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Windows XP Physical Memory Limitations

Last response: in Windows XP
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July 25, 2006 11:24:17 AM

I'm about to get a new computer that i plan to equip with 4GB of ram, but i've realized that will be an issue with WindowsXP Pro. As i understand it, a 32 bit system can only recognize memory addresses thru a max of 4GB, meaning everything else's address on your system from video cards to network cards will be subtracted from that 4GB total... Leaving you with slightly above 3GB (average).

Is this true? Is the system ACTUALLY USING all 4 GB of ram and just not displaying it properly? Is all 4GB actually available to software in windowsXP Pro?

Obviously switching to Windows X64 would releive that issue... but isn't X64 buggy? aren't there a lot of driver issues? What happens when i'm not using a 64Bit program? Does it run at half speed? Can only see 2GB of ram?

You get the jist of it, what's a good solution for me?
July 25, 2006 2:15:42 PM

XP Pro x64 isn't buggy... the only problem with it is that a lot of hardware vendors haven't gotten on the ball with writing x64 drivers. (I'm lookin' at you, Logitech).

The OS has been around for more than a year... you would think it would have broad support by now... but the fact is it doesn't. It actually does run better than 32-bit XP, but without drivers for all of your hardware, there's just no point in switching over at this time.

Make sure to gripe at companies that haven't got x64 drivers in place. (Logitech).
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July 26, 2006 8:50:24 PM

Anyone else, what?

:p 

To answer your other questions, no... not all 4GB will be accessible to software running under 32-bit XP. To my knowledge, XP does in fact show 3GB of physical memory installed when you have 4GB. If PAE is enabled... then it's possible you might get access to all 4GB... but again, the OS is going to reserve a chunk for hardware resources, etc.

As long as you're confident all the hardware you are buying has 64-bit drivers or at the very least will soon have 64-bit drivers, go for XP Pro x64. Otherwise, stick with 32-bit. Pro x64 has no issues running 32-bit software... nor will it run at half-speed. The program should be able to address all the memory it needs if it's a 32-bit program... and if that is the case, it will have it's own limitations anyway... the OS won't make a difference.
July 26, 2006 10:01:20 PM

Quote:
Anyone else, what?

:p 

To answer your other questions, no... not all 4GB will be accessible to software running under 32-bit XP. To my knowledge, XP does in fact show 3GB of physical memory installed when you have 4GB. If PAE is enabled... then it's possible you might get access to all 4GB... but again, the OS is going to reserve a chunk for hardware resources, etc.

As long as you're confident all the hardware you are buying has 64-bit drivers or at the very least will soon have 64-bit drivers, go for XP Pro x64. Otherwise, stick with 32-bit. Pro x64 has no issues running 32-bit software... nor will it run at half-speed. The program should be able to address all the memory it needs if it's a 32-bit program... and if that is the case, it will have it's own limitations anyway... the OS won't make a difference.


Well most of my main hardware has 64 bit support, excluding my logitech mouse combo... :(  But i'm concernted about the little things, like hooking up my cell phone to my computer, using a freeware driver... is that gonna be AXED with X64? Or little things like my harmony remote, etc... etc...
July 26, 2006 10:20:01 PM

That will all depend on the company writing the drivers. You'll have to check with whoever wrote that freeware driver to see if they have something available for x64. Logitech seems to be dragging their feet on fully implementing x64 support right now... so if you have a lot of Logitech products, you may want to stick with 32-bit XP for now... and if you want 64-bit later, upgrade to Vista when it's out.
August 5, 2006 5:19:09 AM

Quote:
s the system ACTUALLY USING all 4 GB of ram and just not displaying it properly? Is all 4GB actually available to software in windowsXP Pro?


Windows XP 64-bit is the unloved redheaded stepchild.

32-bit apps only can use sub-2.0GB of memory (process limit), hence the need for 64-bit versions (LightWave, XSI, RenderMan, Maya!)

64-bit ness is only useful for high-end 3D work (me! me! me!) as most 3D people rarely use up 1GB of RAM. Everything worked under XP64 for me but I hated dual-booting and some apps would not install(a known problem).

Also, I had driver issues with lesser-known hardware. You must run common hardware or commonly used high-end hardware (i.e Quadro / Broadcom) to be happy with XP64.
August 5, 2007 2:25:49 PM

I installed Win XP 64 bit on a machine with 4 GB RAM, from some reason it shows only 3 GB, no idea whay, Sisoft sandra detects 4 memory modules but the system doesn't, any ideas?
August 6, 2007 12:37:59 PM

Can depend on motherboard. Some older motherboards are not well designed for 64bit.

Mike.
August 6, 2007 10:23:19 PM

I have had 4gb of ram in my machine for about 6 months but have never successfully gotten more than 2.75gb to be seen by windows. All attempts in changins to system to use 4GB have resulted in crashes and BSOD.

August 19, 2007 7:56:28 AM

if you have a 32 bit OS you will normally get 3.25 memory shown to you. There is absolutly no reason any real person unless your a massive photoshop person or video editor needs 4+ gigs. Stay with 32 and its quite possible depending on drivers that it may be faster then 64. Oddds are your mobo can go up to 8 but then again no reason. :) 
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