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[FAQ]: 4 GBs of Memory and 32 bit Windows

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Special thanks to SkoalFineCut for giving me this idea.
I'm aware, this is posted twice in both AMD and Intel Memory - it isn't processor specific.

Now you may have just bought your 4 Gigs of memory and thrown them all into your machine and be hunky dory...but there's a slight problem. If your using a 32 bit version of Windows (stock XP and 32 bit Vista.) Then you arn't taking full advantage of your RAM.

Lets look at why.

32 Bit Windows addresses it's memory in a way that caps off the maximum amount of RAM you can use in direct relation to the architecture that the operating system was built around. 32 Bit Windows XP and Vista have a maximum memory cap of 4GB by default (See table below.) The first thing it does when you have 4GB's of system ram, is allocate space to address your video card. It takes 512 Megs of memory and tosses it out the Window automatically. Now if your video card has 512 Megs of RAM or under, your hunky dory, if you don't, guess what? We're going to take more system ram away to make room for that 1 gig card you bought. But it's not done yet, you also have a sound card and network card, and that tv tuner which has onboard memory that needs to be addressed as well. So now your once glorious 4GB of ram is now down to anywhere between 2.8 and 3.5. Sucky huh?

From Wikipedia
Quote:
Windows 2000 Advanced Server 8 GB
Windows 2000 Datacenter Server 32 GB
Windows XP [11] 4 GB
Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition 32 GB
Windows Server 2003 R2 (or SP1) Enterprise Edition 64 GB
Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition [12] 64 GB
Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition 4 GB
Windows Vista 4 GB
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter Edition 64 GB
Windows Server 2008 other editions 4 GB
Notice how the server editions of windows Allow for a much greater amount of RAM. Now you may be wondering, what can I do to maintain my 32 bit operating system but do away with these restrictions. A fix has been implemented by windows to resolve this known as PAE (Physical Address Extension.)

From the MSDN Network
Quote:
The Physical Address Extension (PAE) allows 32-bit Windows systems to use more than 4 GB of physical memory. PAE also enables several advanced system and processor features so it can also be used on computers that have less than 4 GB of memory. Features enabled by PAE include hardware-enabled Data Execution Prevention (DEP), non-uniform memory access (NUMA), and the ability to add memory to a system while it is running (hot-add memory).

To enable PAE, use the BCDEdit /set command to set the pae boot entry option.

Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP/2000: To enable PAE, use the /PAE switch in the Boot.ini file. To disable PAE, use the /NOPAE switch.
From wikipedia - No PAE


With Pae

I can only assume that this works with vista as well.

Be careful however
Quote:
PAE-mode-induced driver compatibility issues
Driver compatibility issues that are related to Data Execution Prevention (DEP) are typically physical address extension (PAE) mode-induced compatibility issues.

Note PAE is required only on computers that have processors that support hardware-enforced DEP.

DEP may cause compatibility issues with any driver that performs code generation or that uses other techniques to generate executable code in real time. Many drivers that experienced these issues have been fixed. Because DEP is always on for drivers that are on 64-bit versions of Windows, these drivers typically experienced compatibility issues. However, there is no guarantee that all drivers have been updated to fix PAE-mode-induced compatibility issues. However, there are few drivers that use these techniques. DEP alone does not typically cause driver compatibility issues.

The primary driver compatibility issues that you may experience occur when you run PAE mode on 32-bit computers. PAE mode enables processors to use more than 4 GB of memory. The primary difference between PAE memory paging schemes and non-PAE memory paging schemes is the additional level of paging that is required in PAE mode. PAE mode requires three levels of paging instead of two levels of paging.

Some drivers might not load if PAE mode is enabled because the device might be unable to perform 64-bit addressing. Or, the drivers might be written with the assumption that PAE mode requires more than 4 GB of memory. Such drivers are written with the expectation that the drivers will always receive 64-bit addresses in PAE mode and that the driver or the device cannot interpret the address.

Other drivers might load in PAE mode but cause system instability by directly modifying system page table entries (PTE). These drivers expect 32-bit page table entries but receive 64-bit PTEs in PAE mode instead.

The most common PAE compatibility issue for drivers involves direct memory access (DMA) transfers and map register allocation. Many devices that support DMA, typically 32-bit adapters, cannot perform 64-bit physical addressing. When these devices run in 32-bit mode, the devices can address all physical address space. In PAE mode, data can be present at a physical address that is larger than 4 GB. To enable devices that have these constraints to function in this scenario, Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and later versions of Windows provide double-buffering for the DMA transaction. Windows 2000 Server and later versions of Windows do this by providing a 32-bit address that is indicated by a map register. The device can perform the DMA transaction to the 32-bit address. The kernel copies the memory to the 64-bit address that is provided to the driver. When the computer runs with PAE mode disabled, drivers for 32-bit devices do not require that system memory be allocated to their map registers. This means that double-buffering is not required because all devices and all drivers are contained within the 32-bit address space. Tests of drivers for 32-bit devices on 64-bit processor–based computers have demonstrated that DMA-capable drivers that are client tested typically expect unlimited map registers.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.
Hopefully you'll find this usefull

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_address
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physica...ess_Extensions
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366796.aspx
http://blogs.msdn.com/hiltonl/archiv...m-problem.aspx
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929605
Edited by Black Magix - 7/25/08 at 1:56pm
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post #2 of 31
So this means you can see all 4GB in XP 32-bit and accutually use it?
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post #3 of 31
Sure, but the chances of that are low, unless you have NO graphics, even integrated take system memory (duh) but if you wanna go 4GB, get 64-bit vista, it's compatible with most 32 bit programs too.

Everything you have that has memory has the priority over system memory once it goes past 4 GB in 32 bit OS's.
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post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZealotKi11er View Post
So this means you can see all 4GB in XP 32-bit and accutually use it?
If you use the PAE extension, yes!
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post #5 of 31
so, I use windows 32 and I could use this to actually see and use 8 gigs of RAM?
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post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The x86 processor hardware is augmented with additional address lines used to select the additional memory, so physical address size is increased from 32 bits to 36 bits. This increases maximum physical memory size from 4 GB to 64 GB. The 32-bit size of virtual address is not changed, so regular application software continues to use instructions with 32-bit addresses and (in a flat memory model) is limited to 4 gigabytes (GB). The operating system uses page tables to map this 4 GB address space onto the 64 GB of total memory, and the map is usually different for each process. In this way the extra memory is useful even though no single regular application can access it all simultaneously.
Maybe that helps, from one of my sources above. So in other words, one program at a time may use it is how I'm reading that
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post #7 of 31
technically on 32 bi 4gb could and always has been used, just not by a single program.

Muliple programs will over time actually use all 4 gb
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post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StormX2 View Post
technically on 32 bi 4gb could and always has been used, just not by a single program.

Muliple programs will over time actually use all 4 gb
Yes, but no. In all your memory will get used...your not going to have some chips doing nothing. But at most you could only use as I described above. 4GB isn't possible without adding the PAE extension, see MSDN blog above.
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post #9 of 31
PAE Has not worked in XP since SP2.

PAE is bad since all drivers must be aware and write to the correct memory space. Otherwise, your memory will be corrupted. In addition, your system will take a performance hit running PAE.


Please read: http://www.dansdata.com/askdan00015.htm




Please close this FAQ cause it is not correct and misses very important points on the subject.
Edited by DuckieHo - 7/25/08 at 1:30pm
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post #10 of 31
Duckie wih the slap o the face

ooooo
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