lethargic_man: (serious)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
I attended a so-called "Green Troublemakers" meeting of NLS and NNLS members little while ago, as a result of which I ended up on a rota of providing Green Tips of the Week to both shuls' newsletters.

I thought I'd write mine on how it's not necessary to buy a new computer every few years: my own desktop, epicyclic, is about a dozen year old, but rejuvenated in 2004 when I got it with a new CPU and motherboard, and, since then, a new PSU, and DVD writer to replace the CD-ROM writer. Other ways I could soup it up would include adding more RAM and updating the graphics and sound cards... but I'm not sure one can continue this process indefinitely. Might there be issues, such as bus speed, which would limit the improvements one could get by upgrading the CPU and adding more RAM?

I've had a bit of a google, but couldn't readily find answers to this. Anyone here know?

Date: 2010-04-27 07:54 pm (UTC)
ext_8103: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ewx.livejournal.com

A problem that was common in the 1990s was that the system couldn’t cache more than a certain amount of RAM: you could have more than 64MB or 128MB, but everything beyond that would run like a drain; basically it would only be worthwhile if you could get the OS to treat the extra as a ramdisk and swap to it. I don’t know if this sort of thing still happens much.

The physical connectors change from time to time; anyone who still has a working socket 7 motherboard is not going to be installing the latest CPU or RAM in it, for instance. We’re in the middle of a transition from PCI+AGP to PCIe, although you can still easily buy PCI motherboards and devices so I think we’re still a long way from the total obsolescence of PCI. I don’t think the interface between case/PSU and motherboard has changed much since ATX, BICBW, and there are alternative form factors out there.

Some software can’t take advantage of upgrades. Windows XP only sees 2GB on my Mac even though it has 6GB installed (OS X sees the lot).

I think laptops are pretty good bet for green computing; they have strong commercial pressure on them to minimize power consumption, as battery lifetime is a major selling point. Unfortunately (along with things like iMacs) they are about the least readily upgradable type of computer - RAM and disk is probably about the best you’ll be able to do. Does the lifetime energy saving make up for the manufacturing cost? Since most users don’t upgrade in the way you’re talking about anyway, I guess it probably does, but the answer might be different if upgrading was more widespread.

Date: 2010-04-27 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grumpyolddog.livejournal.com
Windows XP only sees 2GB on my Mac even though it has 6GB installed (OS X sees the lot).

This is a fun issue. As a 32-bit OS, WinXP 32 can address up to 3GB of RAM. However, if more than 3GB or RAM is fitted, the "usable" amount - ie, that reported by Windows - is displayed as (3GB - nGB) where n is defined as the amount of RAM utilized by the GPU.

Hilariously, if your GPU has 1GB of VRAM fitted, WinXP 32 will report that it has 2GB available due to the necessity to "shadow RAM" under the x86.

WinXP 64 and every other 64-bit OS should not suffer from this limitation and should easily address up to 16GB of RAM depending on BIOS.

In response to the original question, CHECK YOUR BIOS. Check it online. That'll tell you the limitations and also whether there are any flashes available to reduce those limitations.

Date: 2010-04-28 06:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-04-28 08:04 pm (UTC)
ext_8103: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ewx.livejournal.com

I knew that video RAM could impinge but hadn’t put two and two together regarding total addressable memory. This particular machine’s video card only has 256B though.

Other people report 2GB limits on similar hardware and it’s said to be a limitation of Apple’s BIOS emulation.

Date: 2010-04-28 06:42 pm (UTC)

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