The power of SCIENCE compels you!

Here, let me revisit this point. The test machine is a 1Ghz Pentium III Dell Inspiron 8000, with a 60Gb 7200rpm hard drive as the system drive and a 64Mb Nvidia Geforce4 440 Go running Arch Linux. (All calculations done via Timex method.)

512Mb PC133:
Boot time from Grub to desktop: 27 seconds
Kazehakase start time: 2.54 seconds
Time to compile VICE 1.22 (make only, not configure): ~7 minutes 15 seconds
glxgears framerates: ~2175 fps

256Mb PC133:
Boot time from Grub to desktop: 0:27
Kazehakase start time: 0:2.47
Time to compile VICE 1.22: ~7:08
glxgears framerates: ~2180 fps

Start times are identical. System loads are identical. Compile times are identical. Responsiveness, shutdowns and disk access are identical. Network access is identical. Even the color of the screen is identical.

Therefore, more memory will not always magically speed up your computer. QED.

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15 Responses to “The power of SCIENCE compels you!”


  1. 1 Danny 2007/09/03 at 1:42 PM

    Hey K,
    This is an interesting experiment. From the initial look, I’d say the speed of the memory was the most common factor. That, and the items tested might not have needed to use all the memory. Then again, I’m certainly no expert on memory.

    My only argument with this specific experiment is the items tested, other than bootup. You’re much better at this stuff than me, at least for now, so I wonder if there’s a way you could do tests on similar hardware/memory configuration with:
    -Time for Internet Browser to get to default page.
    -How long to load various pages, especially news sites.
    -How long to load a YouTube page.
    -How long to startup OOoWriter (I know this can be adjusted, but the average person wouldn’t know how to do that)
    -How long to do various things in GnuCash.
    -How long to do various things in RhythmBox

    What I’m considering here is, “What would the average person do, and does the amount of memory significantly affect those things?”

    My guess is; There’s probably not a significant difference between 256 MB, and 512 MB, but I’d be willing to bet there would be a difference with 1028 MB of memory.

    Then again, there probably is an minimum amout, where below that things do get bogged down, but any more than the needed amount doesn’t really help. Information like this would really help me in decision about how much memory to put in my FreekBox’s. I’ve been using hardinfo to give me some ideas, but it provides for more confusion that help.

    I’d love to hear more on this practical experiment.

  2. 2 K.Mandla 2007/09/03 at 4:23 PM

    I don’t know if there’s a magic number for how much memory a system “needs.” I think a lot of it depends on what you do with the system.

    I rarely, and I mean rarely, show a memory profile over 128Mb, and that’s after hours of surfing, working, typing, writing, watching movies and so forth.

    So I kind of rebel against the knee-jerk reaction that tells everyone to put 2Gb into their system. I think that’s a byproduct of years under Windows, with incessant bloat and poor program design pushing everyone to buy more memory.

    The purpose of the experiment was just to show that, for all common purposes, more memory doesn’t always make a machine “run faster.” Even compiling, which is a processor-hungry task, doesn’t go any faster with more memory.

    If it was me and I had the choice of how much memory to put in a machine, I’d probably go with 256Mb. I really believe that’s enough for a lightweight desktop on an older machine with swap space for emergency. More than that is really overkill, in my book.

    I don’t know if that helps at all, but for what I know about your project, I wouldn’t waste the second 256Mb on the same machine if I could give away another whole computer with that 256Mb in it. :roll:

  3. 3 Danny 2007/09/05 at 1:23 PM

    I think I’ll stick with the 256MB installations, especially with Xubuntu. Today, I got in a Sony Vaio, PII, 64MB, 6GB hd. Ran puppy a little sluggish, but DSL just fine. I prefer puppy because of the ability to do the ‘pupfile’ thing. After I finish this post, I’m going to look through your posts for the lean install instructions.

  4. 4 K.Mandla 2007/09/05 at 2:32 PM

    Sounds good. Are you going to put it on your blog? I’d be interested to hear about it.

    Don’t forget that DSL can be installed with the Debian framework, which makes it behave something like Ubuntu. I haven’t done that in a long time, but it might be more familiar than DSL’s in-house package management (which I always found somewhat clumsy).

  5. 5 Timmy 2008/11/19 at 2:41 AM

    Two reasons I like having 512MB of RAM:
    1) Virtual machines.
    2) Live environments (I think the Ubuntu LiveCD needs 300-something to run, for example…)

  6. 6 demex 2009/01/11 at 2:55 PM

    Of course they are identical. Those tests test the processor more than the RAM. RAM is good for things that use large amounts of data. Open up 10 tabs in Firefox and then try opening Office and see which is faster. Do multitasking on it and then test which is better. If all someone is doing is word processing or checking email then that is fine. If they are going to be watching youtube videos, listening to iTunes, and writing a paper like most kids these days then go for 1 gig of RAM at least.

  7. 7 K.Mandla 2009/01/11 at 7:58 PM

    Skip back a little bit through the links. You’ve reinforced my original point: Unless your workload calls for it, more memory does not magically make your computer faster.

  8. 8 Dr. Don 2010/10/16 at 6:14 PM

    The purpose of extra memory is not necessarily always to make your system run faster.

    It is to keep it from running slower.

    A computer runs slower when it runs out of memory & starts to use the harddisk for virtual ram. This can easily slow the computer down 1,000 + times slower. Ram is usually measured Milliseconds while harddisk seek heads barely manage thousandths of a second.

    If you use something like IE6 to be “light weight” then you are begging to be infected by some virus. Active-X drive by installs anyone? Hello malware!

    No antivirus? Sure you are fast!

    1 GB ram should be minimum recommendation for ANY os. While there are many OS that can run fine on less, when you have to get things done, work on movies, watch movies, encode movies, burn dvd’s, process rar SFX files, batch unzip compressed container files, etc…

    You have no idea how fast ram can get “eat up”.
    Maybe you live in the dark ages & just use your computers for simple text processing, but not everyone else does.

    • 9 mulenmar 2010/10/17 at 9:11 AM

      You should read the rest of the blog before saying things like, “You have no idea how fast ram can get ‘eat up’.”

      K.Mandla listens to music, plays movies, and all that on “older” hardware. Quite happily, too. And has a more modern machine for the very few things that need more CPU power.

      As for getting things done, I’m working on a spreadsheet in OpenOffice, viewing a couple websites in Chromium (not the most memory-friendly browser when you have a lot of tabs open), a tabbed file manager, and STILL only have a memory usage of 120MB. I can play 720p movies easily, too. And this is a laptop from 2001.

      RAM cannot get “eaten up” when what little there is using it isn’t WASTING it.


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