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Memory usage in Win7?


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#1 kvon

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 12:10 AM

Just discovered that one of my memory-hog programs doesn't release the memory when it's minimized in W7, but it does in XP. Can't really find anything on this - is this the new default behavior for W7? And if so, is there a way to force the programs to release their memory when minimized? If not I'll have to buy more RAM... (have 2G). I know it's cheap, but wasn't expecting to need it :huh:

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#2 Platypus

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 12:47 AM

Don't worry. Windows 7 utilises memory more effectively than XP did, and reports its usage differently. In comparison, Windows 7 will usually appear to have a low "free" memory indication.

This is because memory that is allocated by Windows 7 as part of the SuperFetch system, which XP did not have, is reported as "cached". This portion of memory has been reserved by Windows according to observed usage of your commonly used programs. SuperFetch's pre-allocated memory is available and will be released immediately if required to answer another program's memory requirement while the program SuperFetch is holding it for is not using it.

In other words, it's just a different way of reporting memory usage.

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#3 Layback Bear

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:47 AM

Platypus has hit the nail on the head. Windows 7 not only handles memory different but also better. If you are using Windows 7/64 I would recommend more ram 4 gigs or more, it loves it.

#4 Broni

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 10:31 PM

Very nice explanation can be found here: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/09/w...-my-memory.html
It's about Vista, but the very same goes for Win 7.

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#5 kvon

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 05:54 AM

Thanks for the info everyone, the 'coding horror' column spells it out pretty well. I understand what's going on with how Win 7 manages its available physical memory -- and what I'm asking about is what a single application should do when it's minimized and whether it will release its memory. I think (?) I can read between the lines, and expect that when that memory is needed by another application it will be released, but not until then... is that right?

I'll experiment with it soon as I get a chance, just have to run my 2 prime memory hog programs (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS4), and see how the system behaves when they're both grabbing memory...

#6 Platypus

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 07:20 AM

It's not the applications themselves that control the memory, that's done behind the scenes by the Memory Manager.

The Memory Manager serves physical memory to applications in an address space (virtual memory). Each running application has a 2GB address space, so it believes it has 2GB of memory available to it. The Memory Manager is responsible for how the virtual address space seen by each application is provided with memory, sourced from RAM and the paging file on the hard drive.

Most applications don't need anywhere near this much memory, and only request allocations as they need them. Memory-hog applications, such as Photoshop, immediately allocate as much memory as possible when they start (typically around 1.6GB in Photoshop, according to the settings made). It's evident when you think it through that if two large programs each think they have 2GB of memory to play with, and the computer has, for example, only 2GB of RAM fitted, that at least some of the same RAM has to be being used by each program!

So it's the Memory Manager that decides what is being mapped into a program's address space at any instant and what is being paged out to the paging file on the hard drive, ready to be restored later when it's what the other program will expect to be in its address space.

This is one advantage of a 64 bit OS with at least 6GB of RAM available, but still running 32 bit software. The 64 bit OS can provide 2GB of exclusive physical RAM to two large 32 bit applications without paging. Or if an application is Large Address Aware, such as Photoshop, up to 4GB address space can be made available to it. Using 32 bit Windows with the /3GB startup switch, an app like Photoshop can be supplied a 3GB address space, but at the cost of severely cramping Windows' own operation.

Edited by Platypus, 09 July 2010 - 07:23 AM.

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#7 Broni

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 07:23 PM

what I'm asking about is what a single application should do when it's minimized and whether it will release its memory.

It's not only about minimizing, but also about closing given program altogether.
Many programs have so called "memory leak", which means, that even after closing the program, it won't give back all RAM, it initially took.
Just a real life and poor programming. There is not much we can do about it.
Restarting computer, at least once a day (if you keep it on all the time) is the only solution.

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