of work you do.

DESKTOP MEMORY MAP

WINDOWS® 2000 PROFESSIONAL
Windows 2000 Professional runs software applications faster. Notebook- ready and designed with the future in mind, Windows 2000 Professional allows users to take advantage of a full- range of features today. Windows 2000 Professional is future- ready and promises to run today’s and tomorrow’s applications better.
Baseline: 64MB - 128MB
Optimal: 128MB - 512MB
Administrative & ServiceLight- Word processing, email, data- entry64MB - 96MB
Medium- Fax /communications, database administration, spreadsheets; >2 applications open at a time64MB - 128MB
Heavy- Complex documents, accounting, business graphics, presentation software, network connectivity96MB - 256MB
Executives & AnalystsLight- Proposals, reports, spreadsheets, business graphics, databases, scheduling, presentations64MB - 96MB
Medium- Complex presentations, sales/ market analysis, project management, Internet access96MB - 128MB
Heavy- Statistical applications, large databases, research/ technical analysis, complex presentations, video conferencing128MB - 512MB
Engineers&DesignersLight- Page layout, 2 - 4 color line drawings, simple image manipulation, simple graphics96MB - 128MB
Medium- 2D CAD, rendering, multimedia presentations, simple photo- editing, Web development128MB - 512MB
Heavy- Animation, complex photo- editing, real- time video, 3D CAD, solid modeling, finite element analysis256MB - 1GB

WINDOWS® 98
Windows 98 requires 16 - 32MB to run basic applications. Tests show 45 - 65% performance improvements at 64MB and beyond.
Baseline: 32MB - 64MB
Optimal: 128MB - 256MB
StudentsLight- Word processing, basic financial management, email and other light Internet use32MB - 64MB
Medium- Home office applications, games, Internet surfing, downloading images, spreadsheets, presentations64MB - 128MB
Heavy- Multimedia use such as video, graphics, music, voice recognition, design, complex images128MB - 384MB
Home UsersLight- Word processing, basic financial management, email and other light Internet use32MB - 48MB
Medium- Home office applications, games, Internet surfing, downloading images, spreadsheets, presentations48MB - 64MB
Heavy- Multimedia use such as video, graphics, music, voice recognition, design, complex images64MB - 128MB

LINUX®
The Linux operating system is quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to Microsoft Windows. It includes true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, demand loading, proper memory management, TCP/ IP networking, and other features consistent with Unix- type systems.
Baseline: 48MB - 112MB
Optimal: 112MB - 512MB
Administrative&ServiceLight- Word processing, email, data- entry48MB - 80MB
Medium- Fax /communications, database administration, spreadsheets; >2 applications open at a time48MB - 112MB
Heavy- Complex documents, accounting, business graphics, presentation software, network connectivity80MB - 240MB
Executives&AnalystsLight- Proposals, reports, spreadsheets, business graphics, databases, scheduling, presentations48MB - 80MB
Medium- Complex presentations, sales/ market analysis, project management, Internet access80MB - 112MB
Heavy- Statistical applications, large databases, research/ technical analysis, complex presentations, video conferencing112MB - 512MB
Engineers&DesignersLight- Page layout, 2 - 4 color line drawings, simple image manipulation, simple graphics80MB - 112MB
Medium- 2D CAD, rendering, multimedia presentations, simple photo- editing, Web development112MB - 512MB
Heavy- Animation, complex photo- editing, real- time video, 3D CAD, solid modeling, finite element analysis240MB - 1GB

MACINTOSH OS
The Macintosh operating system manages memory in substantially different ways than other systems. Still, System 9.0 users will find that 48MB is a bare minimum. When using PowerMac ® applications with Internet connectivity, plan on a range between 64 and 128MB as a minimum.
Baseline: 48MB - 64MB
Optimal: 128MB - 512MB
Administrative&ServiceLight- Word processing, email, data- entry48MB - 64MB
Medium- Fax /communications, database administration, spreadsheets; >2 applications open at a time64MB - 96MB
Heavy- Complex documents, accounting, business graphics, presentation software, network connectivity96MB - 128MB
Executives&AnalystsLight- Proposals, reports, spreadsheets, business graphics, databases, scheduling, presentations64MB - 256MB
Medium- Complex presentations, sales/ market analysis, project management, Internet access128MB - 1GB
Heavy- Statistical applications, large databases, research/ technical analysis, complex presentations, video conferencing96MB - 128MB
Engineers&DesignersLight- Page layout, 2 - 4 color line drawings, simple image manipulation, simple graphics128MB - 512MB
Medium- 2D CAD, rendering, multimedia presentations, simple photo- editing, Web development256MB - 1GB
Heavy- Animation, complex photo- editing, real- time video, 3D CAD, solid modeling, finite element analysis512MB - 2GB


* Please Note: These figures reflect work done in a typical desktop environment. Higher-end workstation tasks may require up to 4GB. Naturally, a chart such as this evolves as memory needs and trends change. Over time, developers of software and operating systems will continue to add features and functionality to their products. This will continue to drive the demand for more memory. More complex character sets, like Kanji, may require more memory than the standard Roman based (English) character sets.



