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100 mb ram usage slowing down computer?

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February 15, 2010 11:37:50 AM

I have 1 GB of RAM on my computer. When I load a lot of websites on Firefox at once, the memory usage for Firefox in the task manager goes up to around 100-150 MB, and my computer can slow to a crawl. Why does it get this slow when I'm only using 150 MB of my 1024 MB? Shouldn't it stay rather fast until Firefox starts using about 500 MB?

I've already adjusted Firefox's settings to not use this much memory, but I'm still curious why Firefox gets so slow when it's not even using 1/5 of my memory. Is it just the way XP or Windows in general handles memory that causes this?

a c 79 } Memory
February 15, 2010 12:11:26 PM

In Task Manager, what is the peak memory? Your system probably is slow because of all the background taks that are running at once (animated gifs, auto-refresh of some pages, etc.); not because it uses 150MB of memory What CPU do you have?
February 15, 2010 12:14:43 PM

2.53 GHz celeron. Where in task manager do I find peak memory?
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a c 79 } Memory
February 15, 2010 12:19:10 PM

Performance tab, Commit Charge (K). While on that tab, why not take a screen shot and post it here or provide more info, e.g., CPU Usage and Physical Memory (K)?
February 15, 2010 3:57:47 PM

I'm starting to see how all the programs add up. Firefox is at about 190 MB, but the total is over 500 MB.

Commit Charge (K)
Total 543600
Limit 2577456 (I guess this is ram + pagefile)
Peak 636768

Physical Memory (K)
Total 1046512
Available 492488
System Cache 595264

Kernel Memory (K)
Total 57344
Paged 41164
Nonpaged 16144

Note: don't be surprised if these numbers don't add up exactly, they changed slightly as I was typing them up.

By the way, why does your computer start to get slow when you're only using about 1/2 your ram? Shouldn't it only get slow after you use all 1 GB? Or does it start writing to the pagefile (slower) after you reach about 500 MB?
a c 79 } Memory
February 15, 2010 5:07:39 PM

How busy is the CPU? At some point it can also get slow because it's waiting for data from several sites.
February 16, 2010 6:35:17 PM

GhislainG said:
How busy is the CPU? At some point it can also get slow because it's waiting for data from several sites.


This is for a slightly different topic, but whenever I'm playing a file in Audacity and I start to load a webpage, open iTunes, or open another computer program at the same time, the playback skips. The ram usage stays about the same, but the cpu usage takes a leap for a second. I'm guessing it was kind of a similar thing for firefox--the cpu usage was causing it, not the ram usage.

So, is there a way I can start to load a webpage, launch a program, etc. without interrupting Audacity's playback? If it's caused by the cpu having to wait for data from the RAM, would getting faster RAM get rid of the problem? (I know you can't always get faster RAM, depending on your motherboard, etc., but just for the sake of explanation, would it help?)
a c 79 } Memory
February 16, 2010 6:55:49 PM

Your issue might be that you're trying to multitask with a CPU that's single threaded or you are using a very slow hard disk. What CPU, motherboard and hard disk do you have?
February 16, 2010 7:48:35 PM

GhislainG said:
Your issue might be that you're trying to multitask with a CPU that's single threaded or you are using a very slow hard disk. What CPU, motherboard and hard disk do you have?


Hard disk: Maxtor 6L160P0, 160 GB

CPU: Intel Celeron 325, Prescott, 90 nm, Socket 478 mPGA, Family F, model 4, Stepping 1, Revision E0, Instructions MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3

Core Speed 2527.1 mhz
multiplier 19.0x
bus speed 133.0 mhz
rated fsb 532.0 mhz
l1 data cache 16 kbytes
l1 trace 12 Kuops
Level 2 cache 256 KB

Motherboard:

Dell Computer Corp., 0CF458
Chipset: Intel i865P/PE/G/i848P Rev A2
Southbridge: Intel 92801EB (ICH5)
LPCIO: SMSC LPC47M182

Thanks for your help, by the way.
a c 79 } Memory
February 16, 2010 8:04:05 PM

You are using a single-threaded CPU. Your hard disk is decent for a 7 year old unit. Upgrading the CPU (assuming that it can be done on that system) to a P4 with HT would definitely help. Personally I'd simply build or buy a new much faster PC.
February 16, 2010 8:12:54 PM

GhislainG said:
You are using a single-threaded CPU. Your hard disk is decent for a 7 year old unit. Upgrading the CPU (assuming that it can be done on that system) to a P4 with HT would definitely help. Personally I'd simply build or buy a new much faster PC.


That's kind of what I thought. By the way, it's actually a 4 year old pc, not 7 year old (not a good sign, I know... ). I think the CPU's used different sockets, though (isn't the pentium 4 physically smaller in size than the Celeron?).

Also, just a few more questions:

1. My dad has a Dell Dimension 4700 with a Pentium processor. Does that support multithreading? In other words, is it also the line of processors (Celeron vs pentium vs xeon) and not just the age that determines whether a processor can support multithreading?

2. If I just bought the cheapest new computer available (such as one of these), would it still support multithreading and thus still be much faster, even with the lower-end AMD Sempron cpu? Even if it only had 1 GB of ram, would I still be able to launch programs without the short leap in CPU usage if the cpu were multithreaded?

Thanks again for your help.
a c 79 } Memory
February 16, 2010 9:05:32 PM

I presumed that the system was as old as the CPU which was released in 2003.

All processors sort of support multithreading (an OS function). If the CPU is busy with one thread, other threads will have to wait a bit. If you have a CPU with HT or more than one core (much better than HT), then the CPU can process more threads at any given time.

1. You father's system uses a faster Intel Pentium 4 530 with HT. It isn't as fast as a newer dual core, but it's significantly better than yours.

2. I wouldn't buy the cheapest one because it uses a single core CPU. The Inspiron 580 (G6950 CPU and 4GB RAM) is the lowest that I would go. It will be at least twice as fast as your father's PC. No matter what you buy, you'll always run into some bottleneck, but opening a web page will not cause performance issues with local applications (providing you're not trying to run too many demanding apps at the same time).
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