SERVER MEMORY REQUIREMENTS

How can you tell when a server requires more memory? Quite often, the users of the network are good indicators. If network-related activity such as email, shared appli-cations, or printing slows down, they’ll probably let their Network Administrator know. Here are a few proactive strategies that can be used to gauge whether or not a server has sufficient memory:

  • Monitor server disk activity. If disk swapping is detected, it is usually a result of inadequate memory.

  • Most servers have a utility that monitors CPU, memory, and disk utilization. Review this at peak usage times to measure the highest spikes in demand.
Once it’s determined that a server does need more memory, there are many factors to consider when deciding on how much is enough:

What functions does the server perform (application, communication, remote access, email, Web, file, multimedia, print, database)?

    Some servers hold a large amount of information in memory at once, while oth-ers process information sequentially. For example, a typical large database server does a lot of data processing; with more memory, such a server would likely run much faster because more of the records it needs for searches and queries could be held in memory - that is, “at the ready.” On the other hand, compared to a database server, a typical file server can perform efficiently with less memory because its primary job is simply to transfer information rather than to process it.
What operating system does the server use?

    Each server operating system manages memory differently. For example, anetwork operating system (NOS) such as the Novell operating system handles information much differently than an application-oriented system such as Windows NT. Windows NT’s richer interface requires more memory, while the traditional Novell functions of file and print serving require less memory.
How many users access the server at one time?

    Most servers are designed and configured to support a certain number of users at one time. Recent tests show that this number is directly proportional to the amount of memory in the server. As soon as the number of users exceeds maximum capacity, the server resorts to using hard disk space as virtual memory, and performance drops sharply. In recent studies with Windows NT, additional memory allowed an application server to increase by several times the number of users supported while maintaining the same level of performance.
What kind and how many processors are installed on the server?

    Memory and processors affect server performance differently, but they work hand in hand. Adding memory allows more information to be handled at one time, while adding processors allows the information to be processed faster. So, if you add processing power to a system, additional memory will enable the processors to perform at their full potential.
How critical is the server’s response time?

    In some servers, such as Web or e-commerce servers, response time directly affects the customer experience and hence revenue. In these cases, some IT Managers choose to install more memory than they think they would ever need in order to accommodate surprise surges in use. Because server configurations involve so many variables, it’s difficult to make precise recommendations with regard to memory. The following chart shows two server upgrade scenarios.

SERVER MEMORY MAP

WINDOWS® 2000 SERVER
Designed to help businesses of all sizes run better, Windows 2000 Server offers a manageable, reliable and internet- ready solution for today’s growing enterprises. For optimal performance, consider adding more memory to take advantage of Windows 2000 Server’s robust feature set. Windows 2000 Server is internet- ready and promises to run today’s and tomorrow’s applications better.
Baseline: 128MB
Optimal: 256MB - 1GB
Application ServerHouses one or more applications to be accessed over a wide user base256MB - 4GB
Directory ServerCentral Management of network resources128MB - 1GB
Print ServerDistributes print jobs to appropriate printers128MB - 512MB
Communication ServerManages a variety of communications such as PBX, Voicemail, Email, and VPN512MB - 2GB
Web ServerInternet and intranet solutions512MB - 2GB
Database ServerManages simple to complex databases of varying sizes256MB - 4GB

LINUX®
Linux is a reliable, cost- effective alternative to traditional UNIX servers. Depending on the distribution, the Linux server platform features a variety of utilities, applications, and services.
Baseline: 64MB - 128MB
Optimal: 256MB - 1GB
Application ServerHouses one or more applications to be accessed over a wide user base64MB - 4GB
Directory ServerCentral Management of network resources128MB - 1GB
Print ServerDistributes print jobs to appropriate printers128MB - 512MB
Communication ServerManages a variety of communications such as PBX, Voicemail, Email, and VPN512MB - 2GB
Web ServerInternet and intranet solutions512MB - 2GB
Database ServerManages simple to complex databases of varying sizes256MB - 4GB


* Please Note: These figures reflect work done in a typical server environment. Higher- end workstation tasks may require up to 4GB. Naturally, a chart such as this evolves as memory needs and trends change. Over time, developers of software and operating systems will continue to add features and functionality to their products. This will continue to drive the demand for more memory. More complex character sets, like Kanji, may require more memory than the standard Roman based (English) character sets.

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